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Dave Bainbridge

Celestial Fire

Review by Gary Hill

This new album from David Bainbridge is quite a satisfying progressive rock excursion. It wanders through a number of varying prog styles, incorporating Celtic music at times, too. Still, it’s all made into something that works together in a very epic prog way. This is a particularly potent prog album. I like it a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Heavenfield

Short, dramatic and very Celtic, this instrumental introduction is quite cool.

Celestial Fire
This fires in with a great blending of progressive rock and fusion music. As the extended introduction works through there are some non-lyrical Yes-like vocals at one point. It takes us through several changes as it fills up more than the first two minutes of the piece. Then it drops way down to atmospherics for the first real vocals. It gradually gets more volume and intensity but stays pretty mellow. It eventually powers out to a rocking, rather Yes like movement. As it nears the seven minute mark, it drops down to music that connects it to “Heavenfield.” From there we return to the atmospheric mellow territory to continue. It keeps evolving as the sections rise up and shift and change. This is really a masterpiece. At almost fifteen and a half minutes in length, it’s also an epic. There are some pretty amazing moments.
See What I See

The vocals have a real soulful, rocking vibe. Musically, this is more like AOR progressive rock. Still, it’s definitely progressive rock. It’s more of a straight line than the previous cut was, but it still has plenty of contrasts and shifts and turns.

The First Autumn
Starting quite Celtic, this works out to mellower progressive rock territory. It’s like balladic folk prog. We’re taken into more rocking territory before this is over, though. At just over four minutes in length, it’s one of the shortest pieces here.
For Such a Time as This

The introduction on this powerhouse touches on vintage prog that at times makes me think of both Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Still, it has some fusion in the mix, too. When it drops down for the vocals, it’s atmospheric and those first vocals are spoken. After that winds through a series of changes take it. At times it’s mellower. At times it is more rocking. There is a killer guitar solo driven fusion movement. From there it just continues to develop. At times the progress isn’t exactly linear. There are various sidesteps along the way. Yet, they work (as does the whole piece) exceptionally well. Weighing in at about ten and a half minutes, this is one of the longer pieces here, and it’s mostly instrumental.

Innocence Found
It’s crazy that a song that’s almost six minutes in length is one of the shorter ones here. But, that’s the case. This has a lot of Celtic music in the mix. Still, it’s more or less folk progressive rock. It’s a more straight line song than some of the others, but has plenty of shifts and changes.
Love Remains

The keyboard dominated segment that opens this and (going through changes) holds it for a time really makes me think of ELP. It modulates out into something a bit more like Yes from there. This is another progressive rock epic. It’s also one of the most dynamic and diverse pieces here. Parts rock hard. Others are mellower. Some of this is quite Celtic. Other sections are more symphonic prog. All of it is classy and effective.

In the Moment
The first sections of this epic are mellower, but still diverse and dynamic. The cut works out to more rocking sounds as it continues. There are parts of this that are like a soaring AOR progressive rock, with the emphasis on the progressive rock end of the equation. Yet there are also extremely sedate and atmospheric moments. There are some amazing musical passages here. In fact, one of the last movements, a hard rocking one that makes me think of the band UK is among the best of the whole disc. This actually might be my favorite piece here, but it’s a tough contest between this and the title track.
Heavenfield (Reprise)

This instrumental calls back to the opening piece. It’s less than a minute long, mellow and pretty. 

On the Edge of Glory
Another instrumental, this is essentially Celtic prog. It’s also quite effective.


 

 
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