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(59:28; Drifting Sun)
According to the Bible (as described by Record Collector), ‘The Progressive Underground Vol. 1’, I first reviewed Drifting Sun in January 1997 when they were a very different beast indeed to what I am listening to now. Pat Sanders (keyboards, drum programming, composer and producer) and bassist Manu Michael are of course still there, as they have always been, but while drummer Will Jones has been around since the band started their second phase in 2015 and guitarist Mathieu Spaeter has also been there for a few albums, they appear to have misplaced singer Peter Falconer who has been with the band in recent years, and instead they have brought in three new vocalists. Step forward Marc Atkinson, Colin Mold and Joshua Corum who each get three songs. I really appreciate the album has been constructed so we have a singer for. The first three songs (Marc), an intervening instrumental, another three from the next singer (Colin), instrumental, and then the final three (Josh). It allows the ears to adjust to the new voice and provides far more continuity than one might expect. I really enjoyed ‘Twilight’, and Pat Sanders and I have been in contact quite a lot since then, so I knew something of what to expect with this album, but I must confess I was somewhat surprised to hear the major step change as this is a huge step forwards in every direction. To my ears this is easily the finest Drifting Sun album I have heard so far, as they take their neo prog and crossover influences and create something which is incredibly polished, dynamic and simply beautiful. All three singers add real polish to the album, but there is one song which absolutely stands out for me, namely “Born of a Dream” which is primarily Pat on piano with Josh Corum (Head With Wings) on vocals along with some gentle acoustic guitar. Pat wrote the song for Josh as he knew what he could do with the material, then asked Eric Bouillette (The Room, Nine Skies) to also become involved with it, and his response was that he was too busy but as the song made him cry he would do it! When I first heard it, I felt so moved that when it ended, I felt quite empty, so I had to play it again as it was the only thing which would fill the void. This is a sublime release, modern and progressive with pop tendencies here and there, wonderful songs performed by strong musicians with three amazing singers at the front. Complex, complicated, yet somehow simple all at the same time, this is certainly an album which is highly accessible yet also repays repeat listenings. Absolutely essential.
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