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Geoffrey Downes - The Light Program (The New Dance Orchestra) CD (album) cover


Geoffrey Downes


Crossover Prog

4.33 | 11 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Ethnic dances

In 1986 Asia was on hold and Geoffrey Downes found himself on his own. This situation gave him the opportunity to record his first solo album for which he adopted the moniker of The New Dance Orchestra. There is no orchestra here, however, and neither is this by any means dance music. Rather, what we have here is an electronic symphony of sorts, with everything done by Geoff himself on his multitude of electronic keyboards and acoustic piano.

The Light Progam consists of five long tracks ranging from 11 and a half to 16 and a half minutes in length. All of the five movements are packed with strong melodic ideas and despite the album's considerable running time of well over an hour, Downes still manages to keep the listeners interest throughout. Admittedly, it is quite possible that this music could have sounded even better than it does had Geoff hired a real band to back him up. Some real drums, some bass guitar, and perhaps some electric and acoustic guitars could probably have done wonders. However, what is here is surprisingly good and the programmed drums sound surprisingly lively and Geoff succeeds well in mimicking other instruments with his plethora of synths and keyboard instruments.

What carries the music forward is the melodies that are here in abundance. No part overstays its welcome but moves into something new just at the right times to keep things fresh and exciting. The melodies are varied and there are many different styles and sounds perfectly interwoven to form an appealing musical tapestry. I especially enjoy the several ethnic and folky elements.

Of course this music cannot be compared to that which Downes had made with Yes or Asia, but it does compare very favourably with many other keyboard players' solo efforts and you can hear how Downes is influenced by Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman and how he in turn influenced Erik Norlander whose Galactic Collective album is a reference point here.

Downes' best solo album and an excellent album of its kind!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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