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Transatlantic - 'Kaleidoscope' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/16/53/cf/Transatlantic-Kaleidoscope-38-1394986071.jpg Hot

Added by James Gaden     March 16, 2014    
 
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This is a splendid album and will take some shifting from my albums of 2014 list.

I’d hoped to submit a brief review for the last issue of Fireworks based on a playback event; unfortunately the boorish behaviour of the supposedly professional journalists in attendance rendered the music inaudible. I felt sorry for bassist, Pete Trewavas, who endured only three people trying to listen to his music. On a positive note, the world of Prog starts 2014 on a distinct high with this release which is another incredibly compelling piece of work from a supergroup worthy of that overused accolade.

With strong-willed individuals in the band there’s potential for egos to get in the way, but what I love about Transatlantic is that those parts all come together as a wonderful whole as they meld their styles so seamlessly. For lovers of Prog it’s all here; the more overt references to Spock’s Beard/Neal Morse and the Flower Kings plus inflections of Dream Theater and Marillion. Given that they had a window of just ten days to make this album, it’s astonishing they produced something this strong plus a bonus disc of eight covers.

The album proper consists of five tracks with epics (‘Into The Blue’ and the title track) bookending three shorter songs. Of those, ‘Shine’ is a classic Morse song but imbued with Transatlantic magic by the vocal duties being shared with Roine Stolt and Mike Portnoy. It will undoubtedly be a live favourite. Talking of Portnoy his drumming is as superb as ever and Trewavas’ bass is a delight throughout. Stolt’s guitar solos are beautiful and just a little different to those he does with The Flower Kings.

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‘Black As The Sky’ has a keyboard refrain that could only be Transatlantic, it rattles along at pace and has an infectious chorus. Stolt’s vocals are more strident than usual, and none the worse for it. The keyboard section has something of Genesis about it while every member gets to lead the vocals at one point or another.

‘Beyond The Sun’ is a Morse ballad in the ‘We All Need Some Light’ style, both plaintiff and very moving. It dovetails perfectly into the opening passage of the title track which is one of those fantastic overtures the band seems to produce so easily.

Both epics are truly splendid, beautifully constructed, multi-part affairs that sweep and soar through various phases, passing so quickly as to defy their actual length. As usual they are chock full of glorious themes, refrains and melodies. Live guest musician Daniel Gildenlöw gets to sing lead on the first and does so wonderfully, while Trewavas gets a lead vocal on the latter.

This is a splendid album and will take some shifting from my albums of 2014 list.

Gary Marshall

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