Monday, 24 November 2014

Rhys Marsh - Sentiment

It's getting to that time of year when we think about our favourite albums of the year. It has been another bumper year as far as I am concerned so the problem was what to choose as the best. Problem now solved with the release of Rhys Marsh's solo album "Sentiment". This is an absolute corker of an album. It has everything I like in my prog, especially the ubiquitous mellotron and there is plenty of that on here. This album therefore has the epic majesty of early Crimson, the Scandinivian melancholy of Anekdoten, White Willow and the such (Marsh is an Englishman, based in Norway), even hints of the classical art rock of early Dead Can Dance and with nods to the modern take on the emotional torch songs of Tim Bowness it ticks all the right boxes for me! But it's the sweeping wonder of these songs that captivates. Hugely emotional and musically rivetting, with all the songs deftly arranged to maximise their impact succinctly. No song longer than around 6 minutes or so and with the whole collection nimbly coming in at a satisfying 41 minutes. It's been a great year for Marsh as his other, more experimental project as part of the trio Kaukasus also rates highly on my radar. At this rate Rhys Marsh is very soon going to be quite a force to be reckoned with. So, album of the year? You bet!


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Yes - Relayer 2014 Steven Wilson Remix

This is easy. Relayer has always been my favourite Yes album, ever since getting it for Christmas in 1975! I loved every aspect of the album. The music, lyrics, playing, sleeve design. Apart from the production. It just always sounded a bit of a splurge. So much going on, it just sounded too busy, messy and a mush of sound. I put it down to how it was recorded, using a mobile recording unit at Chris Squires fledgling recording studio. If it was recorded in a proper professional studio, it may have sounded better? However, this new mix by Steven Wilson proves that it was recorded fine. In fact this new mix was a profound experience. I mean that! I have lived with this recording for nearly 40 years and have owned it on vinyl, cassette and all the various CD incarnations. But it has never been a totally satisfying listen. So, I resigned myself to the fact that one of my favourite ever recordings would sound as it always has. But, listening to this new mix! This is how it should have sounded. Everything that should be there is there, but clearer and so better defined. There are layers and layers of instrumentation and vocals, but you can now pinpoint them with precision accuracy! It is like listening to this recording for the first time. Wilson's remixes for the other Yes albums have been interesting and worthwhile, but the difference he has made on Relayer is profound indeed.

Of course, the whole experience is enhanced by the exceptional work in the packaging too. This is the best reproduction of the original sleeve in CD form I have come across and it is nice to see alternative artwork from Roger Dean too. The notes by Sid Smith are as informative as always, with some great live photos showing the stage design in all it's glory. The blu-ray is stuffed with hi-res, 5.1 mixes, instrumental mixes, live tracks, flat transfers and needle-drops. Every possible permutation of the album is here. This is a master class in how to do archival releases.

I cannot wait to see what the team come up with for Topographic Oceans!