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Elegant Simplicity (UK) - 2001 - "Palindrome"
(58 min, "Proximity")


******
Palindrome  4:46
The Twinning of Souls  6:26
The Way Back Home  10:08
Between Two Points  9:08
Let It Be Me  9:48
The Physical World  8:39
Still Flattering  3:54
Still Hearing Your Voice  7:49

All songs composed and arranged by Steven McCabe. Performed by Elegant Simplicity (?). Engineered, mixed and mastered between 13.10.1999 & 26.12.2000 by S. McCabe. Produced by S. McCabe. Cover design and artwork by S. McCabe.

Line-up: Steven McCabe - guitars, keyboards, bass, drums (?!) With special guest: Ken Senior - lead and backing vocals (on tracks 3, 5, 7)

Prologue. Several months ago (as far as I remember it was in the middle of last October) I wriote a kind of pre-production review on skeleton version of "Palindrome" called then as "Excerpts from Palindrome" and featuring at least two third of real "Palindrome". Even then, if you remember, I was "simply shocked (in a good meaning) with the new sound" of the band, with the creation of which I was familiar very well. Finally, the completed version - exactly the "Palindrome" CD released by Steven McCabe's own "Proximity Records" - just reached me as a limited picture-disc edition. Also, I feel happy knowing that such famous and very talented artists as Bjorn Lynne (of Solo fame) and Ken Senior (of Parallel Or 90-Degrees and Elegant Simplicity fame, though now he's going to be a solo performer for a while) this year signed Steven's independent "Proximity" of all labels. Doubtless, they'll find here an absolute creative freedom without pressure, including even its 'hidden' forms such as earnest recommendations, etc, whose traces can now be found in those progressive labels that have already become transatlantic corporations (real majors actually) and not only. Back to Elegant Simplicity, I have to wonder at how the band's only mastermind Steven McCabe can release (at least) very good progressive albums since 1996. And what's especially interesting, - beginning with the debut album in 1992 Elegant Simplicity releases a new album every year (at least - again and again, and over, pardon by pardon to you - from the most underrated tautology-maker).

The Album. 13 original studio albums for 9-10 years of Elegant Simplicity's existence - such an activity reminds me the first half of those wonderful 1970s with the only exception. I can't recall any Prog-bands whose albums would grow always more interesting over the years of their existence, especially those of them that reached their creative peak on their tenth anniversary. Yes, like Elegant Simplicity, whose "Palindrome" is undoubtedly the best work the band (?) ever created. It must be added, however, that all the five previous albums by Elegant Simplicity - to begin with "The Nature of Change" of 1996 are very respectable works from any point of view. And such gems as "Purity And Despair" (1998), "The Story of Our Lives" (2000), and especially "Palindrome", are worthy to be especially awarded, as it already happened in Hungary (for details go to http://www.elegantsimplicity.com/ or to http://www.proximityrecords.co.uk. Talking about the "Palindrome" album generally, this is the first Elegant Simplicity album which is filled with a wide-variety of diverse arrangements throughout the album, but especially in purely instrumental pieces. Some of these pieces contain wonderful truly bombastic episodes, as well as the most complex structures with unique compositional solutions at the end. Each composition on "Palindrome" consists of several different themes and most of them are developed with very extensive arrangements. Here's a lot of brilliant simultaneous yet, at the same time, very different among themselves solos of each instruments endlessly crossing each other, but always - 'exclusively' on the lands of Her Majesty, Queen of Classical Harmony. I can guess that all these wonderful guitar and keyboards (perhaps, bass too) passages and solos were performed by Steven himself, but who is this outstanding drummer whose work I hear on "Palindrome"? Never before have I heard such an extensive and virtuosic (obviously 'live') drumming in Elegant Simplicity. Frankly, I can't imagine that this is once again Steven himself. Then, has he been taking lessons from someone like Phil Collins or Phil Ehart all these 10 years of his musical career?

Summary. The new Elegant Simplicity album is a masterpiece for which myself and many fans of the band have been waiting many years. Is it the same "melodic/underground/progressive" band we knew earlier? Well, although this new work by Steven McCabe still contains some melodic lines, the large number of diverse themes and the complexity of arrangements now more than ever before fully correspond to music that we call Classic Art / Symphonic Progressive Rock at its very best!

VM. May 16, 2001


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