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1. Exiles 2. Tonk 3. Slippy Slide 4. Duo 5. This is Your Life 6. Fast 7. Troppo 8. Here All compositions written and arranged by D.Cross and the others. David Cross - violins Dan Maurer - drums Paul Clark - guitars Mick Paul - bass Dave Kendall - keyboards Robert Fripp - guitars John Wetton - vocals Guest musicians: Peter Hammill - vocals Peter Claridge - guitars Pete McPhail - flutes
Ex-King Crimson's violinist David Cross returned to rock scene in 1987, after 12 years of absolute inactivity. The three previous albums of this very talented musician and composer were self-released by Cross's own small company "Music Galore" LTD., but later on the second and third CDs were pressed by an obscure German prog-label "Inside Out" under license (maybe the first too?). So, up to now David Cross's creation has been unheard-of. But the fourth effort, licensed by a solid independent US label "Cleopatra",is released and distributed over the world for the first time. Some prog-oriented Japanese labels probably publishe Cross's works too.
The first song Exiles was originally composed by Cross himself for King Crimson's "Larks' tongues in aspic" (1973) album. Good thing there are new arrangements of instrumental parts, unlike the original. In his solo career Cross moves into traditional classic symphonic prog (though sometimes extremely heavy), and Exiles-2 is made in this direction, while the younger Cross loved very much avantgarde, psychedelic and even a bit jazzy sound. However, Wetton sings much the same the old version, making all vocal parts very Crimsonesque.
Peter Hammill enters vocals in the second track Tonk, and the employment of his voice here is a good idea too, because musically this song is absolutely Crimsonesque. Heavy, typical Frippian guitar riffs actually take after Great Deceiver, Lament or Red from Crimson's albums of 1974. Superb violin and guitar driven musicianship are also slightly Crimson-influenced all over the tracks here. So, Tonk is another song not of Cross's style.
In the next two tracks vocals are out. The original sound, that strikes the two previous albums, returns in Slippy Slide and Duo. The first of them begins gently, but half-minute later fast and heavy guitars blow up (three guitarists!) and acrobatic violin solos go on till the end. In contrast, Duo is a slow, spacey and slightly psychedelic, keyboards dominated instrumental. After the piano intro, themes are developped by synthesizers with overdubbing of soft arrangements by violin and guitar. Compared to some live instrumentals from "Testing...".
The fifth track with John Wetton's vocals is the most accessible for the last three Cross' albums (I haven't heard his first vocalless "Memos..."). This Is Your Life sounds more ballad than prog, and soon becomes boring unlike the other compositions.
Number 6 Fast is really fast, also heavy and energetic, not unlike Slippy Slide with the same fantastic violin and guitar arrangements. The next track Troppo is again for Hammill, and Peter sings unusually. For the first time I hear the vocalization from him, though lyrics-based vocals are familiar. Extremely heavy basis is maintained here, but of mid-tempo, with the exception of Crossian vocal sound. The last track Here is instrumental in the same direction, but sometimes a bit faster, again with elements of violin driven Prog-metal. In the end Wetton alone sings one little piece from This Is Your Life.
Summary. The line-up of the band has had some changes after the previous "Testing to destruction" of 1994. The absence of original and regular Cross's keyboardist Sheila Maloney is understood - she's in maternity leave (but still the member of the band and will return). Why was replaced the poet and bassist/vocalist John Dillon, though artworks of this CD are made by him? Well, the presence of Wetton and Hammill... But Dillon's bass-work I like a bit more than the current. And I like it much more, when only one man sings in any album, but not two or more and so different here. This factor a contrast to the album's conception. Also, Cross's recognizible monolithic atmosphere gets disfigured (maybe they intend to call to mind "Testing to destruction"?) by two very Crimson-like songs and an accessible This Is Your Life. Good thing that instrumental works and arrangements are a high point of the album (including both "Crimsonics"). In my opinion, these are much more pompous than different, though great, vocals. And if I can't say that this Cross's product is a masterpiece, I can still rate the album as excellent, as one of the most serious CDs in the vein of classic symphonic Prog in the 90's. David Cross remains one of the few Prog-veterans who create music of the quality of the 70's.
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