[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
TRACK LIST: 1. Circus of the Absurd 7:57 2. Ghosts of Years 6:01 3. Believe Me Now 4:52 4. Building a Perfect Universe-I 4:45 5. Building a Perfect Universe-II 5:03 6. Song of the Albatross 7:02 7. Black Sun 7:14 Bonus track: 8. Reborn 6:21 All tracks: by Wells, except 8: Drake & Wells. LINE-UP: Andy Wells - vocals; fretted & fretless basses, guitars; keyboards Tony Drake - lead electric & acoustic guitars Kev Mulvhill - drums & percussion With: Mike Syslo - fretted bass (on 7 & 8) Oliver Drake - fretless bass (2) Emma Parsons - keyboards (8) Produced & engineered by Wells. Recorded at "Hideaway", Yorkshire.
Prolusion. The UK band PILGRYM was formed only about a year ago, and yet, it seems they have managed to make everything necessary to release a full-length album in such a short amount of time.
Synopsis. It's quite strange and regretful, but unlike many other countries, the homeland of Progressive is rarely gladdening us with fresh, high-quality production so typical of the genre today. "Pilgrimage" is another confirmation of the fact that the new generation of the workers of progressive labor in the UK tends to bright and accessible forms of Symphonic Art-Rock, often bordering an ordinary AOR. Even the most ambitious and interesting compositions here sound like they're excessively polished. These are the songs Circus of the Absurd, Building a Perfect Universe-II, and Black Sun (1, 5 & 7). The second of them features very few vocals and no lyrics as such, and the latter is the only track on the album where all the arrangements: the vocal-based and purely instrumental ones are really well balanced and form a united whole. These two almost completely correspond to my conception of full-fledged Symphonic Progressive. As well as Black Sun, the opening track features good thoughtful lyrics, but unfortunately, there is nothing absurd, abstract, and even extraordinary in the music. Being distinctly dramatic in character, just like both of the winners, the song is notable for more accessible, but still original and tasteful instrumental arrangements, especially those going autonomously on its second half. However, the parts of vocal represent a banal combination of recurrent couplets and refrains. It's obvious that the band's first attempt to build a Perfect Universe (4) was unsuccessful. This is a strange beast indeed: two little islands of accessible Art-Rock in the emptiness of space with some embryos of interstellar chaos and related random synthesizer effects. The 7-minute instrumental piece Song of the Albatross (6) consists of slow and rather monotonous arrangements that only with great reserve can be regarded as Symphonic Art-Rock. The remaining two tracks have nothing to do with Progressive at all. The ballad Ghosts of Years and the up-tempo, flashily optimistic Believe Me Now (2 & 3) are both about a pure (read poor) AOR / Pop Rock and are just incredibly monotonous and featureless. One of the two bonus tracks: Reborn (8), performed live, is musically somewhere between the first two tracks. What's noteworthy is that it features a different lead vocalist who possesses a really remarkable voice and sings much better than Andy Wells. I don't know whether it is still Kev Mulvhill behind the 'drumming part' of the rhythm section there (if so, he just isn't able to play outside the precincts of a studio) or the other drummer. In any case the drumming is more than amateurish, although drums have a very mechanical sound. I believe you don't need a description of the other bonus track, as it's just the so-called remix of one of the previous songs.
Conclusion. Well, a couple of progressive compositions, a couple of pop songs, and the rest are between hay and grass. No, I wouldn't say that "Pilgrimage" is a prematurely born album, and the band just didn't orient in which direction they were going. With presenting such disparate materials, they try to kill two birds with one stone, which, however, doesn't work within the framework of Progressive and that of mainstream alike. In its entirety, the album won't satisfy anyone in general. In any case, I think that even those who are in the 'neo' stage of listening maturity or in the childish age of their pilgrimage will find most of it pretty boring.
VM: May 7, 2004
[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]