Unto Us - 'The Human Landscape'

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Unto Us - 'The Human Landscape'

There's plenty for the fan of Neo-Prog to enjoy.

It was five years ago that Huw Lloyd-Jones left Also Eden and indicated he'd return with Unto Us. Given the ensuing gestation period I'd forgotten about this enterprise so was surprised when an album actually emerged. The question is has the wait been worth it? Fortunately, the answer is yes; there's plenty for the fan of Neo-Prog to enjoy.

In true Prog style the album consists of just six tracks with only the short piano segue 'A Human Landscape', at a couple of minutes, clocking in at under eight minutes; the other tracks all being between the eight and eleven minute mark. This permits the songs to develop naturally, to have a nice ebb and flow plus insightful lyrical content. At no stage do any of these tracks outstay their welcome to become either boring or tiresome which is testimony to the skill of both the song-writing and arranging.

Lloyd-Jones (vocals) is joined by the bizarrely named Leopold Blue-Sky on bass, Alex White (keyboards), Tom Ennis (guitars) and former Also Eden drummer Dave Roelofs; the latter has had to step down to be replaced by Rohan Jordan-Shah.

Musically I'd put Unto Us alongside the likes of Pallas, IQ, Riversea and AE (no surprise there); vocally Lloyd-Jones has a rich, sonorous voice that puts me in mind of Alison Moyet, albeit with the phrasing of Alan Reed (ex-Pallas) coming to the fore from time to time.

I've not heard of either White or Ennis previously but both shine throughout the album, with the piano being particularly noteworthy and the other keyboard contributions are none too shabby either. The guitars are nice and varied with Ennis being able to cover a number of styles with incisiveness and clarity; he doesn't get carried away with being flash or over-indulgent. When he does get the chance, his runs and solos are the kind which make you go, "ooo, nice."

The album opener, 'Towers Of Babel', is ushered in on a great drum pattern and then the other instruments are introduced; the guitar theme is a delight as are the synth embellishments. The track builds and really Rocks at certain stages in the process laying down a marker for the rest of the album. 'Boy' has a Pink Floyd acoustic guitar start but moves in a different direction thereafter, the piano is exceptional. Lloyd-Jones gets to sing over a simple keyboard refrain at the outset of 'In A Lifetime' and he's superb as is the rest of a wonderful song.

'Plan B' is a terrific closer that mixes slow delicate sections with those based on heavy guitar, the lengthy instrumental break is rather special.uh

Gary Marshall

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