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Spock's Beard - V CD (album) cover

V

Spock's Beard

 

Symphonic Prog

4.14 | 742 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I knew the band after they released their third album. Based on recommendation from my prog-mate in Bandung I then purchased all the first three albums. At that time I was not really "into" prog intensely cause I thought that the genre was bit stagnant. When all the three CDs arrived I was bit disappointed with the band music as it was too derivative with bits of "Yes", "Gentle Giant" and oh no . "Gypsy King". So I decided not to spin their music but I still continued buying their CDs. I don't know why. It's probably the band's reputation on the webs as so many people praising them or probably many of my prog mates talked about the band. I just did not want myself to be left behind. Pretentious? Might be. But actually I rarely spin the CDs of the band until I got my Transtlantic SMPTe CD which triggered me to spin some albums of the band.

Well, that's history. Sometime we can only appreciate prog music progressively through a passage of time. When my prog mate, Koni, who lives in Malang (approx 1000 miles away from Jakarta - to the east) urged me to have another try for this album, I accepted. On first couple of spins I still did feel "into" SB music especially on the part which sounds like The Gypsy King (the pop outfit that could flow nicely into my ears - sorry ). For me personally, the music of SB sounds like "being forced" to the way like the music sounds - so it does not seem natural for me. But OK OK . this time I want to see the band's music in totally different perspectives, using different spectacles. And I found the Gentle Giant's choir at "Thoughts (Part II)" is excellent. So I pushed myself to enjoy the music and this is my view .

At The End of The Days

This album opener is definitely an excellent track and I'm happy that this is positioned at the beginning of the album. It starts very nicely in an ambient mood with soft keyboard / mellotron sounds. This opening piece that ends approx 1 minute is really melodic and has successfully set an uplifting mood for the album. The drum sound enters gradually followed later with full music in funky style led by the beats from a combination of great bass guitar by Dave and drums by Nick. When Neal voice enters the music at first time the rhythm section is dominated by the combination of dynamic bass line, drums and organ at the background. The music turns complex with some great variations on drumming - really great, Nick! The music then flows with a variety of styles: keyboard solo in neo prog vein and slower tempo, jazz fusion style and some transitions with acoustic guitar and percussion (that luckily does not "exactly" sound like The Gypsy King .). The mellotron work by Ryo has enriched the textures of the track and reminds me to the 70s prog packaged in a much more modern sound. The organ solo is stunning! The guitar work by Alan is much indicated as filler but it has augmented the song really well. Oh by the way, I forget to mention - the harmony vocals is excellent! I am really satisfied with this track.

Revelation

It starts spacey and flows in a mellow style exploring the keyboard sounds and effects. The voice line enters with slow beat drumming. The music then flows in crescendo with higher register singing style. It turns quieter again and returns to mellow style. The music turns a bit complex with organ providing a great rhythm sound and solo. There is a strong influence of jazz especially when I observe the organ / keyboard works. Alan contributes his short guitar solo nicely.

Thoughts(Part II)

It opens with a nice acoustic guitar rhythm followed with low register notes vocals. "I thought I'd come to you and say / All the things I had on my mind / I thought it might be really great / To show you how I feel inside / Then I think ... MAYBE NOT ..." - it's a great and atmospheric opening, I think. The music then turns into full sounds nicely with keyboard takes the lead melody. And .. oh man . when the part enters this passage: "You wouldn't speak to me / I would be left behind / We'd be through if you knew / All the things in my mind .." and the music that follows is really SUPERB! It does remind me to the music of Gentle Giant at its best! Quite honest, this track was the one that made me willing to have another spin of this CD. The drumming is marvelous! There is some exploration of orchestra in some transitions. Really wonderful!!! I think all Gentle Giant freaks would be amazed by this track. I think and I am sure! This is a wonderful composition!

All on a Sunday

I consider this is a ballad rock tune with nice organ / keyboard work that sometimes remind me to Procol Harum style of organ. The music flows straight forwardly with a very minimum variation in style and mood. It's a good track but not essential.

Goodbye To Yesterdays

It's another ballad and nice song opened with acoustic guitar. I think Neal is better singing in this low register note. It reminds me to "The Distance to The Sun" track of the bands "Day for Night" album.

The Great Nothing

Considering the long duration (27:18) of this epic, I expect a lot before enjoying it. It comprises 6 parts. It opens with an ambient sounds followed with an acoustic guitar fills. Nice opening. The music then enters in medium tempo with bass guitar take the lead for the beats and drum as keeper of the bars. When organ starts soaring, Dave performs his dynamic bass guitar work. The vocal enters in quieter passage with only piano (and bit of bass guitar) accompany it. The music turns slowly into faster tempo. I do enjoy when it reaches approx. min 8 when the keyboard / organ takes its solo (and effects!) combined with great bass line. Great work, Ryo and Neal! I really enjoy it. The smooth music then turns into an intermittent one during transition. It's a very good exploration. This epic offers a variety of styles and sounds / effects exploring all the talents the band has. A bit note here is that the guitar work of Alan has been fully explored with this track and in general. The whole album does not explore as much of Alan's fullest. It's probably the figure of Neal (who happens to be a keyboard player as well) is so central and selfish (?) that he does not allow much guitar sound in the middle of this epic. Indeed, Alan's solo concludes this epic nicely (augmented with piano).

OVERALL

I think it is embarrassing if you like prog but do not have this excellent album. Not all tracks are excellent, I think, especially those with ballad styles. But I have to admit that overall, the composition is tight and the musicianship is great. Most people said that the band's existence was highly due to the central role of Neal Morse. I don't think so. Even with the departure of Neal, they still have great sounds and composition in two albums (post Neal):"Feel Euphoria" and "Octane". Even, the band has pushed more in melodic spectrum of their composition under their latest album "Octane". Overall, I put the rating of this "V" album with 4 out of 5 rating. I would give full five star if there were no ballads and Alan's guitar work was given more. Keep on progging!

Progressively yours,

GW - Indonesia.

Gatot | 4/5 |

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