Let the train take the strain

As a Brit it is a tad odd, I suppose, that the genre of progressive rock music that really floats my boat is American third wave symphonic prog. In fact Unfolded Like Staircase by Discipline and As the World, Mei and echolyn (the ‘Window’) album are in my all-time Top 20. Along with The Darkened Room and Crush of Night by Izz.
The live version of Mei from Stars and Gardens is my current travelling companion, hence the train reference in the title. It’s a small small train, before Brad gets all giddy.
All 30 minutes plus of this phenomenal composition is a live juggernaut. The ‘Mei’ album is I think an absolutely vital cornerstone of any self-respecting prog fan’s collection. The fact that the live version segues into Shades, one of my all-time favourite tracks makes this live album one of my very best iTunes purchases.
Influenced by Yezda Urfa (see elsewhere on the site for an excellent retrospective), Kansas and Gentle Giant echolyn have I think managed something all too rare in modern prog: the ability to sound totally unique. Echolyn sound like, well, echolyn (it is meant to be a lowercase ‘e’). I could go on forever about Chris Buzby’s beautifully organic analogue synth and organ sounds; Brett Kull’s fantastically fluid guitar and gentle vocals; Ray Weston’s anguished vocals and lyricism; Tom Hyatt’s Jaco-esque bass playing and Paul Ramsay’s effortless drumming. But it’s only a relatively short train journey.

Head on over to http://www.echolyn.com and you will discover a ton of free downloads of songs from throughout their career. Yes, free downloads of full songs including rare live tracks.
For the echolyn virgin I would recommend Stars and Gardens, available on iTunes (there is a dvd of the concert too which is fabulous if you can get hold of it). Studio-wise I’d recommend As the World, recorded for major Label Sony 20 years ago or so and recently reissued in a lovingly remastered and repackaged form by the band. Then perhaps try the latest, critically acclaimed eponymous album. It topped many a critic’s ‘best of list’ in 2012 and rightly so. I reviewed it elsewhere and could not find fault with it.
So, the evening commute is over and this piece, written in real time whilst listening to one of my very favourite bands of all time has been a very enjoyable and therapeutic experience. I hope you enjoy as much discovering this wonderful band’s back catalogue.

Thoughts?

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