Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Patchwork Cacophony picture
Patchwork Cacophony biography
A pianist since he was young but shunned by local rock bands because real rock bands don't have keyboards, Ben perfected the trick of playing other instruments convincingly enough to get through an audition. Once in a band, and with the aid of some educational Deep Purple records, he would usually make the case for introducing keyboards into the line-up after all.

In 2007 a chance remark about progressive rock to guitarist Colin Dawson led to them starting a writing project that would eventually become Fusion Orchestra 2. Over the next seven years Ben composed, played keyboards and sang backing vocals in the band, and produced their studio recordings including their 2013 debut album, Casting Shadows.

It was during this time that he began to assemble ideas for his own solo album, Patchwork Cacophony. After a few aborted attempts to recruit musicians to record on the album he decided to take the label solo album literally and, harking back to his early days of learning whatever instrument a band he wanted to join needed, he recorded all the parts and instruments himself. With other non-progressive projects still in mind Ben opted to use PATCHWORK CACOPHONY for the "band" name as well.

A self-confessed musical workaholic (with no inclinations towards rehab), Ben Bell's other side-projects include playing keyboards and vocals for contemporary classic rock band Broken Parachute and scoring sound tracks for Colourful Productions' occasional animations.

As one might imagine, the music of PATCHWORK CACOPHONY is heavily keyboard driven and shows the influence of past masters. The lush arrangements and instrumentation however do not come off as retro. Recommended for fans melodic, keyboard-centric, symphonic rock.


*Thanks to Ben Bell for the main body of this biography with minor additions from H.T. Riekels

Patchwork Cacophony official website

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY MP3, Free Download (music stream)


Open extended player in a new pop-up window | Random Playlist (50) | How to submit new MP3s
No MP3/Stream available for this artist.
Collaborate with Progarchives.com, learn how to submit new MP3s.

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY forum topics / tours, shows & news


PATCHWORK CACOPHONY forum topics
No topics found for : "patchwork cacophony"
Create a topic now
PATCHWORK CACOPHONY tours, shows & news Post an entries now

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to PATCHWORK CACOPHONY

Buy PATCHWORK CACOPHONY Music


Five of CupsFive of Cups
Patchwork Studios
Audio CD$15.99

More places to buy PATCHWORK CACOPHONY music online Buy PATCHWORK CACOPHONY & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
PATCHWORK CACOPHONY has no upcoming shows, according to LAST.FM syndicated events and shows feed

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.41 | 12 ratings
Patchwork Cacophony
2014
3.87 | 10 ratings
Five of Cups
2016

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

PATCHWORK CACOPHONY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Five of Cups by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 10 ratings

BUY
Five of Cups
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Patchwork Cacophony's 2016 album is FIVE OF CUPS and is once again a polished production of symphonic prog mastered by Ben Bell. Bell plays most instruments but is joined by vocalist Emily Bell, and guitarists Tim Hall and Marcus Taylor.

This latest release is a concept album about fairy tales mimicking life until the fairy tale dies and reality sets in; people chase rainbows which is a dream never realised and finally we live happily ever after, as long as we don't spend our future looking backwards because you don't get a chance to press rewind, rather you must wake up and live for today. A good message and one I can relate to.

The music is permeated with lashings of Hammond organ which is a sheer delight. Mellotron and synth provide a soothing scape and there are layers of guitars.

The opening 16 minute multi movement suite is an epic in 4 parts. It is a beautiful adventure into instrumental breaks fractured by vocal parts and progressive time signatures.

There are some excellent songs on this album. Choices is a highlight with slamming Hammond and wonderful vocals.

The 9 minute mini epic Every Day is also a great track with haunting piano motif and captivating lyrics. The bass line is also well executed. The extended break has a progressive feel that locks into an odd sig sounding like Camel or Eloy. Glorious reverberating Hammond pounds in, and I love that swirling synth. Then it moves back to the main melody. Definitely the best track at this point.

Chasing Rainbows has a rhythm akin to Yes' Roundabout. Later it moves to a piano concerto interlude. Ben Bell is great on keyboards.

From a Spark is a pretty keyboard instrumental with a piano waltz sig. I like the flourishes up and down the keys like Keith Wakemans style.

