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(73:59, Galileo & Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Suddenly The Rain 14:43 2. Tardigrade 3:41 3. The Chosen One 5:32 4. Moon Mountain 2:32 5. As The River Runs 10:35 6. Your Future 0:26 7. Strawberry Jam 2:38 8. Circles End 6:21 9. Brother Where You Bound 26:48 10. Beautiful New Day 0:43 LINEUP: Daniel Faldt - vocals Stefan Renstrom – bass; keyboards Jonas Hallberg – guitars; percussion Mattias Jarlhed – drums, percussion; b/v Magnus Paulsson - keyboards
Prolusion. SIMON SAYS is a band currently based in Gothenburg, Sweden. They started out as a project back in 1994, and had a long and turbulent history on the road from project to band. In 2002 the group more or less stabilized, and have had few line-up changes after that time. The concept album "Tardigrade" is their third release overall, and their second as a more or less stable outfit.
Analysis. Simon Says is one of many bands exploring a style of music referred to as symphonic rock, and their take on the genre, at least on this album, is of the classic type. Listening through the recording, it is obvious that Genesis is a major influence, especially when it comes to the construction and execution of instrumental segments where keyboards and guitars alternate as well as harmonize in tight interplay. One other obvious influence to name is Camel; there are several atmospheric guitar workouts to enjoy that are very similar in style and manner to this classic band. In addition to that, the extensive use of what sounds very much like the Hammond organ is a key feature in the soundscapes, but there's no obvious influence to name for this aspect of the music made. It does enhance the feeling of a band looking back to the 1970's for musical inspiration, though. Although there are ten tracks on this CD, a mere three tunes make up the main part of this album, the opening song Suddenly the Rain, the fifth track As the River Run and the ninth track Brother Where You Bound (do you remember Supertramp’s disc of the same name?). These three compositions clock in at slightly above 50 minutes in total, and they are all compositions highly similar in form, manner and style. The songs all contain multiple parts, ranging from calm and mellow segments dominated by various keyboards to parts closer to hard rock in style, where guitar riff patterns and the Hammond organ rock it out in a tight and slick interplay. All the tunes contain longer instrumental parts, most of them of a highly symphonic nature. Many of these segments are close to Genesis in style and execution, while others may remind the listener almost just as much of The Flower Kings in style, although not in mood and atmosphere. Synths and keyboards are essential instruments throughout these compositions, and often there will be multiple layers of these to simultaneously convey the main melody, to flesh out the soundscapes and create epic sounding majestic sonic textures in some segments, as well as providing detailed, lush and fragile atmospheres in other parts. The remaining seven compositions on "Tardigrade" add a bit of variation to this release. Some of these tunes are similar in style and sound to the longer epics, while others - the title track in particular - add influences from jazz as well as late 60's hard rock. The musicianship on this release is excellent. These guys know what they want to do, what they want it to sound like and what they have to do to achieve this. The musicians may not be world class, but the skill level is more than good enough to perform these compositions with relative ease. The compositions are not quite on the same level as the musicianship though. In a style as heavily explored as symphonic rock it takes quite a lot to produce songs of such a stellar quality that they will be regarded as truly brilliant. And although close, Simon Says aren't quite there yet.
Conclusion. Fans of 70's symphonic rock in general and Genesis in particular might receive a lot of pleasure from this release. People with a soft spot for the Hammond organ should also consider checking this one out, as there are quite a few goodies for that particular crowd on this album.
OMB & VM: June 21, 2008
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