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Clearlight - 'Impressionist Symphony' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/98/f1/4d/clear-35-1410031580.jpg Hot

Added by Franco     September 06, 2014    
 
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Even as a fan of the genre, there are many parts that I find rather cluttered with far too much going on and therefore difficult to listen to.

I have to say I think this release will be of limited interest to the majority of Fireworks readers as it is instrumental Symphonic Prog which at times borders on the avant-garde; Psychedelic, Spacey and Jazzy, occasionally all at the same time. Even as a fan of the genre, there are many parts that I find rather cluttered with far too much going on and therefore difficult to listen to. The very opening track 'Renoir en Couleur' being a case in point, certainly during its first half. It becomes somewhat more palatable and tuneful thereafter even if it's still rather busy for my taste.

Clearlight were big in the 1970s, being signed to Virgin Records, and having their 'Clearlight Visions' album making Billboard's 100 All-Time Best Prog Albums list, but despite cutting my Prog teeth at that time, they weren't a name that appeared on my particular radar. After a hiatus they are back with their eighth album.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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As I listened to this album I found myself jotting down the names of bands that certain sections of their music reminded me of and there are many; Renaissance, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Flower Kings, Spock's Beard, Camel, Steve Hackett, Kansas, Kraftwerk and Mike Oldfield amongst others.

'Time Is Monet' (ha-ha) is more restrained with piano, flute and violin giving, at times, the feel of Camel and Kansas getting together. At three minutes this would be getting the big thumbs up from me but at nine it does drag on; as with so much on this album less would definitely have been more. 'Pissarro King' opens with a TFK-like refrain before moving into Renaissance territory, with some synth swooshes redolent of Kraftwerk which are then usurped by a Mike Oldfield style guitar melody. Maybe the inclusion of tubular bells is a clue.

Piano and sampled trumpet dominate 'Degas de la Marine' while guest Steve Hillage's guitar and Chris Kovax's synths are prominent on 'Van Gogh 3rd Ear' again giving a TFK vibe to proceedings but without ever delivering the level of melody I expect from the Swedes.

The flute opening on 'Gauguin dans L'Autre' is pure Ian Anderson and the piano refrain from main man Cyrille Verdeaux is a delight but the spacey synth work is extremely distracting and unnecessary. We're into Camel territory with 'Lautrec Too Loose' (be careful...my splitting sides) but once again the Spacey embellishments detract from the lovely piano work and the Oldfield-like guitar.

'Monet Time' closes the album and is delightful in its simplicity, something the whole album cries out for, with just piano and violin but even here it all gets a bit overwrought.

Gary Marshall

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