The Far Cry is a USA based formation rooted in 1976 when the musical friends Robert Hutchinson (drums, percussion, bells and spoken words) and Jeff Brewer (lead/backing vocals, bass, bass synth, bass pedals and guitar) started to make music together. And in the Eighties the duo was part of the highly acclaimed USA prog band Holding Pattern. Now fast forward to 2013 when Robert Hutchinson purchased a speaker cabinet Jeff Brewer had for sale. In the attendant dialogue, the pursuit of the likely impossible was quickly broached and a decision made to chase the dream just one more time. Thus the seeds for The Far Cry were sown. Eventually, the duo decided to enter the recording studio to get the material up and running. Guitarist Bryan Collin had already been in contact, having answered a Craigslist ad, and was amenable to playing on the recordings. Bryan Collin was now The Far Cry guitarist. Still, a highly competent keyboardist was required. Studio owner and master engineer John Bolduc was asked if he knew of any keyboard man who could properly interpret and perform the music he was hearing. John responded instantaneously: Chris Dabbo. No time was wasted in contacting him. All involved were highly enthused and Chris was drafted in as keyboardist for The Far Cry.
Most of the 7 compositions on their debut If Only... are built around the dynamic, alternating and powerful rhythm section (Robert on drums and Jeff on bass), embellished with inventive work on keyboards and guitars. One moment the music reminds of King Crimson, as in the varied The Mask Of Deception (fiery and sensitive guitar runs), and in The Missing Floor (bombastic eruptions with fat synthesizer flights and heavy guitar riffs). At other moments Frank Zappa comes to my mind, like in the hypnotizing Programophone (growling bass, and howling and biting guitar runs).
The long song Simple Pleasures (close to 14 minutes) starts and ends in an AOR atmosphere with strong vocals, in between a tender Grand piano interlude, joined by acoustic guitar, then a sumptuous outburst featuring a flashy synthesizer solo, in the end fiery guitar leads.
The tracks Winterlude, Winterlude Waning and Dream Dancer showcases the mellow side of the band, the first two featuring tender Grand piano play and warm acoustic guitar, simply wonderful, the other one dreamy work on electric guitar and keyboards.
Finally the epic titletrack close to 17 minutes. First a bombastic eruption with fat synthesizer flights and a Mellotron choir sound, then a catchy mid-tempo, topped with rock guitar and synthesizer flights. Next a mellow part with soaring keyboards, then tic-toc sound and bells, followed by a bombastic and dynamic sound, and finally military drums and flute.
Although in the longer compositions the music tends to sound like studio jams, I consider this debut CD as a dynamic and varied effort with lots of interesting musical ideas and good musicianship.
***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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