Brand New Day closes proceedings with a 12 minute mega track. Opening with a shimmering Hammond and then breaking into a strong rhythm. The lyrics are thought provoking about the years passing by, missing the chance and losing the dream once the moment is gone. Yet if we wake up and stop worrying about yesterday we can embrace a brand new day, with new dreams and new hopes. I love that message, it's uplifting and soul stirring. The music is also uplifting here, a catchy melody locks in before an instrumental break dominated by piano motifs and synth lines. The tempo quickens as hope is injected. At 6 minutes the music stops and reverberates into an ethereal hum and lonely piano. The melancholy atmosphere builds into a steady rhythm and the vocals conclude your story's halfway through, but you have more chapters left to write. Life goes on. The music continues with Hammond chops and guitar embellishes building into a final statement.

Overall FIVE OF CUPS is a great album with a positive message. There is enough here to recommend it to those who like melodic prog and especially if you're a Hammond addict like me. Grab this one and see for yourself.

 Five of Cups by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 10 ratings

BUY
Five of Cups
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Multi-instrumentalist Ben Bell is back with a follow up album to 2014's self-titled debut "Patchwork Cacophony", with a definite upgrade in terms of consolidating his impressive skills and pushing the envelope even further. "Five of Cups" is a thrilling progressive ride that features superlative keyboard technique, highlighted by piano and organ work that definitely is world class , as well as showcasing Ben's rather impressive vocals skills, which can run the gamut from Roger Hodgson-like sweetness to a more pronounced tone a la Guy Manning. Different moods, alternate feel and deeply personal music.

This new release opens up with a four part epic suite 'Fairytale" that seeks to set the mood for what is to come. The organ-driven "Once Upon a Time" is a fine example of what Ben can do both on his keyboards as well as vocally, further delivered by a multi-faceted keyboard section ("The Wonder of It All" ) that infuses piano, organ, synths and mellotron, in a very Supertramp-ish display that pleases the ear. The gorgeous piano etude "Life is not a Fairytale" has aromas of Frederic Chopin, liquefied ivory pearls that would make Rick Wakeman blush with jealousy. Vocally, Ben hits all kinds a lofty high notes with apparent ease, making this section quite a cracker, drenched in a placid melancholia!

The sprawling "Choices" is a straight forward, organ fueled piece that also incorporates rollicking piano sections and off-kilter drum fills with Ben singing with a sense of urgency (the Manning reference), the Hammond solo seeking to touch emotionally rather that technically, with background choir to add to the suspense. "Closer, closer and closer"?he intones.

The slick "Counting Chickens" suggest a different tangent altogether, jumpy piano leading the way in an instrumental showcase that hints at Geoff Downes' New Dance Orchestra or Alan Parsons Project, something he did on the previous album as well on the track "Dance". The bass guitar takes in a brief ray of the spotlight, fluttering rather effectively below the synth lead, leading the intricate web of keyboards into a majestic foray of sound and delicacy. Definitely a climactic track.

"Maybe" has the guest guitar of Marcus Taylor rasping ahead of the Bell onslaught, a rather rockier affair that has an overt dissonance not unlike Gentle Giant, the focus on the slippery guitar solo and the raspy, bluesy vocal that hints at Mike Patto (Spooky Tooth) . This is definitely not an overtly polished affair, which gives it a sense immediacy and natural flow that is most welcome.

The 9 minute "Everyday" is a wistful slice of what Ben does best, a temperate sonic zephyr guided by windswept lead and backing vocals, a serene pulse adorned with twinkling piano ripples and a permeating prog essence. Placid, hypnotic and deeply melancholic, this is perhaps the finest moment on the album, insistent synths lines a la Manfred Mann fighting with Hammond organ bravado. Utterly delicious.

Changing the pace with "Chasing Rainbows" was dynamically a good move but it's the only weak moment here, initially starting out as a simplistic song that would have benefited with a less sharper tone but that is only my opinion. That being said the piano and bass work make up for the lack of dynamism as the piano solo mid-section is drop-dead gorgeous and most unexpected. Ben struggles a bit with the vocal on occasion, which is not an easy one to begin with, demanding some acrobatics that may have proven to be too difficult to master.

