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Haze - World Turtle CD (album) cover





2.65 | 8 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars The band name issue might be a bit "hazy"

For this album, Haze rather confusingly changed their band name to World Turtle and christened the album Haze, after their old band name. Though very appropriately listed here as Haze album, this is also the first album by World Turtle. This band or project consists of two thirds of Haze; namely, brothers Chris and Paul McMahon. The only difference in personnel between Haze and World Turtle is thus the absence of drummer Paul Chisnell in the latter group. Sadly, the McMahon brothers chose not to replace Chisnell and opted instead for "artificial" drums for most of this album which is indeed its main fault. The name change was presumably motivated on grounds of showing respect for Chisnell rather than any attempt to distance themselves from their past. After all, had that been their intention they would hardly have named the album after their old band, would they? The connection between World Turtle and Haze is further strengthened by the inclusion of several reworked Haze numbers on this album. A further album under the World Turtle name was released in 1997, but the band seems to have reverted to their original moniker again in the new millennium when Paul Chisnell played with them again for their 30th anniversary shows (Haze goes back to 1978). These career-spanning reunion shows were recorded and resulted in an excellent double live CD with material by both Haze and World Turtle as well as a few "progified" songs by Chris' Folk Rock band Treebeard. It would surely have been less confusing and more congenial to the progress of the band's career had they stuck with their original band name all along.

Like on the Stoat & Bottle, we have here a reasonably appealing mix of mildly progressive Rock, straight-a-head Rock, 80's Pop, and Blues Rock. The Psychedelic Rock and Folk Rock influences I liked so much about the 30th Anniversary Shows live album are largely absent here. The Neo-Prog tag is not readily applicable. World Turtle is better produced in the sense that it sounds more professional, but ironically this 1994 album has more of an 80's sound compared to Stoat & Bottle that was actually recorded in the 80's. This is perhaps fitting as much of the material actually goes back to the 80's. The album opener The Ember, for example, goes as far back as the early 80's.

The lack of proper drums on many song gives them a rather stale and artificial sound. The Ember, See Her Face, The Edge Of Heaven, Autumn, and Another Country were all included on the 30th Anniversary Shows live album. And while these are among the best songs here, they are all better in their live versions, even if I don't care that much for the Blues rocker Autumn. The absolute highlight being the lovely The Edge Of Heaven. However, the live version sounded better than this studio version. On the live version it was heavily augmented by flutes which enhanced the song immensely. The pseudo-suite Straw House/Wooden House/Stone House finishes off the album on a relatively high note.

The McMahon brothers are fine songwriters, but they would certainly need to adopt a stricter quality control policy. With a total running time of 70 minutes, a few songs could easily have been dropped to make the album more succinct and effective. It could perhaps have been trimmed down to a more manageable 45 minutes or so, leaving only the better songs. Add to this better drums and more instrumental diversity and this album would surely have been considerably better than it is. These shortcomings together with the fact that the best songs here are available in better versions elsewhere leaves the present album a bit short. Still, it is a decent addition to any Haze collection.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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