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Test For Echo
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 5 September 2017
the great cd of my favourite band,i am satisfied, thank you,well done!
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on 17 April 2012
Sweet, Sublime Perfection, this review supposedly requires at least 20 words but lets be honest music afficionados, when it comes to Rush, more than the first three of this review are superfluous.
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on 4 May 2012
Once again Rush have confounded critique, evolved AND maintained the status quo and created yet another frustratingly brilliant yet flawed addition to their body of work. Test for Echo(T4E) is at first uninteresting, at times harks back to material circa A Farewell to Kings/ Hemispheres (an era that for me produced similar feelings of apathy towards their music) and on the surface presents itself as quite an 'average' sounding record. But, as with most of the Rush albums I have initially disliked, T4E does probably the most impressive job of slowly becoming a fantastic collection. It's never going to be a classic in my eyes and there are no outstanding tracks but every single song is well-crafted and contains melody, rhythm and hooks that are more subtle than any that have come before.

The title track is probably the best proof of this. At first it sounds a bit of a mess with tempo changes aplenty. Fast, slow, heavy, acoustic. It is difficult to pin-point and make any sense of. But this is Rush and they are all about that. Suffice it to say that it will eventually become a great song with swagger, attitude and grace. 'Driven' is the most immediate track here. It does not take long to 'get' as it were. However once you think you've nailed the melodies it just gets better and better with every listen, and instead of sounding like a single with a great chorus it turns into a thoughtful, dark anthem. 'Half the World' is rather breezy in comparison and does itself an injustice of making it sound trite at first. But, yes, it also transforms and its simple wassailing become passionate strains. 'The Colour of Right' is probably one of my picks from the album while initially it was my least favourite. It's another quiet song that has so much packed into it it is a wonder how they made it all sound so simple. 'Time and Motion' is an angular, erratic, heavy and almost alternative piece(not unlike material from Counterparts). Same rules apply - it gets better with every listen. Much better.

'Totem' is quieter but still contains the magical expertise of the band to create so much tune and melody from something that sounds like a wisp of a song. 'Dog Years' turns the amps back on. At first I found this almost laughable but it was hard to deny its musical prowess. Time once again proved to soften its edges and sharpen its bite. 'Virtuality' and 'Resist' are another of my highlights. The former is akin to a Rush single and has a very simple but irrepressible chorus. The latter is a near perfect ballad with a central melody that both soothes and moves, together with the usual excellent harmonies. 'Limbo' is possibly the only Rush instrumental I have ever liked. I don't know why I have never been that fond of them but I suppose it can relate to how well they can create a song with lyrical content. But 'Limbo' is great. And 'Carve Away the Stone' finishes how it started and continued - frustratingly. An ok song suddenly turns into a belter after 4 or 5 listens. Cracking chorus.

So yet another statement of intent and triumph of creativity over marketability. I'm almost sad that I only have 2 more Rush albums to enjoy (3 including the yet to be released Clockwork Angels at time of writing 05/2012). But as an album that it seems many fans list as one of their least favourite, T4E does itself justice eventually with nothing more than being full of just great music. It is there, and just like Sisyphus' stone, you'll need to chip away at it, put the effort in and it will be freed. It will be more than worth it.

After all that I think I'm coming down with a case of the vapors. Which can mean only one thing....
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VINE VOICEon 6 March 2005
Rush could be the most consistant rock album makers ever. There`s nothing in their seventeen studio album career that is bad, even if some of their really early stuff has dated. "Test for echo", originally released in 1996, is another solid offering. The CD captures the band still in it`s transitional stage that went on throughout the Nineties, where the band were constantly cutting back on the keyboards which had dominated their Eighties albums, to get back to a sound closer to their guitar-bass-drums arrangements of the early seventies.
The songs are all enjoyable even if there isn`t really anything which stands out as a classic. "Virtuality" and "Driven" both have a bone crunchingly heavy riff which goes into an acoustic led chorus, with "Driven" also having one of those outrageous instrumental breaks that only Rush can do, Geddy Lee`s multi-tracked bass line still beggars belief. "Half the world" is a pleasant sounding song with some great observations from lyricist and percussionist extrodinaire Neil Peart, the melancholy "Resist" also contains some excellent wordplay. "Time and motion" and the instrumental "Limbo" are the albums darkest moments with some unsettling musical passages. Meanwhile the keyboards haven`t completely disappeared, although they do not appear in every song like before, their place being taken by Alex Lifeson`s textural acoustic and electric guitar work. All in all it`s a well crafted rock album, albeit with no real knockout punch like a "Tom Sawyer" or "Closer to the heart" to really lift it into the best works of Rush.
The really great thing about this, and all Rush albums, is that it shows the band moving forward from the album before. Now that really is the true meaning of progressive rock, and Rush remain one of the genres finest exponents.
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on 29 May 2007
I must say I didn't expect that much from TFE, partly because of the reviews, and partly because I've had Rush on 'ignore' since 1988, due to a steady decline in quality beginning with Grace Under Pressure (just my opinion). But having heard (and loved) Snakes and Arrows, I thought I really should check out some of their other 'late' output to hear what I've been missing.

