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Alan Simon

Big Bang

Review by Gary Hill

The newest disc from Alan Simon, this is another strong one. It has a lot of the melodic progressive rock sounds that are the mainstay of so much of his career. There is plenty of classical music here along with fusion and more. As is often the case with his albums, this features a number of guests including Michael Sadler of Saga fame, Alan Stivell and John Helliwell of Supertramp and Roberto Tiranti of Labyrinth.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Prologue of the First Day
Atmospheric keyboard textures start this. There are some spoken bits that seem like space ship radio chatter. Then the whole thing powers out into some killer symphonic prog sounds to build forward. After the two minute mark it drops to just piano and works forward from there, gradually building back upward. Some chorale vocals are heard over the top as it continues. That section takes it to the dramatic crescendo.
Chaos
Spacey atmospherics lead this out of the gate and hold it for a time. It eventually makes its way out to some intriguing melodic progressive rock from there. The piano serves up some tasty melodies as it makes its way along this road. As it drives out into more of a rocking motif, I really love the bass work. Saxophone climbs up to bring a jazzy flavor to things. This just keeps evolving as it makes its way into the future. There is  cool bass solo bit later in the track, but it returns to the earlier modes after that. It eventually draws to a dramatic close.
Alpha Centauri
Space atmospherics open this. It shifts toward more of a symphonic element with some world music in the mix as it gets more grounded. This works through a number of shifts and changes, creating some killer symphonic prog.
Seven Moons in the Sky
Atmospheric effects driven sounds lead this off and work it gradually upward. Eventually this works toward some seriously rocking stuff. It reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd. This number is the first to have any actual sung vocals. They bring a cool melodic prog vibe to the song.
Interstellar
This starts suitably spacey and atmospheric and grows outward from there. As it grows outward there are some killer classical meets fusion kinds of textures that grow out and hold it.
Solarius
More trippy space sounds lead this out of the gate. There are some spoken lyrics, and the cut grows into some symphonic instrumental prog that's dramatic and powerful. It drops back for a mellower movement. There are sung vocals once it powers back upward. This is a cool rocker.
The Soul of the Stars
Mellow dramatic stuff brings this into being, and it works outward with symphonic elements. Some cool guitar creates surge fills later and a saxophone lends some melodic bits. This is a jazzy kind of number that probably lands under "space fusion."
Starlight
A rather dramatic build up begins this. They launch out into some energized melodic progressive rock from there. I dig the saxophone soloing that comes over the arrangement later.
Moon
A melodic prog jam, this is another that makes me think of Pink Floyd a bit. There is a good chunk of fusion and some world music here, too.
Andromeda
Symphonic elements and piano create an intriguing soundscape. It's a melodic number that's a rather smooth ride.
Space Time
I dig the space jazz vibe of this cut. After a mellower introduction, the composition works out to an energized and rather rocking jazzy groove. I really love the horn work on this piece. The number drifts to pure space at the end.
The Journey
More space radio chatter opens this piece. The chatter gets rather unsettling as the music starts to rise up and take over. A killer fusion groove emerges from there, calling to mind Tangerine Dream and Synergy. A chorus of voices is heard as it works onward. There is a world music vibe to this brought by those voices and some funk brought by the rhythm section. This is such a cool groove. It's infectious. There is more radio chatter later in the track, but this time over the almost disco musical groove.
Fools
A melodic prog piece, this has some great vocal work from Michael Sadler. The arrangement has a definite symphonic rock texture. This is a rather mellow and slow cut that seems to combine something like Alan Parsons Project with James Bond theme song type vibes.  A choir of vocals joins after a while. This gets quite dramatic and powerful as it grows outward. It works back to the song proper movement with a more intense take on it. This is my favorite piece on this disc.    
The Waltz of the Universe
Coming in mellower and atmospheric, this works out in gentle ways. This has a real classical music element at play. There are symphonic instruments and piano at the heart of a lot of it. Space sounds end the cut and the album.
 
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