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This review is from: Kaleidoscope (Audio CD)
Transatlantic! What a band! This is album number four and I remember clearly getting really excited back in the year 2000 when SMPTe was in the pipeline. The article was in 'Classic Rock' magazine and I suddenly realised these four differing and similar personalities could create something unbelievable. SMPTe is still my favourite album because it is so musical and melodic. This is always the album that I recommend as the 'future of prog'.The four individual band CDs at this time were 'Snow', 'Space Revolver', 'Scenes from a Memory and 'Marillion.com'. Then SMPTe dropped on to the progressive landscape like confetti at a wedding. Album number two, Bridge across Forever, did not live up to the majesty of the first album although it is still a pretty decent record. 'The Whirlwind' was brilliant but overlong! Watching them at 'High Voltage' perform the whole thing was magnificent but you just wanted them to play something from the first two albums. A mere four year wait and we get Kaleidoscope and it is another collision of four musical hopes!
Kaleidoscope has two typical Transatlantic epics that bookend the CD and three that mix things up in the middle. The middle three do add a lot of colour and diversity to the whole kaleidoscopic pattern. It's seeing the five tracks arranged so carefully that you realise why Kaleidoscope is called Kaleidoscope. I love 'Shine', track two which is a typical Morsey type guitar motif with lovely instrumentation. 'Black as the Sky' reminds me of the Spocks Beard song 'Crack the Big Sky'; it is keyboard based and is by far the weakest track on view. Beyond the sun is dreamy, atmospheric and beautiful.
'Into the Blue' and 'Kaleidoscope' are the two 30 minute epics that do sit along place the other epics in the Transatlantic canon. Both tracks have typical Morse passages with wonderful off-beat Portnoy drumming. Stolt is a dream on 'Kaleidoscope' on the 7 minute mark.
CD2 has 8 cover versions. All of them mirror the originals, there is no Transatlantic excess here so if you know 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' by Elton then you will know the Trans version. I do love the bonus disc though because it shows us exactly who the influences are. Best track here is 'Sylvia' which is fab.
Negatives, there has to be negatives! Some of the singing is really not up to scratch. Five voices are singing throughout the 2 CDs. Neal Morse has a wonderfully warm and instantly recognisable voice that has evolved over decades of serious vocal scenarios. He has played every musical genre and I have watched his career slowly transend to its current position. Daniel Gildenlow can sing too but he is out of place amongst the four Transatlantic albums. Roine Stolt and his singing has been part of my life for such a long time that I have got used to his shortcomings. Portnoy and Trewavas cannot sing but they get far too much microphone time, Trewavas sings a long passage in the middle of the title track! Why?? Why not stick with Morse? Do we really need 5 vocalists when surely one would do? Spocks Beard had wonderful harmonies and I think Morse is trying to recreate this here but it just doesnt work. When Yes went on tour they did not have five singers!
Kaleidoscope is a 5 star album with a star knocked off for the singing arrangements.
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Initial post: 9 Mar 2014 23:06:24 GMT
Many thanks for an informative and engaging read. Transatlantic are an astonishing collision of talents, I feel that this is probably the weakest of their four current studio efforts. 4 stars is probably about right too. Cheers!
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