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Glass Hammer - Ode To Echo CD (album) cover

ODE TO ECHO

Glass Hammer

 

Symphonic Prog

3.46 | 141 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Matti
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I'm surprised at the minimal amount of reviews. And at the same time the new YES album gets myriads of (very strong and mostly negative) opinions! This thought came to my mind for the fact that Jon Davison sings on both albums. Surely Yes is on the very top in the entire prog history for me too, but when it comes to the prog of this Millennium, I'm much more interested to listen to newer bands, including those who draw their influence from the greats. GLASS HAMMER (US) belongs to the same generation with The Flower Kings and Spock's Beard, but seems to be notably less recognized (for example here in Finland I haven't seen their albums in libraries). I'm only vaguely familiar with their releases; Ode To Echo is actually my first complete GH experience.

I think this is a noteworthy slice of finely crafted modern symphonic prog. Also the art work from the worlds of Greek mythology and the classic art history is more fascinating than yet another Roger Dean landscape... The music is loaded with retro-oriented keyboards of Fred Schendel - and vocal harmonies, which is a typical feature in the US prog. Jon Davison is only one of three "lead vocals" here (others are Carl Growes and Susie Bogdanowicz) and there are many more vocals too, both from the core members and guests. Steve Babb's bass playing is a pleasure to spot throughout the album. Guitars perhaps remain too secondary on the long run.

The 52-minute album is a safe and pleasing, almost surpriseless, listening experience. Not much sticks to one's memory, but it feels natural to give it another spin right away. By listening the fine 10- minute 'Misantrog' you'd get a pretty good picture of the whole album; to some point it feels rather samey and lacks truly memorable moments. Tracks such as 'I Am I' - a dialogue between Echo and Narcissus - features plenty of complexity, but also the feeling of flying near the ground. The GENESIS epic 'Fountain of Salmacis' wipes floors with this music when it comes to the drama power and dynamics. Hey, now I figure out what's the problem: this music is too even, lacking of strong contrasts. Someone wrote "progginess just for the sake of sounding proggy" and I have to agree. As a background listening it works marvellously.

I don't know the origins of Gerry Coffin / Carole King -penned 'Porpoise Song' but I dislike the 60's psychedelic flavour in this version. Easily the worst track. Highlights include 'Crowbone' with a cool guest appearance of violin, cal and chamber music flavoured 'Panegyric' for Susie's voice, and perhaps the closing track 'Ozymandias' as a good example of the use of vocal harmonies and a colourful keyboard arsenal. Warm organ and electric piano are the most heard ones I guess; Wakemanesque melodic brightness is mostly mising.

As you can see, I'm not sure whether I'm fond of this album or do I find it slightly boring. Probably both. You better try yourself. 3½ stars.

Matti | 4/5 |

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