Veteran UK Bassist Mick Paul brings us his first solo album Parallel Lives, with a very impressive collection of guest performers including David Cross (David Cross Band/King Crimson) and David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator).
The album opens with Your Days, which could have been an excellent track were it not for the totally unnecessary and completely out of place machine-gun attack double kick drum which detracts from any enjoyment this track might have brought.
No Horizon features some excellent playing from David Cross though the track itself wanders around through various stylistic changes that don't really advance the song.
Uncharted Course is an excellent King Crimson-like jam instrumentally. The vocals actually become forgettable and really were not necessary on this track
Cypher sounds like it was recorded straight off the recording studio floor so we will forgive some of the minor recording imperfections just for the sake of the immediacy of the performance - some excellent playing on this track.
Swallows is an excellent track with some fantastic flute work from David Jackson.
Frozen Perspective is a four minute soundscape that while very spacey and trippy, really doesn't go anywhere
The final three tracks on the album are the ones that make this album worth the price of admission. Starting with Name On You, which has a very tight progressive-pop groove to it with some of the best vocals of the album and a couple of fantastic guitar breaks. Next up, Consigned To Reality, again gives us a very tight performance with a vocal which almost brings to mind more recent performances of Geddy Lee. The album concludes with Morning Skyline, a great jazz fusion number which brings to mind comparisons to UZEB or Stu Hamm's Kings of Sleep album - VERY enjoyable.
This is actually a very good album but the vocals are the biggest downfall - not that the vocals aren't good, but that they don't actually add anything to the songs and in some places seem to be at odds with what is going on musically. The other draw-back to this album is it's lack of continuity - tracks move from free-form jazz to spaced-out soundscapes to progressive pop without ever really drawing a connection and thus doesn't pull the listener in. The individual tracks are quite good, but the over-all feel of the album is disjointed and not engaging....BUT those last three tracks REALLY do make the album!
*** David Carswell
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