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(54 min, 'Day Shift')
TRACK LIST: 1. The Queen of Whispers 5:18 2. Evil People in Cars 5:54 3. Sand Head 5:03 4. The Burning Bush 4:31 5. Little Steps 4:59 6. Shift 5:51 7. Drift 5:46 8. Out of My Skin 5:26 9. Undercover 4:55 10. Never 6:58 LINEUP: Bob Leek - vocals; synthesizers; guitar Nick Beere - guitars Jason Tilbrook - bass Archie - drums With: Henry Crud - sax (7)
Prolusion. DAY SHIFT is a Space Metal quartet from England. Although only one year separates their debut offering, "Imaginary Menagerie", from its successor, "Of Whispers", it is certainly too early so far to consider Day Shift's work to be extensive. Generally however, these four men are productive musicians, each having several more albums to his credit. Bob Leek, Nick Beere and Jason Tilbrook were core members of Tantalus from 2000 to 2003, while Archie works on three fronts simultaneously, being also a permanent drummer for Blue Drift and The Morrigan.
Analysis. Unlike "Imaginary Menagerie" which runs 42+ minutes and is made up of five tracks ranging from 6 to 14 minutes, the nearly-55-minute "Of Whispers" comprises ten relatively short pieces, only one of which exceeds 6 minutes in duration, the differences between Day Shift's two outings being not limited to these details. The band's debut effort is an even album, meaning there are no distinct winners or also-rans among the songs present. "Of Whispers" is a more contrasting creation, but some of the tracks here are definitely the group's greatest achievements both in terms of songwriting and innovation and in the effect they exert upon the listener. Well, I'll better describe the program step by step, especially since its musical evolution can easily be divided into two phases. Phase One, Ascent (with a capital letter, by your permission), includes the first six pieces. For sure, it proceeds under the sign of progression, which, overall, steadily grows from track to track. The opener, The Queen of Whispers, is driving, meaty, saturated Hard Rock-based Space Metal and is compelling despite the numerous repetitions and the shortage of purely instrumental movements. Really! Maintaining the traditions of such of the genre's trendsetters as Hawkwind, Clear Blue Sky and Eloy, the heroes of this occasion seem to have not forgotten to take that magical wand from their benefactors which makes highly impressive even the most accessible of their best creations. Besides, the song stands out for an effective contrast between the pushing, positively violent maneuvers on the instrumental plane and the restrained, sort of laid back vocals, which in turn is one of the hallmarks of the entire album. Beginning with the second track, the synthesizer solos (sequenced and directly performed alike) become an integral part of the picture. Having noted this, I feel free to say that Evil People in Cars is basically much in the same style as The Queen of Whispers, but has a much more interesting instrumental background. The first in the series of compositions with really diverse and innovative interactions between all the instruments credited, it possesses an even stronger power to bewitch than its predecessor. Sand Head is Space Rock that rocks without being heavy and is the richest in contrasting paces. On The Burning Bush, Little Steps and Shift, the group continue developing the essence of the opening song, involving more and more instruments and sounds in the arrangement, revealing a lot of highly original creative ideas. All three are remarkable, though my favorite track on the album would probably be the latter, featuring a rather long, mysteriously sounding instrumental interlude-interplay between the pulsating bass and the monumental synthesizer, which reminds me of Stonehenge or Sphinx from Black Sabbath's '80s repertoire ("Born Again" and "Seventh Star", to be more precise). Pure magic. Phase Two, Descent, begins with Drift, which is the only instrumental composition on the CD. The music is symphonic Space Rock, and while there is a smell of electronic music too, it's clear that it was created artificially - by the use of sequenced synthesizer solo which runs all through the piece (and not to the detriment of the overall picture). Overall, Drift can also be regarded as one of the recording's highlights, and the only problem I have with this piece is its likeness to On the Run from "The Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd, though aurally it's closer to Hawkwind's "Out & Intake". Out of My Skin is traditional Hard Rock with only a slightly spacey feeling, but is good, at least as long as it is viewed within that category. A real tendency to regress becomes obvious on the next track, while the ending of the album is just disappointing. Both the last two songs, Undercover and Never, are quite ordinary song-based Rock ballads, but the latter is especially trivial, filled with an atypical romantic atmosphere, and is overextended in addition. I don't find Undercover to be also a makeweight - not at all, but anyway it is far from being an essential composition.
Conclusion. Without the last two tracks "Of Whispers" would have run 42+ minutes and been much more coherent and compelling. Nevertheless, most of the album displays that Day Shift move forward in their work, some of the songs being excellent in every respect. Just like the band's debut offering, "Of Whispers" is not destined for Symphonic Prog lovers and can be recommended exclusively to fans of Space Rock / Metal. Those liking "The Chronicle of the Black Sword" by Hawkwind and Clear Blue Sky's "Mirror of the Stars" should be the first to check this CD out. Play it loud for best effect.
VM: November 4, 2006
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