Another one of the albums in my Top Ten for 2012 is Neal Morse’s Momentum.
Brad Birzer appends a useful album overview to the end of his epic CWR review of Neal Morse’s career:
Not a concept in the way several of his other albums are, Momentum most resembles his penultimate album with Spock’s Beard, “V.” As with its 2000 counterpart, Momentum has six songs. The first five are eight minutes or less long, with the last song being a 34-minute epic.
With skill and passion, Morse’s new album considers [in “Momentum”:] the pace of modernity and our reactions to it, [in “Thoughts Part 5”:] the necessity of appearing deep in conversation, [in “Smoke and Mirrors”:] how to weather deception in this world, [in “Weathering Sky”:] how one interprets his calling in the world, and [in “Freak”:] the way a powerful spiritual figure would be perceived should he arrive bodily in the present day (I’ll leave it for the reader to discover the identity of the protagonist in the track, “Freak,” as Morse deftly leaves the identity a mystery until the very end of the song) in his shorter tunes.
The epic is, well, epic. As the title, “World without End,” suggests, the thirty-four minutes explore the motivations of a person, and especially whether he or she is trying to shape the ephemeral or the permanent and timeless.
I have to admit that one of my favorite moments on the disc is when the title track glides on into the killer guitar solo that is expertly framed by an ecstatically swirling keyboard flight path:
Go listen to 3:10—4:10 on the album track…
Indeed, that is definitely one of the best minutes of prog we have heard all year.
(Note: 2:49—3:18 in the video below has the killer guitar solo, but omits the awesome keyboard/guitar dogfight. But I am not complaining: I love that I heard the Single Edit version first by watching it as a sneak peek on YouTube; and then, even though I had already fallen in love with the song, when I downloaded the album itself, I got the extra thrill of hearing the suddenly-new keyboard/guitar dogfight now added to the end! It was a unique experience unparalleled by any previous prog preview encounter!)
No doubt one key reason why I love the track “Momentum” so much is that Mike Portnoy’s praeternaturally superb drumming effortlessly channels uncanny Neal Peart-isms at the key inflection point… 2:56—3:10 on the album track.
(You can watch him do that trick at 2:42—2:49 in the video below. Again: it’s even better in the full-length, unedited version!)
This album was a milestone for me: it was the first time I bought hi-res AIFF audio files online.
I give a big thumbs up to Radiant Records for being such an awesome resource for music lovers!