A Review of Drifting Sun, Trip the Life Fantastic (2015).
This is the best word to describe Drifting Sun’s 2015 release, Trip the Life Fantastic. From its opening note to its final one, Drifting Sun’s album brings a sense of drama and theater to rock. There’s a Queen, Ordinary Psycho, and Muse feel to the drama, but Drifting Sun are too interesting to be derivative. Respectful of the past, for sure. Derivative, no.
The prominence of the grand piano helps define the drama of their sound, but so does the lead singer’s voice. Peter Falconer (what a great name!) possesses a warm and captivating voice. It’s not necessarily a beautiful voice, but it is a compelling one, one that effectively invites the listener to become a part of the story.
In addition to Queen and Muse, already mentioned, I’m also reminded of mid-70s Supertramp and mid-80s Tears for Fears when I listen to Falconer’s vocals. When I listen to the variety and flow of the album, I’m reminded of Fragile from Yes.
Based in the U.K., Drifting Sun has been in existence for almost twenty years, but Trip the Life Fantastic features a brand-new line up of musicians with only the keyboardist, Pat Sanders, remaining from earlier incarnations of the band. It’s rather clear—even from the most cursory listen—that each musician in this band takes his craft very seriously.
If I had any complaint about the album—and, believe me, it’s a minor one—it would be that some of the keyboard sounds, especially when imitating strings, sound a bit forced. The band is at its best when it simply plays piano, guitar, bass, and drums. There’s such a raw honesty to the album that the employment of synthesizer seems out of place. Perhaps, however, this is merely a production, engineering, and mastering issue rather than a song-writing one. And, the synths only appear a few times on the album. It is, thankfully, the grand piano that predominates.
Indeed, one of the things I most appreciate is the lack of irony in the album. Though these guys are singing about wizards, witches, and other unworldly and other-worldly things, they do so with grand seriousness. This is quite a nice contrast to our post-modern world which tends to wink “knowingly” at all such things.
Drifting Sun is a fine band, and it’s a band that bears much watching. It will be interesting to see how it develops from here. Kudos to them for the achievement of Trip the Life Fantastic.