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Rick Miller - 2013 - "Immortal Remains"

(46:15, MALS Records)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:

1.  Rats in My Darkness 3:00
2.  Ode to an Angel 9:20
3.  Like a Drug 5:12
4.  The Hands of Time 10:19
5.  The Oasis 2:45
6.  Sanctity 4:53
7.  Providence 5:23
8.  My Atom Heart 2:21
9.  Unnamed 3:02 (b/t)

LINEUP:

Rick Miller  vocals; various instruments
Mateusz Swoboda  cello 
Kane Miller  guitars; violin
Barry Haggarty  guitars 
Sarah Young  flute 
Will  drums 

Prolusion. Canadian composer and musician Rick MILLER has a career in music that stretches back to the early 80's, specializing in ambient, new age tinged music back then. From 2003 and onwards he started to explore the progressive rock universe, and has released eight full length albums of this kind since then. "Immortal Remains" is the most recent of these, and was issued by the Russian label MALS Records in 2013.

Analysis. Rick Miller has steadily solidified a certain sound and mood on his progressive rock oriented albums, gradually developing his style to a greater level of perfection. At least that is my impression, that Miller slowly but surely has managed to fine tune his compositions to have and maintain a steady, high quality. His compositions tend to be dark in mood and atmosphere. Usually not in a threatening or ominous manner, but a subtle, smooth and calming atmosphere of darkness, reassuring in a way. Occasionally he will flavor the landscapes he explores with textures, effects and sounds that add a more tension-inducing and haunting character to the proceedings, expertly executed on Rats in My Darkness, but the general mood without effects is a calm one. Miller's lead vocals are a key element within this context. Dark but calm, rarely if ever utilizing a dramatic vocal delivery. Combined with careful rhythms, acoustic guitar, occasional riffs to emphasize the mood and layered keyboard textures on top the arrangements are subtle, harmonic and generally fairly smooth. And of a kind that does inspire associations towards the more accessible part of Pink Floyd's back catalog, especially when atmospheric guitar solo details reminding of David Gilmour are applied. Careful effects can instill a more unnerving atmosphere, as noted, but moods of a more delicate nature have their place as well. Keyboards and cello are key ingredients for the former, the flute for the latter, and the violin has its part to play to emphasize both of these subtle extremes to Miller's compositions. A good example of Miller's more fragile material on this disc is Providence, one of the rare occurrences where he takes on a lighter toned, more melancholic oriented mood. Otherwise "Immortal Remains" is an accomplished production that moves between calm, almost ambient oriented atmospheres to the aforementioned light toned and melancholic. A touch of electronic, Tangerine Dream-style, music has been incorporated as well on the epic length feature The Hands of Time, nicely flavoring a few select passages with somewhat unexpected details. Some nice percussion details also enhance the experience for the avid listener, with The Oasis as a prime example of that. Those who purchase the CD edition of this production are given two additional tracks to enjoy. Both of them are short compositions, closer to singer/songwriter or Americana in style and execution. Well-made compositions both of them, but rather different in style when compared to the other compositions at hand. Miller might want to explore that side of his creative skills further however, as I suspect that he'd go down very well indeed with those who prefer listening to that particular kind of music.

Conclusion. Rick Miller appears to have developed his particular take of progressive rock one step closer to perfection on "Immortal Remains". Careful, subtle and dark music, with a likely foundation in late 70's Pink Floyd of the more accessible kind, where he conjures dark and reassuring moods on one hand and more unnerving ones on the other. Smooth in execution, and without any dramatic effects as such, an album to seek out by those who prefer music made and performed with a gentle, delicate touch.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 15, 2013
The Rating Room


Related Links:

MALS Records
Rick Miller


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