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Steve Howe

Skyline

Review by Gary Hill

Skyline is a different sort of album for Steve Howe. The disc shares far more with his new age type performances in conjunction with Paul Sutin than it does with any of the rest of his catalog. Don't expect to be blown away by the musical virtuosity here. While there are some definite moments of instrumental fire, they are quite subtle and will not just jump out at you. I also would be surprised to find anyone sitting to listen to this album without another activity under way. It seems to share something with the music of Enya in that, although pretty music, it is so successful in being relaxing and restful that it can lull you to sleep. This is not a bad thing, though. Indeed, after a hard stressful day, this might be the perfect album to put on as you kick back with a book or magazine.

Howe plays virtually all the sounds on the disc himself, joined only on some of the tracks by Sutin. He also contributed the photographs for this disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Small Acts of Human Kindness
This piece is one of the more potent on the disc, having some of the hardest rocking material. It features some chorale type vocals from Howe and some killer guitar soloing. It feels at limes like Yes, and during the bridge a bit like something from Alan Parsons' Pyramids album. It serves as a welcoming intro to the album.
Meridian Strings
This one is quite a pretty and sedate piece that is more textural at first. Then it takes a twist into a rather Latin texture. Several changes do ensue, taking the piece for a time in more complicated directions, but the smooth Latin feel eventually returns.
Secret Arrow
A slightly dramatic and mysterious texture starts this one with keyboard textures. As it carries on, acoustic guitar take the fore, weaving its mellow line. It gets fairly intricate and intense at times, but still in rather laid back ways.
Moon Song
This is ethereal and quite new ageish. It is nice, but a bit stagnant.
Shifting Sands
Percussion starts this one, and waves of keys begin playing over top. As the guitar enters a playful melody begins, but the tone is still quiet and gentle as it carries through. Again, this one drags a bit.
Avenue De Bel Aire
This one is a somewhat jazzy sedate acoustic guitar based jam. It is another that does not wander far from its roots.
Resonance
This is based on a textural, rhythmic background and includes some of the more intense jamming on the CD. This is one of the longer tracks on the CD and certainly one of the strongest.
The Anchor
This is another textural number that tends to be a bit staid.
Monent In Time
Although this one has its moments, and becomes quite pretty at times, it is one of the most new age oriented pieces on the album.
Simplification
This is, appropriately, a fairly simple guitar solo with keyboard accompaniment in gentle tones.
Camera Obscura
This one is definitely more from the restful vein. There is not much more to say about it as there is a certain sameness to much of this disc.
Small Acts
This is the only cut, other then opening number to include vocals. These vocals are essentially the same as the ones on that composition as this one is basically a mellower reprise of that one. The two make for good bookends.
 
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