Way back at the end of August, in my review of Mike Kershaw’s Ice Age, I said I was looking forward to future releases from Mike. Well, here we are! And Departure is even better than Ice Age!
Departure basically picks up where Ice Age left off. The first track, “Farewell,” is a goodbye to the long winter spoken of at length in the previous album (sounds great right about now in the frozen tundra of southern Michigan). This song is my favorite on the album. It is very upbeat, and it features Progarchy’s very own Frank Urbaniak (Fractal Mirror) on drums, as well as Gareth Cole on guitar. I believe the collaboration took Mike Kershaw’s musical ideas to the next level. The song is reminds me very much of Fractal Mirror. Interestingly enough, when I first heard Fractal Mirror, it reminded me of Mike Kershaw’s music. I was really excited when I saw that Mike collaborated with them on this EP.
Thematically, Departure is not as structured as Ice Age, presumably because it is a shorter EP, and because not every song here is new. The song “Origami” was recorded during the Ice Age sessions, and “An Ordinary Poison,” which was recorded with Fractal Mirror, is a re-recording of an older song Mike Kershaw made. This is also especially good. Overall, the EP is heavily synth driven, just like Mike’s earlier work. It seems like there is a little more guitar work here as well, which I think is a nice improvement. Frank Urbaniak’s drums are fantastic, bringing a smooth rhythm and driving beat to the music. The added vocals from Fractal Mirror’s Leo Koperdraat, among others, was a nice added touch. As always, Mike’s deep, quiet vocals add a wonderful sense of contemplation to the music.
The songs on Departure do a wonderful job of combining Mike’s creative talent with his collaborations. The songs that are strictly Mike Kershaw are more like his older work, with a darker, brooding sense to them. The collaborated pieces have a more upbeat and fuller sound to them. Overall, there is a good balance of styles on this EP. For those that couldn’t quite get into Ice Age, I’m sure you will find Departure to be more accessible. I believe that this EP marks a definite step forward for Mr. Kershaw, and I am excited to see what else he has forthcoming in the months ahead.