Lisa LaRue 2KX - Fast And Blue

(CD 2011, 56:52, First People Media 2011-01)

The tracks:
  1- Mystery Of The Rose(1:10)
  2- Prometheus(17:58)
  3- Tryptych(4:54)
  4- Jam Jehan Nima(12:51)
  5- Lament Of The Cherokee/Ruins Of Home(7:30)
  6- Fast And Blue(5:12)
  7- Recurring Dream(7:17)

Lisa LaRue 2KX Website        Myspace

Fast And Blue is the stunning debut album from Lisa LaRue 2KX. The band consists of the key members Lisa LaRue (keyboards), Steve Adams (guitar, bass) and Merril Hale (drums). John Payne (vocals, bass), the former member of Asia, is considered to be an additional member. Special guests on this fine release are keyboardist Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard, K2), singer Michael Sadler (Saga), bassist Don Schiff on NS Stick (Rocket Scientists), guitarist Mitch Perry (Asia with John Payne), backing vocalist Maxi Nil (Visions Of Atlantis) and cellist Michael Alvarez.

The band is led by Lisa LaRue, an American musician from Oklahoma, who has already recorded several other albums that mostly deal with native Americans. The music she writes and creates can be labeled best as neo-classical progressive rock with definite influences from the seventies, the early days of prog. This style of music can also be heard on Fast And Blue which again contains issues about native Americans. 

The album starts with Mystery Of The Rose, the shortest track on the album. This one-minute track can be regarded as an introduction to Prometheus, the first epic on this release. In my opinion this eighteen-minute track is the highlight of the album, because it has a very high level of musicianship. Especially the music of Yes must have been an inspiration for this long instrumental piece, although I clearly recognize the music of Steve Hackett's early albums as well. The outstanding percussion parts sound very dramatically and are very well performed. The guitarists and keyboard players get enough room to play some excellent solos. Especially Ryo Okumoto gets ample time on the second half of this piece to show his musical talents.

Tryptych is next; it sounds as if you attend a classical concert. The acoustic guitar and the cello create a very mellow mood. The beautiful melody played on the piano made me think of the music of Eric Satie. This song leads gently to the second epic piece. As the title already indicates Jam Jehan Nima contains some mid-eastern hints, but also some jazzy passages are audible. A choral group creates a dark and church-like sound which works excellent. This song starts rather mellow and peaceful, but the use of some aggressive guitar playing changes the music to a symphonic metal-like sound.

Lament Of The Cherokee / Ruins of Home starts very mellow either, with some playing on the cello. The narration by John Payne reminded me of the way actor Christopher Lee used his voice for several musical projects. After the narration the music gets more up-tempo. John Payne is also present on the title track, but now his voice sounds the same as on the Asia-albums after having replaced John Wetton. Due to this familiar voice it's obvious that this piece sometimes reminded me of Asia. The album finishes with Recurring Dream having Michael Sadler on lead vocals, while Payne provides some strong backing vocals. It's a fine mellow piece with hints of Steve Howe (Yes), mainly caused by the sound of the guitar.

The Special Edition of this release contains a DVD as well with several videos and a magazine with artwork and photos. Unfortunately I can't tell you what it looks like since I only received the single CD-version. But there's no need to complain; the CD is already worth having, because I think Fast And Blue by Lisa LaRue is a top-notch album!

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

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