I've not given this a whole lot of listens, (as I've also been trying out Roll The Bones and Presto, and some Billy Cobham for when I get all Rush-ed out), but the first five tracks have been on five or six times, and they are excellent, compelling, complex, hard-edged, melodic, intelligent modern heavy/rock/prog/metal. In short, they are unmistakably 'GOOD' Rush. Nobody else does it like this. So why the moaning? Vertigo is scary, especially the spiralling, up-and-up chord progression, Driven is good to it's name, hard and relentless, and Time and Motion is the precursor to 'Spindrift', off Snakes and Arrows: nicely dark and dischordant.

If you liked 'Snakes', get this: it's closer to their most recent work than Vapor Trails.
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on 22 February 2008
This album unjustly receives a fair amount of cop, which, I am glad to say, is undeserved and wholly unjustified. Many people highlight the lack of a standout track, something from which I believe Counterparts and Roll The Bones suffered, and they are still great albums. There is nothing wrong with there being no standout track if they are all relatively strong. A standout track only implies that there is an inconsistency within the album, that some tracks are far better than others.

And now the album itself: It has a well-produced clean sound that, unlike Presto (probably my favourite album), is not bare and minimalist. It is produced by Peter Collins again, who also worked on Power Windows, Hold Your Fire and Counterparts, but this time he has dispensed with the production used on PW and HYF, ensuring the album does not quite sound so much like the Eighties as those two did.

The songs are varied and concern different themes and are also musically different. My favourite track would have to be Dog Years, assuming one does not take it too seriously. Here Geddy's vocals are impressive and the lyrics portray a lighter, energetic Rush who were obviously enjoying life in 1996 (though possibly not so much after the album's release).
Resist is also a fantastic song with a very aquatic sound to it that is not at all edgy. It is a very sincere sounding number in a musically lighter vein than, say, Driven or Virtuality. Limbo is also very good, stronger than Leave That Thing Alone and Where's My Thing, with some great vocal backing (though not lyrics) from Geddy. Virtuality, Test For Echo and Driven are all strong songs and are rather heavy when compared to their albums of the late 1980s.
The only song I am not overly happy with is Time And Motion. It is not particularly exciting to listen to or lyrically great but the riff of the beginning just about saves it for me. I'm sure it will grow on me, as all Rush songs do.

This album would receive 5 stars quite comfortably had Rush's other material not been so astoundingly great though it is not as bad as some people make out.

P.S. Listen to Available Light off Presto and understand why Rush are better than any band today. Rush should show today's bands how music should be made.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 September 2010
After 2 classic discs,namely 'Roll The Bones/Counterparts' this was something of a disappointment,several average tunes,hindered with a poor production(compared to the 2 previous discs) only compounded the disappointment.

Highlights,the excellent title track,'Half The World' & 'Limbo'

Clunkers 'Driven','Dog Years' & 'Totem'

The rest plain average,mostly sounding as if they'd been written in their sleep,still at least 'live' they sounded better and 'Resist' was reborn as an acoustic number.

Sadly a 6 year hiatus would follow as personal tragedy befell Neil Peart.
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on 29 December 2011
Test For Echo is one of those overlooked recordings, much like Presto and Caress of Steel, an underated Rush album with a strange reputation as being a little under par and patchy in places. It is certainly the first Rush album I bought that left me feeling slightly disappointed upon its initial release and maybe a little underwhelmed too. However, over the years, something else strange occured and I found myself falling in love with this odd but interesting 'art-rock' album.

Opening track Test For Echo is a classy composition, (one of their best in my opinion, with a classic Alex Lifeson solo) with an intriguing guitar melody, it is quietly eerie and subtle, backed with some beautiful bass work and tasteful synthesizer. Indeed this is really key to enjoying the album; melody and subtlety. It is Rush of course, the music is intricate and technical but not in such an obvious way perhaps as say, the astonishing heights of Hemispheres. The lush and layered instrumental Limbo is a good example of this, upon first listen it sounds almost straightforward, like some everyday, run of the mill rocker but dig beneath the surace and there are a lot of shifting complexities at work, it really is an excellent piece of music. Water droplets, synthesizers, funk bass and tight patterns of angular guitar make this one the most unusual Rush instrumentals.

The track Totem has a mystical, almost ethereal feel to it and has some seriously superior guitar work going on, so many ideas that make it a very interesting song in terms of colour and textures. There are some very cool harmonics placed within this track and a fantastic little bridge section, just before the main solo bursts into life, this is why Alex Lifeson is one of my favourite guitarists, he has just the right blend of technical playing infused with a rare emotional intelligence.

