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All Over Everywhere - 2010 - "Inner Firmaments Decay"

(41:51, Emkog Records)


*****+

Prolusion. The US-based project ALL OVER EVERYWHERE is the brainchild of composer and instrumentalist Trinna Kesner, with music and concepts mainly developed by her over the years. But they didn't get the chance to unfold until 2007. At that point in time she got in touch with Dan Britton (Cerebus Effect, Birds And Buildings, Deluge Grander) who liked her concepts and lent a helping hand in getting them realized. The end result of this collaboration was released on Britton's label Emkog Records in the summer of 2010 as the album "Inner Firmaments Decay".

TRACK LIST:
           
1.  Art of the Earth 4:13
2.  Endless Night 3:18
3.  The Shroud 5:40
4.  Honesty 4:29
5.  After All the Years 6:57
6.  On a Dark Street 3:08
7.  Until the Sun Begins to Fall 3:32
8.  Gratitude 10:34

LINEUP:

Trinna Kesner  guitars; viola, violin
Dan Britton  keyboards; guitars
Natalie Hughes  cello; bass
Jennifer La Platnia  piano; accordion; vibes
Megan Wheatley  vocals 
Kelli Short  oboe 
Brian Falkowski  flute, clarinet
Ignacio Cruz  zither; dulcimer; guitars
Scott Robinson  percussion 
Pat Gaffney  drums 

Analysis. Back in the days when the vinyl album ruled the world of music, the expression "an album of two halves" was first coined, meaning either that the respective sides of the production sounded rather different from each other or that one of the sides was markedly better than the other. This initial effort by All Over Everywhere can to some extent be said to fall into such a category. In this case the variety isn't as evenly spread, however, as this is a case of 7 tracks adhering to one style and one track heading into rather different territories. The fact that this final track clocks in at just over 10 minutes does warrant that a distinction be made. The opening 7 numbers all take on a somewhat unique stylistic expression, combining classical and folk music influences and textures with subtle elements from the world of rock music, almost but not quite in a manner that can be described as chamber rock, where the missing ingredient for the latter is, in fact, rock. The bass guitar is very much present and both organ and Mellotron are utilized in these excursions, unless I'm much mistaken, but it is the plethora of acoustic instruments that dominates in rich, multiple layers of sounds and textures melodic and harmonic in scope, dream-filled and beautiful music to a much greater extent than boundary-breaking and challenging. The overall mood is one of sadness and melancholy, and a distinctive trait is the lack of drums on most pieces, with careful use of other percussion, strengthening the rhythmic qualities of the bass and piano as the main choices in the rhythms department. Final effort Gratitude is to some extent made of the same building blocks, but on this epic composition art rock of the symphonic manner is added to the mix. Drums get a prominent place in the proceedings, keyboards of various sorts get a more dominant placement in the mix as well as in the composition as such, and the electric guitar provides both riffs and soloing passages in this rich and majestic symphonic rock excursion. Blended with the acoustic instruments, this results in a haunting and at times driven song that should please most of those who followed this genre in its heyday. When that is said, there are a few elements to this album that will alienate listeners. The distinctly analogue sound to some extent, and the lo-fi mix and production very much more. I assume that the recording locations and the source material available had limited the options available when this disc was assembled, at least that would explain why the lead vocals are given a much more limited placement than needed and that the overall sound appears to be convoluted and circumscribed. Tastes differ, and I can see that many will be charmed by this lo-fi approach, but personally I think that a high quality recording, mix and production would have made this album much more interesting than it is. The material is strong after all, and in a world where The Transsiberian Orchestra sells a rather large amount of CDs, there should be a commercial spot available for a similar band without the metal flirtation.

Conclusion. The blend of folk, classical and art rock of the vintage symphonic school is an intriguing and engaging one on final number Gratitude, which is the major sales point of "Inner Firmaments Decay". But the chamber rock-tinged efforts that precede the track aren't too shabby either and should find a receptive audience amongst those who enjoy melodic ventures of that nature. A taste for analogue-sounding production and what appears to be somewhat of a lo-fi approach is in order though, and those addicted to slick, digital high-end productions may be put off by that particular facet of this venture.

OMB=Olav M Bjornses: December 5, 2010
The Rating Room


All Over Everywhere - 2010 - "Inner Firmaments Decay"

*****

Analysis. Yet another project featuring Dan Britton, All Over Everywhere is at the same time so far the only one in which this remarkable musician (the captain of such strong progressive rock crews as Cerebus Effect, Birds & Buildings and Deluge Grander) plays second fiddle. As stated in the CD booklet, Inner Firmaments Decay is performed by ten musicians, most of whom play chamber instruments a variety of those actually. Having noticed this, one might assume that the album is filled with the corresponding sounds and is about Chamber Rock or Classical or something in-between. In fact, however, it isnt so in either of the instances. Of the six chamber musicians only the band leader, Trinna Kesner, shines as a soloist on some occasions (most notably on Honesty, where her violin and viola work is particularly effective), whereas the others instruments seem to be merely droning, at least most of the time. Some half of the eight tracks present dont have either a rock quality to them (which I dont perceive as a fault, though), as those are performed without drums, while the percussion used consist of either congas or cymbals, all sounding soft, never powerful. That being said, the music wears mainly vintage clothes (kudos to Dan Britton, who still prefers old-and-good analog keyboards to modern ones), which, by camouflaging its own compositional unpretentiousness, transform the matter into what I see as a refined simplicity. Slow and mellow almost everywhere on the album, it also has some dreamy feeling less often in itself than due to Megan Wheatley, whose warm and relaxing vocals bring to mind a picture of a fairy singing a lullaby. Tracks such as Endless Night, On a Dark Street and Until the Sun Begins to Fall, all of which are song-based near throughout, are particularly representative in this respect. However, none sound boring, let alone annoying. The instrumental arrangements seem to be almost physically fragile, and remind me in some ways of butterflies that sing and dance in a simple, yet beautiful ring around the fairy. The first track to feature the drum kit, The Shroud, leaves a different impression in its turn. On the one hand, it is the sole tune in the set that varies in structural density, revealing some moments of power, but on the other, it is the most straightforward-sounding one. The remaining four tracks, Art of the Earth, After All the Years, Gratitude and the aforementioned Honesty, are also slow-paced, but are nevertheless quite full-fledged art-rock pieces, each featuring 2-to-3 instrumental sections, no less than one of which is positively extended. To say the least, all of these are listenable, but inasmuch as the first two the only bearers of outside factors here are influenced by Genesis and Eloy (on their instrumental and vocal levels, respectively), the others beat them in a sort of manner, both being the best tracks here, in my view.

Conclusion. The main merits of this creation, Inner Firmaments Decay, are the melodic beauty and the originality of its contents. Special notice must be paid to Brittons instrumental resourcefulness. Unlike any of the other musicians involved, Dan solos almost ceaselessly. Without his contribution as a performer and an arranger alike the album hardly would have had any progressive quality to it. Anyhow, since the music is slow and measured throughout, it comes across as a plain, not too deep-water river, whose course is seen far ahead. There are no depths that advanced prog lovers would venture to dive into without a fear of hurting their heads :-), though those of them who have cars will definitely want to add the CD to their travelling music collection if they hear/purchase it, of course.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: February 17, 2011
The Rating Room


Related Links:

All Over Everywhere
Emkog Records


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