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(54:34 / GEP Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Toxicana Apocalypso 5:08 2. Wayward 5:50 3. Crossfire 4:43 4. Roundabout 4:24 5. Hounded 7:13 6. All the Wisemen 5:19 7. Great Ordeal 3:08 8. 6am Your Time 2:47 9. Solace 2:33 10. The White Dove Song 5:59 11. Sandheads 7:29 LINEUP: Steve Thorne - vocals; guitars, bass; keyboards Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) - drums Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard) - drums Tony Levin (King Crimson) - bass Pete Trewavas (Marillion) - bass Geoff Downes (Asia) - keyboards Martin Orford (IQ) - keyboards John Mitchell (Arena) - guitars
Prolusion. "Part Two: Emotional Creations", the new offering from English multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Steve THORNE, is a successor to his debut CD, "Emotional Creations: Part One" (2005), both the albums being played by an all-star lineup of guest musicians. Since the release of his first outing Steve has toured extensively in the UK and Europe, mainly as an opening act for such living legends as IQ and Pendragon, as well as some other, less major units of the contemporary progressive scene.
Analysis. Overall, the only album that I can bravely compare this one to is its predecessor, though apart from those to, well, Steve himself and Marillion, this time around some comparisons to Pink Floyd can also be applied. The echoes of "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" (think Learning to Fly and Dogs of War) are heard almost throughout the song Wayward, due to the specificity of its arrangement and the construction of most of the guitar riffs and solos present as well. Of the two short instrumentals, Solace and 6 a.m. Your Time (the first of which represents synthesizer space music, the latter a fully-fledged space-rock piece), none arouses direct associations, but nevertheless both would well blend with any of the post-Waters Pink Floyd albums, as also would the atmospheric ballad Roundabout, meaning on its instrumental angle. Indeed, Steve's singing is unique as ever, regardless of the songs' overall appearance, his pure deep tone still grabbing me right away. The lyrics are insightful and are always poetic, those having a kind of leftwing feeling included. Now, I'd like to touch on the only one track that leaves me absolutely cold, namely Great Ordeal. While featuring no drums, this Beatles-inspired tune is rhythmically pronounced; furthermore it's totally vocals-based and is quite repetitive in nature. The remaining six pieces all combine Mr. Thorne's own musical discoveries and those by Marillion, although the influence is never striking, at times being barely perceptible. The two concluding numbers, The White Dove Song and Sandheads, are both the richest in sound and string arrangements as well, since these involve a guest violin quartet. At times powerful and intense, and then later serene and slow, and so on, both however retain a hymn-like sense throughout each of their vocal sections (often bringing to mind The White Flag from "Misplaced Childhood", as also does Toxicana Apocalypso, even though this is an instrumental piece). There are some really majestic keyboard and guitar solos to be on found on each of those, but nonetheless I am most of all pleased with the remaining three tracks, All the Wisemen, Crossfire and Hounded, no matter that the first two of them are for the most part ballad-like in character, each being somewhat reminiscent of the title track of "Afraid of Sunlight". No, I am wrong about Crossfire: there are enough dramatic transitions to consider it to be something weightier than a ballad, besides which two of its instrumental interludes are just brilliant, both revealing a full-band sound where, surprisingly, a key role is played by the acoustic guitar. In any event, this is a well-constructed, truly progressive creation, performed at the very high level. Nevertheless, the progressively coolest:-) arrangements are to be found on Hounded, which is a largely instrumental creation somewhere in the style of "Brave", delivering probably everything a true-and-tried progressive heart desires.
Conclusion. I still haven't arrived at a conclusion whether "Part Two: Emotional Creations" is stronger than Steve Thorne's debut effort, but there are less conventional features on this recording, that's for sure. Anyhow since it's still melody, rather than evolution, which is the goal in most cases here too, I can highly recommend this CD only to those into accessible Symphonic Progressive again, though on the other hand I feel satisfied by having every right:-) to make one reservation: this is not 'your typical' neo creation, by far.
VM: Agst 28, 2007
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