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Ancient Vision (USA) - 1994 - "Focus or Blinders"
(72 min, "Ancient Vision")


****

1.  Fail Not Me                          4:53
2.  Rock Child                           4:46
3.  What is Not Given is Lost            3:56
4.  Tonight                              4:48
5.  Dreams                               1:59
6.  Why Send a Man in to do a Boy's Job 10:12
7.  Father and Son                       5:53
8.  We are Not Gentlemen                 5:32
9.  Focus or Blinders?                   6:12
10. Mountains                            5:51
11. Mother Earth                         5:44
12. Hope, Love and Fear                  1:58
13. Reprisals                            9:09

Tom May     - guitars, keyboards
Barry Spry  - bass
Joe Allen   - keyboards
Rob Leithem - drums
Russ Gross  - guitars
Tom Hook    - vocals

and:
Debbie Brown - b/vox 1,3,9,13
Stephen Lon Phillips - sax 5,11

All music and lyrics by Tom May.
Additional incidental musical material by Joe Allen.
Arrangements by Ancient Vision.

A hidden progressive band from Ohio producing albums independently. This is the second work by the talented composer and lyricist Tom May, founder/leader of Ancient Vision.

The album.

The album of 72 min. length contains 13 tracks each ranging from 4 to 13 minutes. Music-wise is not very complex, but original. Which is the main trump for an artist. Although the album is vocal-based on the whole, the instrumental parts are performed impeccably. Moreover, you won't find chords as such here, and even the vocals are immediately followed by a fretful musical action. The singer Tom Hooks fits ideally for the conceptual lyrics of Tom May. It's pretty strange to hear that unusual singing manner in an Art Rock program. Amazingly sound the high as well as the almost brutal notes of the singer.

While the vocals are done great, the instrumental parts rest mostly on original interplays of semi-acoustic guitar and diverse keyboards - from piano to soft-sounding synthesizer. Tom May seems to have found a new way in the traditional classic art rock. Actually, his every composition is not without some kind of magic. An album of such a level ought to be heard by mass audience, since this music has a unique meddle of progressivity, an expressed melody (kind of Pink Floyd's "Dark side of the moon", in some way). Tracks like Fail Not Me and Rock Child feature a brutal nice vocal, beautiful melodic lines and not at once discernible arrangements. What is Not Given is Lost is perhaps the most accessible song here, and yet it sounds out of the beaten track. Why Send a Man in to do a Boy's Job, We are Not Gentlemen, Focus or Blinders and Mountaains are the best in terms of progressivity, featuring richly textured, multi-layer music. Tracks Tonight, Father and Son and Mother Earth are characterized by arrangements of average level of complexity, whereas tracks Dreams and Hope, Love and Fear are just nice sketches. The last track Reprisals features a synthesis of the basic thoughts - refrains that are contained in each compositon, pronounced on a rather monotonous musical background.

Summary. Sympathetic, moderately complex art rock, whose main merit is apparent originality in composing and arrangement. I liked a lot the vocals and lyrics. On the whole, it's not an ordinary work. However, the presence of a couple of good clean songs spoils the overall impression. Also, the closing track is almost free of ideas. And anyhow, it's a good album. content

VM. February 11, 2000


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