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Magic Bus - Phillip The Egg CD (album) cover

PHILLIP THE EGG

Magic Bus

 

Canterbury Scene

3.89 | 50 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SteveConrad
4 stars Magic Bus 'Phillip the Egg' 'enter the astral porthole.

I was provided a preview copy of this album by the band.

MAGIC BUS is a Totnes, Devon-based band performing in the Canterbury Scene/West Coast vibe sub-genre within Progressive Rock Music. Current members: Paul Evans, Jay Darlington, Terence Waldstradt, Wihll Mellorz, Viv Goodwin- Darke, and Mitch Pike.

'Phillip the Egg' is their third album, set to be released May 1, 2017.

I'm no expert in the Canterbury Scene school of progressive music, let me be clear. I've learned a bit from reading an essay in Progarchives, the progressive rock 'bible'. I've heard some Caravan tracks, and a few of the names of the early musicians, like Steve Hillage, Robert Wyatt, Richard Sinclair have some resonance.

But my tastes lean more toward the symphonic and metal edges of progressive music and there's always plenty to discover and to hear.

I am, however, old enough to remember- and even to participate in to some degree- the free-love era of hippies, Woodstock, love, peace, and drugs.

In addition, I relate to this album by MAGIC BUS because although they don't explicitly say so, there's plenty to suggest that at least some members love fantasy and science fiction. The band logo itself suggests Tolkien-esque runes (Elvish, of course), and the titles of the 8 tracks on this album also suggest the sort of epic voyage found in the best of those genres of literature.

So I approach this album as a musician, writer, reader, and fan of progressive rock music, and find in it sophistication, subtlety, fine ensemble playing, thematic repetition that helps build and release tension and many layers of texture and sound.

The context of the album, the title, the band's name, the members and their appearance, and their statements in public places cause me to believe they have made some commitments to the same sort of hippie vibe in which I grew and for a time embraced.

I heard this album as an expression of the longing for a simple, clean, peaceful, loving world, that so often seems to contrast with current reality. Hippies had the dream of a counter-cultural revolution, fighting non-violently against 'the System' and 'the Man' who were emblematic of structure, rules, order, bureaucracy, conformity, and submission.

MAGIC BUS with 'Phillip the Egg' appears to push in that direction via a cosmic journey, utilizing throw-back musical forms and sounds that encourage reminiscence about the '60's and '70's. However, the format suggests these musicians don't see the revolution able to save what this society, this world, has become.

I generally review albums via headphones, and was impressed with the layered, subtle musicality, the depth of keyboard sounds, the use of the flute, the interplay of guitars from clean to driven sounds right and left and center, along with excellent vocal lines and harmonies. The rhythm section was never showy- crisp drums alongside the roots-y bass-lines that sometimes took the lead, but were worlds away from the kind of in-your-face playing of Chris Squire or Geddy Lee.

In fact what I appreciated was how varied, changing, evolving, and engaging each track became, using a multitude of instrumentation and sound- mellotrons, synths, vibes, flute, and piano, plus the already mentioned guitar layers. None of this was the focus however.

Rather, it seemed to be the ensemble, the totality, that was the focus here. I caught flavors of the Middle East, and perhaps some Spanish sounds, and the use of repetition, yet varying. There might be bombast, as in Kepler 22b, but it would then evolve into something else.

Phillip the Egg became escapist, in the way Tolkien was escapist, yet also provided some commentary on contemporary times.

I found this an engaging, enjoyable musical experience. On a ten point scale I'd rate it 8.5/10- pretty darned strong.

SteveConrad | 4/5 |

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