Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Days Between Stations In Extremis

One of the most cohesive and conceptually brilliant prog-rock releases in twenty five years!
Brent Black /
I am a recovering music snob. At one time labels meant everything and on occasion I would skip a release simply based on preconceived ideas. I have come to realize labels are best served on cans of soup. Prog rock, art rock, progressive techno are all equally fitting here but I would prefer to drop some all important names that find their way on to In Extremis. Rick Wakeman, Tony Levin, and of course the late Peter Banks.
While not specifically intending to make a record that catches that early Yes or Genesis vibe, the ambient feel of this cerebral wonder is hard to deny. Of course stellar performances are also turned in by Colin Moulding (XTC) and Billy Sherwood with the end results solidifying this conceptualized look at life, death and all the madness that happens between the two. Prog rock can be feast or famine with a great many artists and releases dying a self inflicted death of pretentiousness while making a harmonic statement that seems forced or contrived at best. In Extremis works so incredibly well as the thematic content is relatable, the music is accessible and the ambient and at times deceptively subtle techno feel is delightfully contemporary. We all get old, it doesn't mean your music has to and Days Between Stations would seem to have caught lighting in a bottle with this effort.
There is an irony here that the conceptual nature of this release which includes some of Peter Banks last recorded works before his death seemed to mirror the struggles Banks was facing. There is a quiet intimacy here, a harmonic road less traveled by others but yet so natural for this incredible musical collective.
Peter Banks is missed.

Tracks: No Cause or Alarm; In Utero; Visionary; Blackfoot; The Man Who Died Two Times; Waltz In E Mino; Eggshell Man; In Extremis.

Personnel: Oscar Fuentes Bills: Piano, Hammond B3, Rhodes, Mellotron, Electronic Percussion, Synthesizers; Sepand Samzadeh: Rhythm Guitar, Tar, Guitar Textures, Lap Steel Lead Guitar; Tony Levin: Double Bass, NS Upright Bass, Funk Fingers, Bass; Billy Sherwood: Drums, Vocals, Backing Vocals; Angel City Orchestra; John Humphrey: Keyboard Effects, Textures; Chris Tedesco: Trumpet; Angel City Brass; Colin Moulding: Lead Vocals;Angel City String Quartet; Peter Banks: Guitar Textures, Rhythm Guitar; Ali Nour: Tar Solo; Rick Wakeman: Mellotron Flute, Minimoog Solo; Jeffrey Samzadeh: Sonati Vocals; Barbarshop Quartet - Pay Claypool, Matt Gray, Eric Orr, David Rakita.