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(54:56; Stone Angel Syndrome)
This album was released in 2018 but has only just come to my attention when Kevin Burlison kindly sent it to me. Stone Angel Syndrome are Kevin (keyboards, synthesisers, piano, harpsichord and Hammered Dulcimer) and Dave Blackburn (guitars) along with Martyn Leckenby (bass), Andy Plemper (sitar) and Chris Davison who provides vocals on one song. In many ways this is more than just a music album, as Kevin became disabled some years ago and this became yet another challenge for him to overcome and it ended up taking more than six years as there were times when he was just unable to play. He details all this inside the booklet, where he says it will never be performed live and he doubts if there will ever be a follow-up. Before we move onto the music itself, I should mention the proceeds from each album are donated to the Christie Cancer Hospital, Manchester, where Kevin’s daughter has received treatment. So that is the back story, but what about the music? Let’s get the pet annoyance out of the way first, in that here we have programmed drums as opposed to a sweaty person, but given the style of the music it isn’t actually as bad as so often can be the case. Right, style, what can be said about that? The fascinating thing about this album, which is I am sure due in no small part to the length of time it took to record, is that there are many different influences coming through with songs often being quite different to each other. It is described by the guys as “progressive with moments of heaviness, ambient elements and gentle, emotional soundscapes fused with electronic drums”. Putting it another way, it has the soundscapes of Tangerine Dream, combined with delicate piano and warm fretless bass which somehow also links in with early King Crimson. It can be calm and gentle, and there are other times when it is more frenetic, and one is never really sure in which direction the music is going to take the listener. Jean Michel Jarre is another influence, but while it is often very keyboard-based those guitars have an incredibly important part to play, and at times it is that they are not playing at all which creates the necessary mood. “Trans-Lunar Express” is the one that really works for me, more than ten minutes of journey through the cosmos, with delicate arrangements which have been carefully thought through, so there is an emotional reaction to the music. There may be very few words on the album, just one song out of six containing vocals, but it is incredibly emotional and personal. This is the type of album which really benefits from being played on headphones when the listener has the time to pay attention and do just that. I do hope we hear more from Stone Angel Syndrome in the future, but if this is the only contribution they ever make to the genre, it is a fine one indeed and one I enjoyed playing.
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