Aquaplanage - Aquaplanage

(CD 2008, 58:52, Cheeky Features CFR-001)

The tracks:
1- Ode to Grey Mornings(15:27)
2- The Sands of Time(05:33)
3- Nature's Sunday(08:13)
4- Solara(05:10)
5- Aquaplanage(06:20)
6- Heaven's Gate(05:56)
7- A Song to Stand Above Them All(05:07)
8- Theme(03:10)
9- One Star(03:52)

Aquaplanage Website        samples       

Several years ago, I visited a concert of the fantastic Yes tribute band Fragile at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Fragile also accompanied Steve Howe during that same live show. The concert had a big impact on me and afterwards I asked the band members if they had ever thought of starting a progressive rock band to play material of their own. Well, Iím not sure if they listened to my advice, but the musicians I met then have now created something beautiful with Aquaplanage. The band members Robert Illesh (guitars, vocals, keyboards, orchestral arrangements, flute and programming), Steve Carney (lead vocals), Jon Bastable (bass guitar, samples) and Tom Dawe (guitar) deserve a big compliment. Together with Max Hunt (keyboards), Mitch Harwood (drums, vocals), Deborah Peake (violin), Ruth McGibben (viola) and Sophie Hurr (cello) they created an incredible debut album that features strong progressive rock music. They wrote the material on their eponymous album over a number of years and therefore it contains contributions of previous and current members of Fragile. You may expect that all compositions contain all kinds of elements taken from the music of Yes. During the first track, however, it becomes clear that this is not always the case. The long epic Ode To Grey Mornings begins with a Jethro Tull tune and you never get the idea that you are listening to a band that copied Yes-music for many years. The same song also proves that the band writes very melodic stuff with catchy vocal lines. In The Sands Of Time, you get the impression that you are listening to an Indian or Arabian band. All kinds of eastern elements make this song - dealing with an Egyptian slave - very special. The third track Natureís Sunday shows that the musicians are not only virtuosos on their instruments, but also great singers. The harmony vocals sound very strong and professional. The next two instrumental pieces indeed are very special. They show that Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe have been major inspirations for the band. The keyboard dominated Solara could have been taken from one of Rickís solo albums. The track features some fabulous pipe organ and grand piano by Max Hunt. The title track could be a performance of Mr. Howe himself. The guitar playing on Aquaplanage reaches a very high level and proves that the musicians have a fine ear for melody as well. You can hear more Yes influences on Heavenís Gate. Steve Carneyís high-pitched vocals strongly reminded me of Jon Anderson, but also Max Bacon, known as the vocalist of GTR, came to my mind. On A Song To Stand Above Them All, the band uses some funky rhythms, but they suit the song very well. It is obvious that Mike Oldfield was a great source of inspiration on Theme. The song represents the origin of the band. One Star is the final song on the album and goes again in the direction of GTR. It is a great Christmas tune finishing this wonderful album created by very talented musicians. Finally, I have to mention the artwork of the cover and the booklet. Ed Unitsky did a wonderful job and gave this superb album the package it deserves.

**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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