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TRACK LIST: 1. Why Did I Know 2:44 2. Death of the Swineherd 5:12 3. Ripples in the Pond 5:27 4. Out of the Mist of Obscurity 8:39 5. Trying Too Hard 4:10 6. Reflection 3:07 7. Demons & Men 4:55 8. The Eyes of God 4:15 9. Waiting 3:35 10. Under a Spell 3:37 11. A Willing Servant 4:51 All music: by Ray, except 4 & 8: by Ray, Schultz, Wood, & Glorioso. All lyrics: by Ray, except 1, 3, 5, & 6: by Noch. LINE-UP: Rick Ray - guitars; keyboards; vocals Rick Schultz - clarinets & saxophone Gary Wood - bass Sam Glorioso - drums Phil Noch - vocals Produced & engineered by Rick Ray at Neurosis & Mabel's Basement.
Prolusion. "Out of the Mist of Obscurity" is the second album that guitarist and composer Rick Ray released with the Rick Ray Band. In all, Rick released more than twenty of solo and related albums. Please use the search engine on the site's title page if you wish to read the other Rick Ray-related reviews available here.
Synopsis. I've recently listened to a few of Rick's solo albums I have, including my favorite (his best, IMHO) "You People", and I can assert that most of them are more progressive and integral and, what's even more important, are much better produced than "Out of the Mist of Obscurity", the full-fledged / full-band sound of which doesn't save the situation, by the way. (Also, I can hardly tolerate the presence of two different singers on the same album, and I don't like Phil Noch's vocals, which remind me of those typical for the Afro-American jazz-bands.) Musically, this is a very motley and incoherent album where the songs differing by style and quality are absolutely unsystematically (as if randomly) intermixed among themselves. Surprisingly, the predominant stylistics of the second Rick Ray Band album turned out to be nothing else but a heavy Rock & Roll. It is presented on Why Did I Know, Waiting, the album's title track, and Under a Spell (tracks 1, 9, 4, & 10 respectively), though both of the latter songs contain also elements of guitar Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion and are excellent, unlike the first two that are just merely good. With the exception of Ripples in the Pond, to which I'll return a bit later, all the tracks featuring wind instrumentalist Rick Schultz and, thus, his solos on clarinet and saxophone, are excellent. Apart from the said Out of the Mist of Obscurity and Under a Spell, these include The Eyes of God (8), representing a very inventive guitar Art-Rock with elements of Jazz-Fusion, and Trying Too Hard (5), which is the only Classic Hard Rock song (with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock and Jazz-Fusion) on the album and is one of the best tracks here. The other most diverse and progressive songs are the aforementioned Eyes of God, and also Demons & Men (7), which is about an electrically acoustic guitar Art-Rock without any other stylistic 'makeweights'. Unfortunately, Rick Schultz participated on only about a half of the tracks here, and keyboards were more or less actively used only on Trying Too Hard. The remaining good composition is Death of the Swineherd (2), which, by the way, is the only instrumental piece on the album. I only wonder why wasn't it used as the opening track or placed side by side with Demons & Men, which, overall, is of the same stylistics. Blues Rock with elements of Jazz-Fusion, AOR, and Space Rock in the vein of Hawkwind in the 1990s are respectively the styles of Ripples in the Pond, Reflection, and A Willing Servant (3, 6, & 11), all of which are just boring, especially Reflection and the last track on the album with a 'robotic' narration instead of vocals.
Conclusion. The inclusion of those three songs in the album was in my view a gross error. Without them, it would've been a very good album, the duration of which would have been about 43 minutes, which, in its turn, would've been more than all right with anybody. "More" by no means always means "better", though.
VM: November 11, 2003
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