Never one to falter, the all-piano jewel "From a Spark" reverts to an insanely beautiful passage that rekindles classical music of the highest order, a scintillating piece of memorable melody and dexterous playing. Loaded with elongated chords that resonate deeply, this is a masterful and never dull gem of a piece, stamping his talent as undeniable.

A nice epic farewell ends this opus, offering up the dozen minutes of the ELP tinged "Brand New Day" , having saved this fluid melancholy 'for a rainy day', adorned by rumbling bass undertow, fluffy piano undulations and eccentric guitar showcase. Tim Hall is another guest guitarist, who gets to unleash a long and furious solo that spirals, weaves, loops and swerves perfectly, the Hammond giving a strong push forward. Great finale.

As mentioned by other reviewers, Patchwork Cacophony is a very personal, under polished progressive rock manifestation that might not appeal to the overtly technical production fans but its deeply honest, heartfelt and well meaning. The slight and very occasional weaknesses here and there only serve to underline the true nature of Ben Bell's muse and craft. This is no 'cacophony' and definitely not 'patchwork'. On the other hand, if you are looking for perfection, good luck.

Lastly, the artwork is absolutely spectacular, making this a thoroughly entertaining package.

4 mugs

 Five of Cups by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 10 ratings

BUY
Five of Cups
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

3 stars Take 2 for Ben Bell and his Patchwork (and certainly not!) Cacophony alter ego. As with the debut album, ''Five of Cups'' builds on 70's progressive (and here a bit more on classic) rock. Keyboards being Ben's instrument, one could not but expect that this sophomore release is very keyboard-driven. And that is actually very pleasant to my ears.

There are two main moods here: one is the melodic, sophisticated piano-driven, clearly shown in the instrumental highlights ''Counting Chickens'' (with a hefty dose of Mike Oldfield-ian passages) and the more classical-music inspired ''From a Spark''; the second is a much rockier/more maverick approach which ties in with Ben's vocals in a similar vein. See for example the dance-like ''Choices'' and ''Chasing Rainbows'' and ''Maybe'' with bluesy and rock-n-roll glimpses filtered through a prog lens of (mainly) Gentle Giant with sparkles of Genesis and Pink Floyd.

The sound is (pleasantly) dominated by a very characteristic hammond organ, which seems to be Ben's trademark. It is this that provides a bit of uniqueness to the sound and some welcome nostalgia. With it comes the ''rough-around-the-edges'' and DIY feeling that was also apparent in the debut album. I guess this works to an extent as the album comes out as a very honest effort of musical expression and not necessarily to impress. This may slightly disappoint the listener looking for a polished production.

Where everything meets is the opening epic ''Fairytale'' which is probably the most intricate and interesting of the compositions (Gentle Giant, Genesis and Beardfish all dancing together) with plenty of mood variations, reminding me of ''Brinkmanship'' from Ben's debut. Although the debut sounds a tad proggier than ''Five of Cups'', there are individual moments here that may surpass it in quality. Another very good release from Patchwork Cacophony that boasts of determined musicianship. Worth a try.

