[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
TRACK LIST: 1. Now 10:00 2. Distracted 7:40 3. Dirty Mind 9:21 4. Another Vision 7:08 5. Some Fear Growing Old 6:56 6. Between Me & the End 5:58 7. Modern Times 21:10 All tracks: by Parmenter. LINE-UP: Matthew Parmenter - vocals; instruments (see review) Mathew Kennedy - basses Produced & engineered by Parmenter.
Prolusion. The name of Matthew PARMENTER is certainly well known to the connoisseurs of Classic Symphonic Progressive. The former member and one of the main masterminds behind >Discipline, Matthew presently forges a solo path. "Astray" is his first outing in this walk of life, and in addition to him, another former member of Discipline, bassist Mathew Kennedy, is part of this project. I automatically associated this lineup with that of >Apogee. Those interested in reading the review of the debut of Eyestrings, the band led by Matthew's younger brother Ryan, please click >here.
Synopsis. The ABC of this musical entity is as follows. Archetype: Symphonic Progressive. Benefactors (here: teachers in absentia): Van Der Hammill, with your permission, and Pink Floyd. Creed: Orthodox Art-Rock. Originally the vocalist, keyboardist, violinist and brass player, Matthew Parmenter appears on "Astray" as, that said, a more than full-fledged multi-instrumentalist. Even though Matthew's ability to play guitar and drums aren't marked with a high virtuosity, just like in the case of his principal benefactor Peter Hammill, they're good enough to make a professional studio recording. The instruments that are widely used on the album are piano, Mellotron, electric and bass guitars, acoustic drums and, of course, vocals. There also are the rhythms of acoustic guitar on two songs and solos of Hammond on one. Only the two tracks here (5 & 6) feature passages of violin and solos of sax (respectively), which is regretful, as the album would have had a much more colorful sound if these instruments were present on each composition or at least on most of them. With the exception of the 21-minute Modern Times, the music usually develops from quiet to rather powerful and dense, but is always either slow or moderately slow in tempo, remaining distinctly dramatic in character in most cases. As many could have expected, Matthew's desire to follow Peter Hammill's legacy is still inseparable from his creation. Besides, it is more striking now than ever before. Both vocally and instrumentally, Now (1) clearly resembles Van Der Graaf Generator in the middle of the '70s. Peter Hammill's "The Noise" is mirrored in Distracted (2), "And Close As This" in Another Vision (4), the most part of which consists exclusively of piano passages and vocals, and "X My Heart" in Between Me & the End (6). Most of Matthew's guitar solos, however, represent something average between those of David Gilmour in early Pink Floyd and Peter Hammill on "World Record". Some Fear Growing Old (5) sounds like a medley of Pigs on the Wing from "Animals" and the title track of "Wish You Were Here" with the added violin solo. Yeah, the vocals of Matthew's another benefactor weren't forgotten, too. You know, I am not of those who use comparisons anywhere, not to mention recklessly, but this is not the case when there is at least the smallest opportunity to avoid them. However, there are two compositions that make this effort something more than the man's tribute to his passions. These are Dirty Mind (3) and the aforementioned epic Modern Times, and they last more than 30 minutes. While not vocally, but instrumentally these are highly original and represent an intricate Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Jazz-Fusion and Cathedral Metal. Furthermore, Modern Times is largely instrumental and is just a mind-blowing masterpiece that will blow you away to Prog heaven. It made the album!
Conclusion. Having summed up all the virtues and flaws of "Astray", I made the inference that this is an excellent work, nothing more nothing less. This nostalgic album is a thing of beauty, but there are too many things that sound familiar, if not to say derivative, to rate it higher than with 5 stars. If the review itself seems to be less positive than the conclusion, here is the rationale, which is always applicable with regard to true artists, in spite of all. Don't drink if you don't want to, but don't spit into tasty compote even if the chef washes his feet there! Recommended is the word.
VM: June 24, 2004
[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]