Magenta — Metamorphosis
(Laser's Edge LE1052, 2008, CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-10-01
Magenta have all the right things going for them: talented musicians, good label support, a loyal fan base, and an intelligent approach to surviving as a prog band. They’ve carved out a niche for themselves with a modern symphonic sound that stays abreast of current trends without aping successful groups of the present or past. I was curious to see what road they would take following 2006’s Home / New York Suite releases. Would mastermind Rob Reed pursue the song-oriented narrative approach seen on Home, or would he return to the traditional prog rock of New York Suite? Or would he detour toward the kind of ultra-modern art-pop seen on his side project Chimpan-A? The answer is all of the above, though if anything Metamorphosis reminds me most of Home, even if two of the songs clock in at over 20 minutes. The lyrics, penned again by Reed’s brother Steve, reach for a more gritty realism than the band’s early fantastical opuses, and singer Christina Booth sounds better than ever (within her relatively narrow stylistic range.) Reed’s keyboards and guitars are the foundational glue that binds everything together with his synths and Chris Fry’s guitar work lighting an occasional fire under the material. I won’t say that Metamorphosis is a great album – there’s too little in the writing department that really sticks for me -- though I know there’s a healthy constituency for Magenta’s brand of prog and I have a feeling they’ll be pleased.
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.