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Oliver Wakeman - 2005 - "Mother's Ruin"

(52 min, Progrock)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:                    

1.  Don't Come Running 3:45
2.  The Agent 8:36
3.  In the Movies 5:11
4.  Walk Away 4:25
5.  Mother's Ruin 6:11
6.  Calling for You 4:02
7.  If You're Leaving 4:51
8.  I Don't Believe in Angels 4:32
9.  Wall of Water 10:42

PERSONNEL:

Oliver Wakeman - keyboards & piano
Dave Mark Pearce - el. & ac. guitars
Moon Kinnaird - vocals
Tim Buchanon - bass
Dave Wagstaffe - drums

Prolusion. Although "Mother's Ruin" is the ninth album in the general discography of English keyboardist and composer Oliver WAKEMAN, it marks my first acquaintance with his work. The history of the artist's activity in the field of progressive music is as widely known as his genealogy, so I don't think readers will benefit anything else if I enlarge this paragraph with... you know what. Novice? Check Oliver's Bio at his website.

Analysis. That being said, the winds of English Classic Art Rock Society blow free over "Mother's Ruin", in which is certainly no wonder since Oliver is no nominal member, by far, of that organization. Six of the nine tracks on the disc reflect a typically English modern approach to classic Symphonic Progressive, bringing to mind the names of Arena, Landmarq and Asia amongst others, though Oliver's style of playing keyboards has much common ground with that of his father. However the opening number, Don't Come Running, reminds me more of GTR - just having a great keyboardist and using pronouncedly heavy guitar riffs (the latter peculiarity being typical of most songs). There are two more fast-paced rockers on the CD, Calling for You and I Don't Believe in Angels, with the most impressive solo sections still coming from Oliver and, to some lesser degree, guitarist Dave Mark Pearce. The construction of guitar riffs on the former refers directly to '70s Hard Rock, and Dave has succeeded in reproducing the distinctive spirit of the genre. Walk Away is the last up-tempo song with a steadily rhythmic groove. Unlike the aforementioned three however, this piece isn't notable for its effective chord changes and is basically a trivial AOR opus, full of unnecessary repetitions. There are some notorious hooks, but are these part of what we love our music for? In the Movies is essentially ballad-style Prog-Metal with inventive string arrangements and touching dramatic vocals. Besides, there are three different instrumental sections, the piano- and strings-laden finale sounding just a bit less ornate and compelling than those involving all the group's instrumentation. If You're Leaving is a plain ballad, but the delivery is so convincing and sincere that even a lyrical plot (love-affair for sure) doesn't sound annoying. Whether accidentally or not:-), the longest three songs - the title track, The Agent and Wall of Water - turn out to be the most eventful, each manifesting plenty of essential progressive features, at times in conjunction with some definitely unorthodox decisions seemingly destroying the symmetry of harmonic constructions. Just listen to how both masterfully and precisely the group accelerate their pace while following Oliver's cunning trick not long before the finale of The Agent, which though, is just one of the many gripping moments here. While not being largely instrumental in the narrow sense of the concept, each of the three contains numerous non-vocal interludes and is rich in dynamic transitions in general, now moving within the realm of vintage Art-Rock with certain hints of early Rick Wakeman, now transforming into lushly symphonic Cathedral Metal which is beyond any comparisons, now obtaining an almost chamber sound, and more. I am also much impressed with Moon Kinnaird's singing, partly because his manner reminds me of that of Damian Wilson, and I make no secret of the fact that I find Damian to be one of the very best vocalists to appear on the British progressive scene during the last fifteen years.

Conclusion. While not everything on this recording fully suits my personal vision of the development of contemporary progressive music, the taste and professionalism that run all through Oliver Wakeman's "Mother's Ruin" raise this album much higher than some of the vintage Progressive-related releases I've heard in recent years, those reviewed for this update included (King Eider's "Somateria Spectabilis" above all). I highly recommend this CD to fans of modern Art-Rock / Neo.

VM: Agst 18, 2006


Related Links:

Progrock Records
Oliver Wakeman


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