3.5 stars

 Five of Cups by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 10 ratings

BUY
Five of Cups
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by PH

5 stars PATCHWORK CACOPHONY is not a band as such, but the solo-project of very talented musician, songwriter and singer Ben Bill who has managed to do all himself in a classy and professional way. The use of piano, Hammond organ, Rhodes, Mellotron, Roland, Tambourine, cowbell, acoustic and electric guitars, fretless bass, drums could give you clues to its direction. After favorable comments on the eponymous CD two years back, Ben comes up with a second offer titled 'Five Of Cups'. The material contained therein, is reminiscent of symphonic prog luminaries from the 70's epoch. This new embodiment of retro-sound melds diverse ingredients into fantastic combination that's built around improvisational prowess and emotive singing. So, welcome to the show which begins with 16+ min. epic 'Fairytale'. Accentuating the events that should unfold, the lengthy track is comprised of four sequential parts: 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?', 'Once Upon A Time', 'The Wonder Of It All' and 'Life Is Not A Fairytale'. Every piece on this puzzle bears the mark of exceptional mastership, to impress anyways. A genuine Floyd-ism crops up initially. Though, instead of Gilmour-like passages, what emerges soon is a stylish piano accompaniment, leading up to the occurrence of grand keyboards alongside rhythm throbs and undercurrent guitar work. Counter-melodies are mixed to lead vocals and lovely harmonies. Thus, the things turn into a wholly different pattern (one might suggest a reference to Cressida). Some minutes later, Bram Stoker gets the homage - with intention to move toward a soothing, five-minute conclusion that has the exquisite traits of Supertramp. Ben Bell's vocals convey much of passion. Just to leave you pondering a scale of virtuosity, the intricate 'Choices' delivers the vintage fashion a'la Keith Emerson, modified for the musical fabric of Patchwork Cacophony. The arrangements focus on ELP- allusion creating an overall effect upon which the sundry colours dance and play. The instrumental tune 'Counting Chickens' switches to realm of Alan Parsons Project. This one is followed by mid-tempo 'Maybe'. Yet again, there're echoes of Pink Floyd here. The guitar excursion of special guest, Marcus Taylor, succeeds to help the flame burning. Full of contrasts, 'Every Day' is another surprise. It sounds like a joining of Pink Floyd, Manfred Mann's Earth Band and Genesis (in their prime). The glorious keyboards are still front and center delivering a great performance. Next up, 'Chasing Rainbows' which tends to a principle of vigorous couplets followed by sedate refrains. The perfectly timed piano interlude guarantees a touching moment within the texture. Melodically fabulous instrumental 'From A Spark' has a sheer classical flavor, being perhaps a nod to Frederic Chopin. It's a soft kind of music that glides gently into ears and slithers into brain, taking up residence. Awesome!.. The album reaches its worthy final with an expansive composition 'Brand New Day'. Returning to the ELP legacy and adding occasional flashes of Rick Wakeman, Patchwork Cacaphony provides the varying hues of Camel, while the skilful Tim Hall injects his guitar solo. And for sure, the memorable voice of Ben Bell is an important factor. Sum up. Devotees of the progressive rock groups mentioned above, must be among the first to give this new release very serious consideration. Those aficionados who appreciate CD 'Pilgrimage' by the British band Pilgrym, will enjoy CD 'Five Of Cups' too.. Check it out!
 Five of Cups by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 10 ratings

BUY
Five of Cups
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by The Jester

4 stars Benjamin Bell is an English songwriter, keyboard player and multi-instrumentalist, and the mastermind behind Patchwork Cacophony, which is his personal project. Patchwork Cacophony released its debut album in 2014 and that was the first time I listened to their name and music. It was a mostly instrumental, keyboard-driven album, with nice melodic passages and some pretty interesting compositions. Currently, 2 years later since that release, Patchwork Cacophony is back with a new album, named Five of Cups. The official release date of the album was set for November 7th, and as far as I know, it will be available in digital and physical format respectively. Trying to compare these two albums, I must say that Five of Cups is a more "serious" and "mature" work. The compositions are better, more complexed (in a listenable way), and the overall outcome is better. Also, this time Ben is singing in most of the tracks. The album opens with the 16-minute-long Fairytale, a melodic and "proggy" composition in 4 parts which offers an initial idea of what is going to follow. And what follows is a well-structured album with lots of piano/keys stuff, beautiful melodies and memorable passages. Fairytale is followed by Choices, a rather "catchy" tune, which can be used as the album''s "hit" song. Then Counting Chickens comes; the only song that reminded me of Ben''s previous album. The next song is Maybe, is a rock tune, not based on keyboards, but including a beautiful guitar work instead. Another "catchy" tune. Every Day is one of my favourite songs from this album. A 9-minute long song, kind of melancholic, but so beautiful... Chasing Rainbows is an upbeat tune, which in my opinion is the "weakest" song of the album. It includes some nice moments, here and there, but nothing special. From the Spark is an instrumental piano tune, which is absolutely wonderful! A dreamy and melodic composition that I can't stop listening to! The album's final song is the 12-minute long Brand New Day which, along with Fairytale, constitute the "proggiest" songs of the album. One of my favourites without a doubt. So, let's sum up. Five of Cups is a really good and serious album, suitable for listeners with "open earminds"! It includes beautiful moments, some dreamy and melancholic tunes, and some rock and easy listening moments. The compositions are improved in comparison with the previous album and this is definitely a sign that Benjamin Bell is moving forward. All those who enjoyed Ben''s debut album should buy Five of Cups without a second thought. As for those who don't know him, maybe it is time to discover him and his music. My rating would be 3.5 out of 5.0 stars. Kudos to Ben! And once more: Why we can't have the option of giving half points as ratings? It is real pitty!
 Patchwork Cacophony by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.41 | 12 ratings

