Vast Conduit is a new progressive rock band hailing from California and this band is a “project” of Bill Jenkins (keyboards), who is also best known from Enchant (great, but very underestimated band) and Thought Chamber. Besides Jenkins, Vast Conduit consists of drummer Will Jenkins (Ghost And The City, Great Wall), guitar picker Michael Harris (Arch Rival, Thought Chamber, Darkology), bass player Jeff Plant (Thought Chamber), violin player Jim Hurley (Ritchie Blackmore, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and vocalist Friel.
The eleven songs on this debut album, titled Always Be There, are a mix of The Flower Kings, Spock's Beard, Toto, Mystery and of course Enchant and the highlights being the four instrumental ones. Too Busy is rather jazzy, funky, and bass player Plant really shines here, Soul Tuck is a superb instrumental; Philly Etymology is a fusion like one featuring trumpet by Tom Abraira, while the fourth instrumental Of A Feather, featuring Jim Hurley on violin rather sounds like the Mahavishnu Orchestra indeed! Odessa has an almost catchy chorus and also a soaring, beautiful guitar solo, while Endless Days truly reminds me of a Steve Hackett song and songs like Endless Days and 500 Miles feature some AOR Toto-like musical characteristics!
Always Be There is an excellent and formidable debut from Jenkins and Co.; an album that grows on you every time you listen to it again; smooth prog played almost second to none! Listening tips: Barrier and Soul Tuck.
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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