This Oceanic Feeling - 'Universal Mind'

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This Oceanic Feeling - 'Universal Mind'

Melodic music for grown-ups with thought-provoking, intelligent lyrics.

I have visions of the allocating of this album going something like this. Our illustrious Reviews Editor was sat in the dungeon of Fireworks Towers salivating over his secret scrapbook of Symphonic sirens when the Master Of The House, Sir Bruce of Mee, pops his head around the door – "another plain brown package for you, Dave" said with a hint of disapproval. Dave with a startled and quickly replies – "sorry, I thought I'd cancelled... oh, wait!! It looks like a potential review, not a ...". Quickly grabbing the package off Sir Bruce our Reviews Ed rips it open and reads the usual promotional blurb – "aaahh, it states that Chris Braide is involved with this lot... I know just the man to review it ..."

Now, rewind to issue #65* and it is clear that my first foray into the world of Braide was a success to say the least. A singer/song-writer/multi-instrumentalist of some repute, he has worked alongside some of Pop's finest, produced albums, released solo albums ('Fifty Dollar Planets And Twenty Cent Stars' really is a gem), and collaborated with Geoff Downes (Yes, Asia) on 'Pictures Of You'.

Now he's back; this time with Ash Soan (drums) and Lee Pomeroy (bass) in tow, delivering what I can only categorize as Prog Pop. But please, don't dismiss it half-heartedly, as this may be that "something a little different" you've been waiting for. Braide compares it to '...that of The Police and '90125' era Yes'. One thing you're guaranteed on getting though, are vocals that drip like honey from a spoon; add to that a top class rhythm section and you get a cinematic aural delight.

I must point out here, if you have an insatiable craving for riffing/soaring guitars then look elsewhere because 'Universal Mind' is keys dominated affair. Conceptual in nature, it explores and probes the psychological and psychotherapeutic state of Man's relationship with 'self-obsession, virtual personas and overpowering ego' – definitely one to absorb in a single sitting. Highlights are in abundance; 'Lie Detector' is a rather demure, unorthodox opener, but entices the listener in. 'Put Down The Gun' has an upbeat melody juxtaposed with sombre lyrics, whilst 'Universal Mind' is hypnotically heavenly. 'Radio' oozes commerciality and intimates that a utopia can be reached whilst being confined in a personal dystopia. 'Logotherapy' harks back to TP circa 'Reggatta De Blanc'. On the home straight, 'Karma Camera' is a striking piece with shades of Pink Floyd and the penultimate track 'Seasons Of Light', at over eight minutes, amalgamates all that's gone before.

Is this album suitable for Fireworks & Rocktopia? Well, it's melodic music for grown-ups with thought-provoking, intelligent lyrics; so the simple answer is... damn right it is – outstanding!

Dave Crompton

(* ... of Fireworks Magazine)

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