BUY
Patchwork Cacophony
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ben Bell might be an unknown name in prog circles, but belive me he is one great keyboard player that worth to be discovered worldwide. Around 2007 he got the chance to play with Fusion Orchestra 2 on their debut Casting shadows from 2013 - a reincarnation of Fusion Orchestra (a good british band from early '70s) revived by Colin Dawson. Soon after he begun to work on his solo album and the first offer was out in 2014 named Patchwork cacophony. The album is quite good from start to finish, with nice shifting keyboards arrangements and pleasent yet nothing spectacular vocal parts. I can say that Patchwork cacophony is heavy keyboard driven prog yet quite melodic in many parts, combining symphonic prog with crossover prog, jazzy interplays, all done with taste. Lush arrangements and instrumental sections are far better then the vocals, if it was entirely instrumental I would give a higher rate. Anyway to me the second half of the album is better, meaning Dawn Light" suite covering almost 30 min of great playing and intresting instrumental melodic duels. A nice discovery for me after I've listen to Fusion Orchestra 2, Ben Bell worth to be more known in prog circles , his debut and contribution on Fusion Orchestra 2 is without doubt more then pleasent to my ears. 3.5 stars for sure. Nice intresting art work and booklet.

 Patchwork Cacophony by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.41 | 12 ratings

BUY
Patchwork Cacophony
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

3 stars My first acquaintance with Ben Bell's work was back in 2013 with the "debut" album of Fusion Orchestra 2, an excellent example of long heavy progressive rock compositions. Here Ben takes it on his own to create a much more symphonic progressive rock album, keyboard-laden and mostly instrumental.

For a one-man job, Patchwork Cacophony is impressive, full of original ideas, talented keyboard playing and two major moods: the dreamy (even spacey) 70's symphonic rock side (mainly influenced by Genesis) and another, much more jazz/funky one, which counterbalances the melody with more dynamic passages and keyboard lines. Ben experiments with all sorts of keyboard sounds, from moog to organ, piano and so on. See for example the "trouble-free" No U-Turn, a tune to accompany you to your summer drives across the coast. The two moods interchange often and the track lengths as well, offering the right amount of variation.

Dance of the Fleet-Footed Heffalumps does what it says: a folksy/dreamy atmosphere on acoustic guitar and flute driven sounds, perhaps somewhere in the middle of the woods with Gryphon lurking in the background; Nylons for Parot flows in a similar vein, proving a nice interlude before the multi-part Dawn Light. Brinkmanship is perhaps the highlight with a playful main theme which does not tire, no matter how many times it is repeated. It follows a melodic piano intro, similar to how the album opens in Sketch of a Day. In fact the two tracks are very similar in the way they evolve, with the former being the flagship of the funky side of Ben and the latter the more melodic, Genesis-inspired, earning even more points by its grandiose ending.

The Dawn Light suite starts off with an Eloy-inspired theme but continues with two parts accompanied by Ben's vocals, in a mid-tempo rocking background, the more impressive of the two being No Time. The jumps between reprises and rock tunes continues throughout the duration of the suite, with Scorched Earth taking me by surprise by its dynamic, swinging keyboard riff. The underlying Deep Purple influence is confirmed in the melodic hard rock tune Final Sunset; I would expect you be up and dancing by now, while the Purple/Heep organ solos rage on. Not a very coherent suite all in all, but certainly with enjoyable moments.

Apart from the excellent keyboard work and surprisingly good performance on vocals, the rest of the instrumentation/arrangements are fairly basic and are there to support, rather than create, with the drum arrangements perhaps in need of the most improvement. However, this does not affect the professional work produced in this album. This is the second album I get to listen to this year that has such a high level of keyboard talent and ideas, the other being Unreal City's sophomore release.

