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lunes, 8 de mayo de 2017

ESP - Invisible Din (2016)


Un proyecto donde participa un ejército de músicos tremendos, liderados por el multiinstrumentista Tony Lowe (Julian Lennon, Roger Daltry, Simon Townsend, David Cross, Robert Fripp y muchos otros) y el baterista Mark Brzezicki (ex Procol Harum, Big Country, Phil Collins, Sting, The Cult y otros), reuniendo a bestias como el monstruoso genio David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator), David Cross (King Crimson), Phil Spalding (Elton John, Mike Oldfield), Steve Gee (Landmarq, John Wetton), John Young (Asia, Fish, Paul Rodgers), John Beagley (Simon Collins, Tom Kraus), Yumi Hara (Deavid Allen, Chris Cutler) y algunos otros que no se quedan atrás, por lo que no se deben tomar a la ligera este reparto estelar para un disco conceptual brillante y sorprendentemente accesible, un viaje épico que abarca mucho estilos, texturas y variantes. Ojo con lo que presentamos ahora... luego de esta presentación imagino que querrán saber más de esto, y sino se pierden un trabajo fuera de serie.

Artista: ESP
Álbum: Invisible Din
Año: 2016
Género: Crossover Prog
Duración: 66:12
Nacionalidad: Multinacional


Lista de Temas:
01. Overture
02. Through the Dream
03. Uninvited Guest
04. Song From a Waking Dream
05. Where Is My Home
06. Searching the Banks For a Memory
07. Waiting For the Rush
08. Riding the Thermal
09. Quiet Days
10. Invisible Din
11. Almost Seen

Alineación:
- Tony Lowe / guitars, keyboards, voices (1, 6, 7, 9), bass (1a, 2a, 5, 6, 9, 11b)
- Mark Brzezicki / drums, voices (2, 3)
Collaborators;
David Cross / violin (10, 11)
David Jackson / saxophones, flutes (1, 2, 3, 6, 9)
Phil Spalding / bass (1c, 10, 11)
Steve Gee / bass (2b, 3, 7, 8)
John Beagley / voices (1, 5, 6, 9, 11)
John Young / keyboards (8)
Alison Fleming / backing voices (2-11)
Yumi Hara / electric harp (6)
Pat Orchard / acoustic guitar (11)






Muchas cosas se pueden decir de este disco, que es muy variado, sumamente entretenido, que tiene pasajes instrumentales enormes (con los vientos fenomenales de Jackson al extremo), pero también mucha melodía y dulzura en sus gloriosos 70 minutos, en este mundo conviven perfectamente muchos sonidos, reminiscencias de Pink Floyd, los sonidos enigmáticos del violín de Cross, el vertiginoso toque jazzero de Jackson, ecos del Genesis temprano, King Crimson y Yes, pero también sonidos modernos, bastante jazz rock, secciones hard rockeras muy potentes, todo muy fresco, acá todo fluye y nada es forzado, la temática del disco lleva todo hacia donde tiene que ser. Al tema no lo entendí muy bien, trata sobre la enfermedad terminar del protagonista de la obra y todo lo que pone en marcha para enfrentarla y sumergirse en su curación, pero lo más interesante de la lírica es que va guiando todo el resto de la música que se acopla a ella y le da forma y sentimiento.




Aquí, como habrán podido apreciar en los videos, hay mucha musicalidad, una genialidad desbordante, hay emoción, hay muchísima imaginación y unos músicos tremendos que brindan los pilares a esta obra maravillosa, quizás uno de los discos más ambiciosos del año 2016...




Y aquí, por si interesa a alguien, como si todo lo dicho y los videos no alcanzaran, dejo algunos comentarios en inglés. Me llamó la atención la poca repercusión que tuvo este disco, los pocos comentarios, por lo que seguramente es un proyecto independiente, pero sea como sea, en el blog cabezón lo ponemos en el lugar que se merece, porque definitivamente esta es una gran obra como para no dejar de lado...

