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(56:23, Bright Orange Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Requiem For the Living 13:26 2. Either / Or 7:33 3. Intermission-1 2:13 4. How to Seduce a Ghost 4:55 5. Radio Song 4:24 6. Intermission-2 1:36 7. Laudanum 22:14 LINEUP: Oscar Fuentes-Bills – pianos, synthesizers; bass; programming Sepand Samzadeh – guitars; synthesizers With: Jon Mattox – drums Vivi Rama – bass Jeremy Castillo – guitars &: Jason Hemmens – saxophone (5, 7) Kevin Williams – trombone (5, 7) Sean Erick – trumpet (5, 7) Hollie – vocalization (2) Jeffrey Samzadeh – vocalization (1) Marjory Fuentes – voice (3)
Prolusion. The moniker of this American project, DAYS BETWEEN STATIONS (DBS hereinafter), proves that its founders, Oscar Fuentes and Sepand Samzadeh, are very deeply impressed by Steve Erickson’s debut novel of the same name (issued back in 1985 and presented as an “intellectual bestseller”, it still has a cult status in some sci-fi lovers’ circles and beyond). This, self-titled, DBS debut album indicates in its turn the outfit’s preferences in music, to say the least.
Analysis. The seven instrumental tracks here are all to a greater or lesser extent marked with (usually very distinct) signs of the influence of Pink Floyd, and although two of them, How to Seduce a Ghost and Intermission-2, structurally suggest so-called space music rather than conventional Space Rock, neither is an exception to the rule. To be more precise, both represent a kind of electronically-programmed take on the English band’s early work (which also typifies Tangerine Dream for instance), with a simple drum beat underlining synthesizer drones as well as effects elicited by the musicians from their instruments and – rarely – real solos. Another obvious influence here is Eloy, the German symphonic space rock masters, who are also followers of it’s clear whom, though at times I’m reminded of Hawkwind as well. The album begins in a very promising way, offering lush symphonic Ambient with a sense of classical music and some male muezzin-like vocalizations-incantations along the way, which, besides being imbued with a mysterious aura, has a striking identity to its sound. Soon, however, it turns out that the opening track, Requiem for the Living, is in reality compiled of two different compositions, and somewhere in the middle of this 13-minute track the music transforms into a balladic, basically monothematic space rock tune that repeats the Great Gig in the Sky from “Dark Side of the Moon”. What especially surprises me is that the next two tracks, Either / Or and Intermission-1, both come across exclusively as the sequels of the opener’s second half, the appearance of (the very characteristic) female vocalizations even stronger increasing the resemblance between this stuff and Pink Floyd, particularly with their aforesaid song. That being said, Oscar Fuentes and Sepand Samzadeh both really succeed in imitating the playing of David Gilmour and Richard Wright, respectively. All in all, the first third of the recording finds DBS for the most part strictly following their mentors, in terms of both composition and performance, and so delivering what comes across as overly derivative, on all levels. Like those described first, the two tracks featuring guest brass players, Radio Song and Laudanum, also contain some sections with a slow-building textural layering typical of German e-music school (I cannot bring myself to follow most of my brothers in pen and call it Krautrock, since this ‘term’ means nothing other than German Rock, i.e. is too general to be a definition), but who would dispute that the implied style appeared due to its originators’ keenness on Pink Floyd? Overall, however, these are fairly diverse and generally decent compositions where the others’ ideas (think all the aforesaid bands) adjoin the group’s own discoveries. Well, Radio Song is highly impressive only during its third movement where DBS go heavy, somewhere in the Eloy style, whilst otherwise this piece reminds me of a cross between mid-to-late ’80s Hawkwind and The Alan Parsons Project: partly because of the presence of vocoder and sequenced solos as well as simplistic chords on the part of the brass section. In the end, the 22-minute Laudanum is the only track here where plain arrangements more often give way to complicated ones than vice versa and where the brass players from time to time venture on genuinely jazz improvisations, even though only some of their corresponding moves are positively wild (like those by Hawkwind’s Nik Turner for instance), while the others are as polished as those in Pink Floyd. There are also some strong passages from both Fuentes and Samzadeh, as well as most of the other musicians involved on the epic, but on the other hand some of the calmer movements are overextended. Generally, although it's long, this composition doesn’t leave a sense of being a true, always logically developing, suite: it lacks of cohesion in places, some of its segments sounding like they were artificially introduced into its body after it was completed.
Conclusion. No doubt, fans of conventional Pink Floyd-style music will find this disc to be an essential listen. Personally I only can appreciate derivative stuff when those behind it are in all senses on a par with their benefactors. In other words, I would have been more enthusiastic about DBS if they had presented their version of “Animals”, but... None of the Pink Floyd wannabes (whose name is legion) had even made an attempt to do something in the vein of that, the legend’s most progressive as well as technically complex effort, since it’s just over their heads.
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