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Transatlantic

STMPE

Review by Gary Hill and Steve Alspach

When you talk progressive rock and the term "supergroup" comes up, this band will certainly come to mind. The band is made up of Roine Stolt of Flower Kings, Pete Trewavas of Marillion, Neal Morse of Spocks Beard and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater. The music on the album has a very classic prog sound, ala the works of Yes and ELP.

Add to the wonderful music the fact that this disc has one of the best cover pics this reviewer has seen in a long time, and it makes for a great package.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
All of the Above
This cut is a 30 minute piece composed of "Full Moon Rising", "October Winds", "Camouflaged in Blue", "Half Alive", "Undying Love" and "Full Moon Reprise". Since some of the transitions between pieces are not too easy to discern, this review will cover the entire work as one track. Building ambient tones begin this movement in a manner a bit like Yes' "Close To The Edge". As hard edged, fast paced prog tones begin that CTTE sort of texture continues. It then shifts gear to a less frantic and quite triumphant sounding mode, again quite Yesish. This Yesish texture to the intro last about 3 minutes or so, then a harder edged, Dtish break takes the cut for a time. This is followed by an almost funky prog segment. As the vocals hit, the mode becomes very Spocks Beard oriented. The Beardish themes continue through this segment. Beginning with an instrumental break, again quite Yesish, this section starts evolving across all sorts of styles, including a very jazzy sort of mode which is a killer jam. A powerful prog balladic mode takes over after this jam. Following a crescendo, the movement drops back into an even more sedate, very accessible, almost pop oriented segment. This one includes some powerful vocals and a great keyboard sound. It then jumps into a very bluesy section that hints at Pink Floyd at times. This bit rocks out well. After a time, it returns to earlier themes, building on them. Then it drops to an acoustic guitar driven, emotional prog ballad type segment. The next change is a building back up into another very strong prog jam then a return to earlier Beardian themes. Very triumphant sounds bring the epic to its conclusion, before ending in another Yesish ambient mode.

We All Need Some Light
Acoustic guitar begins this song in a balladic mode, and it starts building in dramatic tones from there. This cut really feels a lot like SB, and features great uplifting lyrics:
Mystery Train
Off kilter and quirky prog tones start this cut, a bit in the mode of Gentle Giant and Pentwater. The number becomes more stripped down and funky on the verse, rather like newer Marillion with a healthy dose of The Beatles. The chorus is very accessible and Beardish. The song has a great funky and considerably quirky instrumental break with some nice timing changes.

My New World
A neo-classical sort of sedate intro drops into another Beatlesesque balladic mode. This one comes across more Flower Kingsish due to Roine's vocals. It features a great accessible chorus. The instrumental break gets quite Yesish, particularly in the guitar sounds. Those sounds really call to mind Topographic/Relayer era Howe. The cut then changes to a more sedate keyboard driven section, after which it begins building to more triumphant prog modes, then moves into more traditional prog stylings going through many varied modes. This really comes across very positive and dramatic. The number ends in a dramatic prog instrumental mode that gets quite blues rock oriented at times.

In Held (Twas) In I
The band dusts off an old Procol Harum classic to finish off the album. (The song appeared on the "Live with the Edmonton Philharmonic" album which included the single "Conquistador.") This song starts with a spoken piece, then an instrumental section that serves as an overture. The Procol Harum trademarks - classical melodic lines, grandiose passages - are all here. Seven minutes in, an ascending riff escalates to near chaos, but then the song pulls itself into a rather dramatic section before regaining itself. It sounds as though everyone gets a chance at vocals in the ensuing verses, and rarely does one person sing an entire verse throughout. The song ends with a guitar solo over a chord progression that takes several twists and turns before closing with a grand bang.
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