Tony Lowe and Mark Brzezicki’s collaborative project, ESP, may have finally captured the spirit and sound of the music that I, and many others of my generation, grew up with. Their new album Invisible Din, set for release in November, is a wonderland of sounds that will take you back to a different era.
Multi-instrumentalist Lowe has previously worked with such creative talents as Julian Lennon, Roger Daltry, Simon Townsend, The Pet Shop Boys and Julien Clerc, to name a few, as well as producing many projects including Bram Stoker, David Cross & Robert Fripp and John Foxx. Brzezicki is best known as the drummer for Big Country, but he has also worked with Phil Collins, Sting, Procol Harum, The Cult and Ultravox’s Midge Ure.
With their vast experiences and the friendships these two musical creators have developed over the years, the outcome of any new collaboration is expected to be stellar. However, they have brought in additional talents to kick the quality of this masterpiece up several notches with guest performances from the likes of David Cross (ex-King Crimson), David Jackson (ex-Van der Graaf Generator), Phil Spalding (Elton John, Mike Oldfield), Steve Gee (Landmarq, John Wetton), John Young (Asia, Fish, Paul Rodgers), John Beagley (Simon Collins, Tom Kraus), Yumi Hara (Daevid Allen, Chris Cutler), Pat Orchard and long-time Tony Lowe associate Alison Fleming who provides some enchanting vocals.
The cover image was created by Gerd Altmann with design and layout by Cheryl Stringall, the inside panel adapted from original artwork by Mark Brzezicki. The intricate story and lyrics were written by Tony Lowe and Alison Fleming, and this is how Lowe describes the concept: “The songs evoke a man’s childhood memory of illness and a ghostly, healing presence of beauty as he ventures into the realms of the astral world. The music and lyrics encompass the yearning we have for that elusive other, the dream partner, crossing the line between reality and fantasy as he ventures into the unknown.”
Invisible Din kicks off, as all good prog concept albums should, with an Overture of soaring guitars punctuated by Tony Banks–like keyboards and piano with drum rolls and bass. The use of saxophone is truly remarkable – thank you David Jackson – as it sets the music in motion, the soundscape building to a momentous torrent as these multi-talented instrumentalists reignite your passion for progressive music. As the crescendo slows, Lowe’s first vocal:
“I keep waking up – in someone else’s life
Just don’t know where I am half the time
Am I lost inside a dream I can’t control?
Or sent from heaven – Just for me.”
His voice is a good blend of Phil Collins and Roger Waters, with strings and flute adding depth and dimension to immediately reunite you with the music of your past in a way that most neo prog bands cannot re-create.
Through the Dream is another stand-out on an almost ‘greatest hits’ level recording. Imagine Roger Waters singing Trick of the Tail or Wind and Wuthering; the song that comes to mind most from that era being Evidence of Autumn. Mark Brzezicki sings this one and his vocals will definitely take you back, as will Lowe’s keyboards and guitar which together create magical sounds that capture the feelings and emotions of the past without replicating them. Then, as if from a dream, Jackson’s saxophone solo takes the emotion even deeper. Steve Gee’s bass rumbles in perfectly like Chris Squire’s and the musicianship on this track is overwhelming. Only two songs in and you know you’ve been lucky to hear something this brilliant.
Uninvited Guest opens slowly with sleepy, ‘fog rising from the lake’ guitars before Brzezicki’s drums set the pace as he sings “I remember the day when you became just a ghost in my head”. Carried Away is the best instrumental section within this song, opening with those instantly recognisable Mellotron notes and flute which lifts proceedings like Peter Gabriel’s used to with Genesis. The magic is back – additional flute, spirited drums and electric guitars filling the soundscape.
Song from a Waking Dream is as good as the title suggests, but unfortunately it only last a little over a minute and a half with beautiful piano and mysterious dream-like background effects with Alison Fleming’s ghostly voice. The perfect interlude. Where is my Home, featuring John Beagley’s vocals which are also similar to Roger Waters, is one of the heaviest songs here with powerful electric guitar until the Right Angled instrumental section picks up Mellotron and Hackett–like lead.
Searching the Banks for a Memory is by a long shot the best song on the album. It opens with birdsong and sounds of waves and surf, Yumi Hara’s electric harp a beautiful mood setter as Lowe’s piano and Jackson’s flutes take you away to a perfect memory dreamscape. Beagley’s vocals fit well with the Genesis–like harmonies which spill out during this masterpiece, Alison Fleming’s ghostly voice echoing in the distance. I just wish for this song to never end, it may be my favourite of this year.
Caught in the Streaming opens with loud sax and keyboards to disturb the tranquil beauty we were experiencing on the previous track, but it fits the storyline. Thankfully Jackson’s flute and the keyboards take us back to calm before the song ends. Lowe’s Hackett–like guitar and the background effects create that Wind and Wuthering sound again before the reintroduction of saxophone. The Hackett sound continues with dreamy keyboards in Waiting for the Rush, sung by Lowe in Waters’ tones, then Riding the Thermal is primarily an electric guitar instrumental with John Young’s unique keyboard notes adding dimension.
Quiet Days brings Lowe’s vocals, lead guitar, piano and keyboards with Jackson’s saxophone and flute adding volumes to the sound. The title track is another brilliant piano filled instrumental with David Cross’ violin and Alison Fleming’s echoing voice. The pace picks up with some excellent keyboards and fantastic drumming from Brzezicki, with violin returning on closer Almost Seen where Pat Orchard’s acoustic guitar adds much to one of his original compositions, Beagley singing supported by the wonderful keyboard sounds that Lowe has been creating throughout the album;
“I will not become lost.
I follow the river like a lens,
As it bends all along to the sea.
Follow me. I am free.
I am free!”
Then the perfect closing lines;
“These many lives we live are one. Just as sure as the light behind the sun. Follow me there.”
Invisible Din is an excellent album, the kind that the leaders of prog used to make, fashioned over hours of careful and thorough practice. I have been waiting for an album like this for a long time. Yes, it probably will be on my top ten album list come the end of 2016. Right now, the Cloud Distortion part of Searching the Banks for a Memory is my favourite song of the year.
Get this album and experience music made by consummate professionals, the way it used to be.
Professor Mark


