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Comedy Of Errors - Spirit CD (album) cover

SPIRIT

Comedy Of Errors

 

Neo-Prog

3.91 | 238 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars A far more sophisticated and complex effort than their frequently bouncy and peppy previous album `Fanfare and Fantasy' from 2013, Scottish band Comedy of Errors return with their biggest and most impressive musical statement to date with the concept album `Spirit'. An extra few years have refined the sound of the band by way of more adventurous arrangements and a richer vocal variety, and this time around the sometimes Pendragon-flavoured Neo Prog styling of the group has been given a lavish classical and frequently symphonic upgrade, resulting in a sweeping grandeur that weaves in and out of the entire disc.

Essentially a fifty-one minute suite that ponders life, death and personal tragedy, `Spirit' unfolds over ten continuous parts. Opener `My Grief All Lies Within' starts with a quick burst of whip-snap drumming and frantic riffing before slowly murmuring bass, gently rising keyboards and a melancholic collection of voices all come together, soon to be blasted by the snarling vocal of `Infinite Wisdom?' powered by organ pomp and a smashing beat. `Spirit Shines/Spirit' introduces a heavenly soothing vocal theme that drifts in and out of the album with sublime deftness, a warm mix of sighing harmonies, reflective organ, twinkling synth melodies and fancy piano that calls to mind British group Pendragon. Both `Can This Be Happening?' and `In Darkness Let Me Dwell' remind of Clive Nolan's other Neo band Arena with their heavier guitar grunt and spectral symphonic synths, and `I Call...' rises with orchestral elegance and theatrical build.

`Set Your Spirit Free/Goodbye my Love...' and the opening minutes of `Ascension...' emerge as stirring orchestrated grandiosity full of wonder and symphonic power that effortlessly welcomes a reprise of the winning `Spirit' theme from earlier in the disc. It's at this point that the final run of pieces lift the album to an almost legendary status, both `Into the Light' and `Above the Hills' victorious with sighing harmonies and soaring guitar soloing lifting to the heavens. Whirring Moog runs and graceful Mellotron veils deliver majestic themes in the classic Neo-Prog-flavoured mold of I.Q and the vintage Pendragon releases, with some addictive stop-start patterns that are especially satisfying once you know the album back to front! A six minute instrumental `Epilogue: This is How It Has to Be' closes the disc (discounting a `single' edit of `Spirit' that serves as a bonus track tacked onto the very end) with regal and sprightly flavours presented by chiming guitars, pristine ethereal synths, grumbling upfront bass and commanding drumming full of dignity and stature that would give Rick Wakeman or even modern symphonic masters Glass Hammer a run for their money!

The first couple of listens of `Spirit' reveal a few unengaging little stretches, and lead singer Joe Cairney is still something of an acquired taste (sounding somewhat like the love-child of Nick Barrett and Weird Al Yankovic!), but repeat plays help the album flow more naturally, balancing constant dramatic and hopeful passages - not to mention some surprisingly angry outbursts! - and the skilfully implemented reprises of themes throughout brings a thoughtfully considered cohesion. The emotions revealed throughout the album are never to be doubted as being anything but true and heartfelt, and lovers of any of above mentioned groups and those who especially connect with the melodic end of prog that equally balances superior vocal qualities and exciting instrumental skills will likely adore `Spirit'.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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