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Orford, Martin - 2000 - "Classical Music And Popular Songs"
(51 min, "GEP")


*****

Tracklist:

1. The Field of Fallen Angels
2. A Part of Me
3. Quilmes
4. The Days of Our Lives
5. Fusion
6. The Final Solution
7. The Picnic
8. The Overload
9. Tatras
10.Evensong

Music and lyrics on all songs by Martin Orford except:
4 (music M.Orford, lyrics J.Wetton)
6 (music M.Orford & P.Nicholls, lyrics M.Orford)
8 (music M.Orford & M.Holmes, lyrics M.Orford)

Produced by Martin Orford and Rob Aubrey. Recorded at 'Nomansland' studios, New Forest, between February and July 2000. Engineered and mastered by Rob Aubrey.

Line-up: Martin Orford - lead and backing vocals, keyboards (and orchestration), flutes, acoustic guitar, mandolin (all tracks); Gary Chandler (of Jadis, all tracks except 3,7&9) - rhythm and lead electric guitars; John Jowitt (of IQ / Jadis, all tracks, except 3,7,9) - bass guitar; Steve Christey (of Jadis, all tracks, except 3,6,7,8&9) - drums; David Kilminster (on tracks 1,2&6) - lead electric and acoustic guitars; Paul Cook (of IQ, on tracks 2,6&8) - drums / percussion / tambourine; Michael Holmes (of IQ, on track 5) - lead electric guitar; Peter Nicholls (of IQ, on track 8) - lead vocals; Tony Wright (on track 4) - saxophone

Prologue. This is the first solo album by Martin Orford, the former member and one of the masterminds of his 'native' band IQ. He is also well known for his work in another popular British band Jadis, let alone a few more ProGjects with his participation. Producer, composer, lyricist, keyboardist, flautist, after all, multi-instrumentalist, one of the true activists on the hard road of reanimation of the Progressive Rock movement since the first half of the 'dark 80's decade', Orford has released "Classical Music and Popular Songs" on the IQ's own, already well established label "Giant Electric Pea".

The album. Really, this is an album consisting of about equal parts of vocal based tracks and all-instrumental pieces. But, if the words "Classical Music" in reality correspond with the album's title almost fully, I don't really know why Martin named the songs presented on the album "popular" (Pop!). Here is, I think, a real picture of the nature of this work. Let's begin with the second part of the album title. There are five songs on the album, and three of them I wouldn't dare to name even as songs of the Neo Prog genre. Both opening songs and The Overload are very well composed and constructed since in their arrangement schemes was used exactly the "classical" way - with regular changes of structures, including the vocal themes, changes of tempos and rich, tasteful and quite diverse short and long instrumental parts between the vocals. So, The Field of Fallen Angels, The Overload and A Part of Me (too!) are undoubtedly the Classic Art Rock songs thanks to their truly 'prog' sounding and moderate level of complexity. Also, of course, they would be excellent additions to any IQ album in the '90s, the period in their creation I like most as well as their starting phase in the early '80s. Two other songs - The Days of Our Lives and The Final Solution - with their accessible and clearly melodious vocal lines have an obvious Neo spirit, but their instrumental parts were arranged in a quite diverse and also very tasteful way again. So all in all, I can't call them other than just excellent Neo songs. The main positive characteristics of this album is, however, exactly the presence of all-instrumental pieces and, that's the main thing, all these pieces are very different among themselves. I can't remember another solo album that was made in this, at the first sight, a bit strange way - without any stylistic conception, and that's really good to listen to such an unusual, and in reality innovative solo album. One of the five "classical musics" - Fusion - is nothing but very progressive and intricate full-fledged (played by the band) instrumental with some really 'bombastic' episodes. A real killer of Classic Progressive Rock. The third track Quilmes, performed only by Martin himself, is a true classical piano piece. The Picnic is a composition of the same genre, but played on the acoustic guitar. This is a true acoustic gem, complex and virtuostic, reminding of those wonderful years when the presence on the album of such unique things was considered by the majority of Art Rock Titans as a necessity. Tatras is a kind of very tasteful classical symphonic music. The last track Evensong has the first part of the same sounding, but the "conclusion" of the album was made with the participation of the full-fledged band.

Summary is simple. The most daring solo album and one of at least the few really innovative solo albums I ever heard.

VM. November 17, 2000


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