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(56:17, ‘Kenny Mitchell’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Voyager 25:36 2. Voyager-II 25:45 3. Race Against Time 4:56 SOLO PILOT: Kenny Mitchell – all instruments
Prolusion. UK composer and musician Kenny MITCHELL is one of many artists who seemingly have come out of nowhere the last few years, and I suspect that a combination of affordable recording possibilities, time at hand and means to distribute your music yourself without a steep cost have fueled many such ventures, although I don't know if that's the situation in this particular case. Even so, Mitchell ventured forth with an EP in 2012, two full length albums followed in 2013, of which "Voyager" is the second, and a third album is just about to be released at the time of writing.
Analysis. There are certain drawbacks to being a DIY artist. You need to be skilled at performing multiple instruments, you need to know your way around a recording situation, and you need to be able to mix and produce yourself too. And while software and computers are a combination that has enabled many to do this themselves with fairly good results, sometimes even very good results, you still need to know what you do, how you do it and in most cases an intuitive skill towards learning how to use software is needed just as much as musical knowledge and a good ear. Combining all of these skill-sets in one person is next to impossible, at least if the person is expected to be a true master of all those trades. Mitchell is like many in this field, he's good on a number of fields, but doesn't strike me as a true master. So the end result is a passable one in just about all departments. He does know what he's doing for sure, but if seasoned professionals had been used in the instruments, recording and production department the end result would have been better. For most musicians and composers out there this is of course impossible from a financial point of view alone, and allowing others to tamper with your creations is probably an obstacle to some as well. On "Voyager" Mitchell explores instrumental progressive rock. He does so in a compelling manner, combining acoustic guitars with smooth keyboard textures, utilizing darker toned guitar riffs as an undercurrent to one or both of them on occasion as well as adding in longing, dreamladen guitar solo sequences. Transitional phases and recurring motifs and themes see to it that each of the 25 minute long epics maintain a sense of identity, and occasionally he'll touch upon arrangements with more of a metal-oriented sound as well. The end result are compositions that, to my ears, first and foremost sound like material with quite a few nods in the direction of Pink Floyd at their most accessible, possibly with a few slight detours towards the likes of Mike Oldfield and Deep Purple as well. Compelling, easy to like material, but lacking the touch of Steven Wilson to really elevate the end result to something more intriguing. Well made compositions both of them, and ones that should be regarded as likeable to a fairly broad sized crowd if they ever take their time to check him out, but ultimately lacking the magical details that will earn him interviews and featured articles in the popular rock and prog magazines – to put it that way. On my promo copy a bonus track is attached. This one, Race Against Time, is the standout composition as far as I'm concerned. A much simpler affair on most levels, pairing off gnarly guitar riffs with a Deep Purple-ish organ motif, a contrast effectively and very compellingly explored in just under five minutes. Not as sophisticated as the Voyager tracks, but arguably stronger and more distinct in overall mood and atmosphere.
Conclusion. In the realm of DIY artists, UK composer and musician Kenny Mitchell has made himself a compelling creation with "Voyager". A production that does suffer a bit from being the work of a one man band, but containing two compelling pieces of instrumental progressive rock that should find favor amongst fans of bands like Pink Floyd in particular, and recommended to those amongst them who enjoy the more accessible parts of that band's repertoire. Especially if they don't mind music with somewhat more of a lo-fi production.
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