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(67:29, Little Pond Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Reigning Fire 4:20 2. Away 5:27 3. In the Bed 4:40 4. My Love 6:45 5. We Can Do It 7:03 6. Seek 6:44 7. Dama-Dama 8:44 8. Dollhouse 6:07 9. Closer to Home 7:49 10. Vcerejsi Noc 4:39 11. Reigning Fire 4:23 12. My Love 6:45 13. Away 5:28 LINEUP: Jana Hurdesova – vocals R. Scott Allen – keyboards Tim Rogers – bass; backing vocals Scott Hume – drums; backing vocals Michael Ferguson – guitars; backing vocals
Prolusion. The US band VOODOO MONKEY CHILD was formed by composer and keyboardist R. Scott Allen back in 1990, and has been an active unit ever since, sporting a large variety of different lineups. Their first production "A Taste if Afterlife" saw the light of day in 1998. Several band member alterations took place in the following years, but in 2007 the band stabilized and in 2009 its second production "Under a Crescent Moon" was released by the local Illinois label Little Pond Records.
Analysis. I first came across this band a few months ago, when writing down my impressions of an EP featuring radio mixes from this album that for some reason or other had found its way onto my stack of CDs to be reviewed. Not too enthralled by that production, I was pleasantly surprised when the band contacted me and asked if I would care to receive and write about the full-length effort these radio mixes had been compiled from. And while my thoughts may not cause a revolution regarding interest in this act, I for one am grateful for the opportunity to get to know this CD in a better way than the aforementioned EP indicated. The band themselves describe their music as progressive rock. Personally I don't fully subscribe to that notion, and while defining this rather loose and varied genre as a subject, on which music nerds have yet to conclusively decide upon, I'd think that sophisticated soft rock is a better description of the sound explored on this particular production – with a few details pulled from the legacy of 70's art rock artists for sure. The lead vocals of Jana Hurdesova are the main feature here. She has a strong and distinct voice and, as far as I can tell, a perfect delivery, able to convey fragile emotional moods as well as raw passionate feelings with relative ease. Her approach is one of controlled delivery, opting for subtle details rather than untamed wildness. And her talents are best utilized in those tracks with less of an emphasis on sophisticated elements on this occasion, with the symphonic ballad My Love and the following soft rock piece We Can Do It as the most brilliant examples of how much life and energy her voice can add to any given track. The opening three efforts are well-developed efforts too, but not quite as enthralling. The second part of this disc, starting with Seek and ending with Closer to Home, consist of longer compositions with an arguably closer relationship to the symphonic parts of the art rock universe. And while pleasant enough in their own right, I didn't really find any of these tracks making any great impression. For some strange reason, expanding the compositional canvas utilized doesn't lead to creations in which the vocalist and instrumentalists manage to make the most of that freedom. Pleasant efforts by all means, but never truly striking a responsive chord with me aside from minor details and individual themes only, the brilliant initial chorus sequence of Dollhouse the most interesting of these. The final four songs, actually included on a CD of their own, are Czech-language versions of selected album tracks. A nice bonus addition in particular for whatever fan base they may have in the Czech Republic.
Conclusion. While perhaps not what most would describe as progressive rock, Voodoo Monkey Child has crafted an altogether enjoyable and charming album with "Under a Crescent Moon". Sophisticated soft rock featuring some nifty details from the symphonic parts of the art rock universe, this is a CD that I'd suspect quite a few progressive rock fans will enjoy, those fond of the less intricate and more atmospheric varieties of symphonic art rock in particular.
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