The album artwork is worth mentioning, I especially like the picture in the booklet, of the wolf amidst the rocks, howling at the moon, (engaged within its own test for echo) under a darkening sky, it is very evocative. The map illustration on the inside cover is very cool as is the artwork of the dogs and sledge driver that accompanies Driven. The entire booklet is a joy to look at, one of their best in fact, Hugh Syme is responsible and he came up with what I see as one of the best Rush album covers to date. I have the Japanese edition on my livingroom wall, which is a little different with the snow landscape being presented as a nighttime scene.

Time and Motion is classic Rush, muscular, technical and features some superb playing from every single member. I love the bass run (at 4.00) and Alex's wild, chaotic sounding solo. Test For Echo is an album that positively brims with highly original and exciting guitar work. There are some great bursts of synthesizer (used very sparingly on this album) during the song that work really well and add another layer of colour and mood to the sound. There are also some interesting time changes which I believe alternate between 12/8 and 10/8 for those of you that are interested in such things. The lyrics on this track are just excellent, especially during that little dark, eerie, and haunting (again, almost mystical) sounding middle section.

'The mighy ocean -
Dances with the moon
The silent forest -
Echoes with the loon.'

Driven is another highlight, heavy and full of great bass work from Geddy Lee and, as always, some first class percussion from Neil Peart, the cymbal work and detail is excellent, especialy on the hi-hats, ride and splash cymbals. The live version on Different Stages is the superior version, (for me at least and definately worth checking out) with the bass solo section extended and several percussive improvements from Neil, the double choke on the hi-hat springs to mind and is not on the original studio version, listen out for it, it is a seriously cool piece of playing. Live, this track really comes to life, it simply sounds huge.

Dog Years, with its bounding (almost punk) rock energy offers a glimpse at a more light hearted version of Rush, at least lyrically but it still manages to display Peart's seriously heavy rock drumming skills and it is embellished with some great technical detail. Virtuality has some rather awkward lyrics but there is a wonderfully heavy riff and fantastic percussion both electronic and acoustic, with an array of cowbells and pressed down snare drum fills that more than hold the interest.

Resist is another Rush gem, a beautifully crafted folk-rock composition, delicate in places but powerful in others, Lifeson's soaring celtic guitar line is a thing of beauty, it almost seems to float, it sounds and feels emotional, with an airy quality and always makes me think of a green hillside, leading to a snow covered mountain that conceals treacherous black rock, a light blue sky sits high above and the sun is a pale coin, remote and vague, though sometimes glinting.

Test For Echo is certainly worthy of exploring again, if perhaps you did not appreciate it first time round. Of course, as with all music, it all comes down to taste in the end and the proof is in the listening. However, to these ears at least, there is a lot to enjoy if you are willing to give it some time and some serious critical listening. I would recommend trying to obtain the original 1996 edition of the album and not the remaster, as it is (in my opinion) the superior version, the quality of the booklet is better, as is the sound quality.

What is considered a rather average album by some, upon listening and studying, one may find that underneath the surface of the music, some hidden detail may reveal itself and you might just see that beyond the initially standard sounding songs is something that is actually approaching and entering the realm of a very special album.
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on 11 October 2010
Its Rush ... its gets 5 stars. That said, Test For Echo comes really close to falling into the same trap as Counterparts in that at times it can sound a bit samey. Put me on the spot and ask me to name a track from T4E and other than the title track I am struggling. There aren't enough tracks on here that convince me to usurp some others from my iPod playlist and so along with Counterparts its one of the albums I know the least ...perhaps that is an indication to me that I need to dust off the CD case and play it a bit more often when I am in the kitchen. It just falls slightly short of being called a superb album but it is still well worthy of the 5 stars. My recommendation would be to get into Rush before you give this one a go ... then judge it for yourself. I'm now off to re-educate myself.
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on 10 April 2001
T4E suffers from being the next studio album after Counterparts. Although this album is fairly consistent, there are not enough classic Rush moments. That said, Lifeson's Guitar is further cranked up and those pesky keyboards are almost laid to rest (thank god!). I think that the live versions of the songs included on "Different Stages" sound much better and have more energy which makes me wonder whether using Peter Collins as Producer for the 2nd album running was a mistake (this seems to have happened with "Power Windows" and "Hold Your Fire").
Still, we get the wonderful Test for Echo (album opener) which sees the Trinity rocking the house down, Geddy Lee's basstastic Driven (3 bass parts!), Totem and a very enjoyable instrumental romp in Limbo.
Lots of interesting use of electric and acoustic guitar - just a shame that the songs are not quite top notch by Rush's own (extremely) high standards!
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