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No Name - 2009 - "20 Candles"

(70:42, Musea Records)


****+
                 
TRACK LIST:                   

1.  First Night 6:27
2.  The Summer's Already Gone 5:03
3.  Mat Enger Trein 4:45
4.  The Man 4:48
5.  Merry-Go-Round 3:32
6.  Orient Express 12:04
7.  Broken Heart 5:30
8.  Strange Decisions 6:34
9.  Dolphins Sharks & a Flood of Sunshine 5:38
10. Thoughts Pay No Toll 6:17
11. Battlefield 5:35
12. Uncompromising 4:29

LINEUP:

Patrick Kiefer  vocals 
Yves Di Prospero  guitars 
Alex Rukavina  keyboards 
Marc Muller  bass 
Christian Sonntag  drums 
With:
Fred Hormain  saxophone (7)
Jonathan Tilly  bagpipe (11)

Prolusion. NO NAME is a band hailing from Luxembourg, where it was founded back in 1989. It has issued four studio efforts since then, the most recent one in 2006. To celebrate its 20th anniversary it has assembled the compilation 20 Candles, featuring selected tracks from all the previous albums, adding in two new efforts to open and close the recording.

Analysis. Best Of albums are not usually highly regarded by fans of progressive rock. Much too often, especially when dealing with high profile acts, those tend to be outings put together with a minimum of effort. And in many cases devout fans will more or less rightly feel cheated with the contents, especially in instances where one or two previously unreleased creations have been added to make sure that the most ardent fans feel an obligation to buy. No Name shall be given credit for making this particular example of the compilation album more interesting than the average one though. The almost obligatory new tracks added on this occasion are new efforts recorded for this album rather than tunes scrapped sometime in yesteryear, and rather than assembling favorite recordings of old as is, they actually recorded all the old tracks anew as well. True enough this has been done by other artists in the past, but it is still a rather uncommon solution, and one that makes this release much more interesting than your average compilation. Musically we're dealing with a band pretty much at the heart of Neo-Progressive in terms of stylistic expressions. Echoes of acts like Marillion and IQ are present from start to finish, from the melodic and at times lavish and multi-layered keyboards and synths ever present to the dampened plucked guitar licks, atmospheric soloing and subdued drawn out guitar riffs. Energetic and often insistent bass lines drive the songs forward, steady drums keep the pace and the highly melodic themes constantly explored by guitars and the various guises of keyboards and synths mentioned. At times No Name heads out into purebred mainstream pop-tinged territories as well, where only the sophisticated synths in the back of the mix reveal that we're dealing with a band with a bit more to it than that of a good but generic pop outfit. And while the contents of this disc can hardly be said to be original no matter how you regard it, they do know their Neo-Prog, and apart from somewhat weak vocals they create some rather charming compositions on occasion - even if a tad too many ultimately end up in the "nice try but no cigar" category.

Conclusion. Those looking for original or challenging musical escapades won't be too satisfied with this latest effort of the Luxemburg-based act No Name. But those who truly enjoy vintage Neo-Progressive rock like it was made in England 25 years ago should find this production a charming acquaintance, especially those fond of the more mainstream-tinged varieties of this stylistic expression.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 16, 2009
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Musea Records
No Name


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