Metaphor — The Sparrow
(TropeAUDIO TA 045, 2007, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2008-01-01Acclaimed US prog act Metaphor’s third album is finally out after two-plus years of refinement, and the finished result is well worth the wait. I was lucky enough to receive a group of rough demos from keyboardist Marc Spooner at NEARfest 2006 as kind of an inside look at their challenging work in progress. Unlike Camel with Snow Goose, the band chose to carefully adapt the subject matter of noted writer Mary Doria Russell’s sci-fi epic with her permission. The resulting album is a well-crafted balance of lyrical and instrumental dexterity. Vocalist John Mabry has come into his own across the disc giving some of his best delivery on pieces such as the contrapuntal “Deus Vult,” “Stella Maris,” and the anthem “God Will Break Your Heart.” The key themes of religious conversion, space migration and cosmic awareness are well covered in the former two pieces while the latter track serves as Mabry’s most convincing ballad. Foxtrot-era Genesis influences are more diluted on this recording with early Gentle Giant like passages appearing in a few tracks. The band can credibly rock it up like their SF bay area contemporaries Puppet Show (“Starfooted”) (despite the odd meter and Mellotron) or push a weird Yes-like modal passage on “We Are Many and They Are Few.” Overall the group has easily transcended their earlier efforts and put their best foot forward, shaping their own identity on the small but loyal progressive scene.
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
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
Legendary Pink Dots - Your Children Placate You from Premature Graves – 2006 marks the 25th year of this band's existence, and this CD marks some ridiculous number of releases I won’t even speculate about. This venture finds them in a fairly calm mood, and is... (2007) » Read more