ESP is an interesting collaboration as it features producer/guitarist Tony Lowe and Big Country drummer Mark Brzezicki, the latter maybe not someone you’d associate with progressive rock. Tony Lowe composed all the music and Alison Fleming co-wrote the lyrics with him. There are some notable guests including Lifesign’s John Young, David Cross (ex-King Crimson), Phil Spalding (Elton John/GTR/Mike Oldfield) and Steve Gee (Landmarq).
The album’s story is based around a man’s memories of his childhood illness and a ghostly, healing presence as he ventures into an astral world (Alison Fleming provides the voice of the Ghost throughout the album).
Pink Floyd is the one band that kept coming to mind when listening to this album, from the Floyd-esque musical arrangements on ‘Overture’ and then the Gilmour approved solos on ‘Through The Dream’. The sax and flute playing of David Jackson (ex-Van Der Graaf Generator) weave in and out of the songs he appears on, none more so than on ‘Overture’. Adding this to the musical mix gives it another dimension and works well within the album’s overall sound.
Little bit of jazz/prog on ‘Quiet Days’, not my personal cup of musical tea, however the musicianship is again top notch. Camel (‘Nude’ onwards) would be another musical reference point, as ESP – like Camel – pay lots of attention to the musical detail on each song they create.
The symphonic/big sound created make this album one that will stand up to repeated plays. Interesting listen and it certainly grabs the listener’s attention taking them on a marvelous musical journey.
Jason Ritchie


And the award for the most ambitious album of 2016 goes to….
Pay attention, we may ask questions at the end.
Here goes, ESP, is the new project from Tony Lowe and Mark Brzezicki. If the latter, the Big Country drummer who has also worked with The Cult and Sting amongst others, is probably the most familiar, then its Lowe’s back catalogue that is particularly crucial and pertinent here too. He is a producer to the stars (Robert Fripp, Toyah, Bram Stoker and just about anyone who wants to make a prog record), as well as working with the likes of Julian Lennon and Roger Daltrey.
As such, when the two decided to get together and record a Prog Rock album they were able to call on a stellar cast including David Cross – the ex King Crimson violinist who himself released such a magnificent solo album this year and the incredible on so many levels Van Der Graaf Generator saxophone and flute blower David Jackson and many more (frankly the list of guests here might take up the whole review).
Got all that? Good. Cos that’s the easy bit.
Here’s where it gets complicated. “Invisible Din” is a concept record about a man called Emlyn thinking back to a childhood memory of an illness that was cured by an out of body experience involving a ghostly presence, and how it relates to his life now – his sense of yearning, his search for a partner and many other things.
Still with us?
Actually it doesn’t matter whether you understand the concept or not, because “Invisible Din” is quite brilliant, and surprisingly accessible.
The playing is quite wonderful, and the songs are epic journey’s often encompassing two or three parts, and many with huge instrumental passages – and the phenomenal Saxophone of Jackson at the end of “Through The Dream” is worth buying this record for alone – but all with the idea that this should be enjoyed not endured and there is nothing remotely “challenging” (always a dread word) about this quite glorious 70 minutes.
It is best listened to as a whole piece, but if you don’t have 70 minutes spare then dive into the Floyd-like world of “Uninvited Guest” immediately, its lush, classy soundscape is one which you won’t want to leave. “Where Is My Home” on the other hand is short and to the point, but the absolute highlight here is the record’s centrepiece, “Searching The Banks For A Memory” which has echoes of early Genesis, King Crimson and Yes, but still manages entirely out on its own and fresh.
“Waiting For The Rush” is perhaps the biggest left turn on offer, with its stark electro beats and pulsing rhythm, beautifully balanced by Lowe’s guitar and gentle voice, while “Quiet Days” is a huge evocative undertaking, but one which is pulled off with an ease that only those of consummate skill could muster.
The title track itself is an instrumental affair, with lilting pianos and strings giving the thing a classical feel at the start, before it moves into more traditional Prog hinterland, and by the time it ends with the uplifting “Almost Seen” which builds to a mighty crescendo, you are left with the feeling that you are not quite sure what happened, but you are absolutely glad it did.
It takes some real imagination to even come up with this idea, but to pull it off in the way that ESP have done is truly a wonder to behold.
Rating 9/10
Andy Thorley





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