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(55:42, ‘Comedy Of Errors’)
TRACK LIST: 1. My Grief Lies All Within 5:24 2. Infinite Wisdom 1:51 3. Spirit Shines / Spirit 4:26 4. Can This Be Happening? 3:52 5. In Darkness Let Me Dwell 3:04 6. I Call and Cry to Thee 5:42 7. Set Your Spirit Free / Meet Again 3:22 8. Ascension / Et Resurrexit / Auferstehen 6:55 9. Into the Light 5:04 10. Above the Hills 5:20 11. This Is How It Has to Be 5:59 12. Spirit 4:42 LINEUP: Joe Cairney – vocals Bruce Levick – drums Mark Spalding – guitars Sam McCulloch – guitars, bass Jim Johnston – keyboards; vocals
Prolusion. The UK (Scottish) outfit COMEDY OF ERRORS (COE hereinafter) was originally active back in the ‘80s, one of many neo-progressive bands at the time that never quite made it. But following a couple of decades of inactivity the band reformed again, and since their return in 2011 they have steadily built a reputation and a growing fan base with the three studio albums they have provided us with this second time around. "Spirit", their most recent studio album, was self-released by the band in 2015.
Analysis. Those with a passionate relation to old school progressive rock will probably savor the core premise of this album: A conceptual production, featuring a 10-part epic composition clocking in at 45 minutes, followed by an instrumental epilog and with a single edit of one of the songs tucked in as a self-described bonus track. It's an ambitious production, to put it that way, and those fond of conceptual lyrics dealing with deeper matters will find a lot to be of interest in that department. In terms of the music explored, I guess you might describe it as neo-progressive rock, although a good call could be made for this CD to be closer aligned with the symphonic progressive rock realm as well. The ten parts of the epic, that dominate the disc, alternate quite a lot in expression. Atmospheric sequences, featuring careful keyboard textures, and more majestic ones, sporting a digital symphonic orchestration, stand side by side with pastoral, elegant sections, harder edged guitar driven ones and dramatic sections with both keyboards and guitars delivering sharper textures to the proceedings. Sacral, religious moods and atmospheres are very much present indeed, as are darker ones with what one might describe as a less uplifting general atmosphere. But there are also jubilant fanfare-inspired sections and dampened, elegant melancholic parts to enjoy here – pretty much material from all over the progressive rock spectrum, from the ambient and pastoral to the majestic and melodramatic. What might be slight nods in the direction of artists like Rush, ELP and IQ are very much present, but if I should go out on a limb as far as comparisons go. I suspect, Yes and Jon Anderson would be my main stopping point. The main composition here certainly has the ambition of a band like Yes, and while COE doesn't have quite the skill set of Anderson and his various compatriots over the years, I get the feeling that they do aim in that general direction fairly often, in terms of instrument movements, structural elements and developments, and – occasionally – also in the overall sound and arrangements formed and explored. But the vocals of Joe Cairney are probably the main reason for my strong association in that department, as, apart from a couple of occasions with a sharper, darker and angry vocal style, he tends to soar with light-toned vocals where the mode of delivery is comparable to Jon Anderson. Cairney doesn't have the range, nor has he the crystal clear voice, but, to my mind, this is where the band aims with the vocals. To the extent that if Jon Anderson should ever have a go at this material, I suspect, it would have had an even greater impact on the listener, as my impression is that the greater amount of the material here is just about tailor made for him or a vocalist with a directly comparable approach, tone and timbre. Cairney does a good job, his slightly dark voice suits the material quite nicely indeed, but I do get quite a lot of Jon Anderson vibes from the way that he chooses to sing rather frequently.
Conclusion. Those fond of ambitious bands that operate within a neo progressive-meets-symphonic progressive rock kind of landscape should find this CD by COE to be of general interest. A key audience would be those that tend to enjoy concept albums dealing with deeper spiritual matters, and especially those who find the notion of a 45-minute long epic dedicated to such a topic in a style as described above to be alluring.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: October 6, 2016
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