Is it the era of keyboards? We shall see - this is certainly a great way to start a solo career.

3.5 stars. Highlights: Brinkmanship, No Time, Scorched Earth, Final Sunset

 Patchwork Cacophony by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.41 | 12 ratings

BUY
Patchwork Cacophony
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars My honorable colleague, compatriot and confidant, mellotronstorm suggested to Ben Bell, the man behind Patchwork Cacophony to send me a copy of his debut album in order to evaluate it, perhaps with more affinity than John did, as he gave an honest and appreciative review and felt that I would be perhaps a better suitor to trumpet the merits of this album. And he was right! Not really surprising in light of our past and current relationship that lives on, in suggestive anecdotes (musically. Hey!) propelled by the urge in stretching prog's bountiful borders. Thank you, Mr. Davie!

Yeah, this is my kind of progressive rock album, seduced by an opening piano motif that lights up the epic 16 minute introduction to keyboard-driven bliss, a majestic and adventurous layering of softer and wilder sections, extremely melodic and exploratory. The way keyboard prog should be, virtuoso and 'soundscapist', pushing the boundaries that have illuminated our genre and help it to survive. Ben is a wicked player, a mix of Gary Wright and Manfred Mann on the synths, as well as a classically-trained pianist that hints at two Ricks, Wakeman and Davies of Supertramp fame. "Sketch of a Day" is a thrill, a track that will demand repeat listens. The bright opening piano segment could easily have been part of 'Fool's Overture', a rather lusty but deserved accolade, as it slowly builds into a more symphonic piece, boisterous synthesizers sliding into the midst, mellotron in support, yet maintaining the focus on the piano at all times. There are some clever choir-likes crescendos that expand the orchestral grandeur and give a lot of depth and creative lineage to the piece. A melancholic piano waves a solemn good bye towards the setting sun. A truly satisfying opening salvo that bodes well for the ensuing set of tracks, particularly the lengthier arrangements.

Two mini-stylistic presentations are in order, "No U-turn" is a playful ditty, Ben Bell trying out his Booker T organ lessons and succeeding nicely. It's pleasurable, unpretentious, almost boogie-woogie progressive with synthesized mayhem and a melodica-led theme. "Dance"is a lighter, similarly brief piece that is fluffier, something Geoff Downes would do with his New Dance Orchestra, and I enjoyed the playful mechanisms that envelop the listener, a feel-good sense that is quite graceful.

But the true measure of the album remains pointed at the more successful longer tracks, so its back to another long one, the 11 minute "Brinkmanship" , a stellar ride that is quite an anomaly in that its seems so fresh and exuberant. The classically tinged piano spearheads the remaining keyboards (organ and synth) to assault the senses and create a rather bombastic, modern sounding mini-opus. The drums are kept in the background and there is nothing extravagant about the keys being so front and center. The 'ooh' backing choir thickens the plot and pads the thick mellotron mattresses while the boogie piano is once again in the spotlight. There are some Emerson/Wakeman winks as well as a few nods to Jon Lord (the organ work), the piece's development is an all-keyboard affair again, with multiple visits and revisits.

The breezy pastoral air of "Nylons for Parot" is an another nice 2 minute intermezzo, with the acoustic guitar taking up the slack and sugaring the road ahead with some delightful vibes as the segue into the album's core is next and last up, the titanic 26 minute "Dawn Light" suite. This heavenly ivory-laden behemoth is broken down into nine nimble sections, with the wind-swept synths leading the gorgeous "Prelude", a perfect electronic opener that would make even the great Vangelis envious. On the next section "Changes in the Air", the piano hogs the stage again, with Ben Bell's voice supplying some drama to the worried lyrics, as the drums muscle onward. The jumpier "No Time" has a jagged edge, brusque and raging when need be, steered by bruising bass and relentless organ flurries, Ben Bell's reedy voice has tinges of Guy Manning and gives the lyrics some meaning. The brief piano "Reprise" has a child-like innocence that cannot go unnoticed, as it's utterly compelling. "We Can't Stay" slings into another direction quite unexpectedly, fusing incorrigible Gentle Giant-like counterpoint vocal harmonies and once again giving the stage to some deft piano work. It's fabulous for me but I can see why mellotronstorm would cringe a little bit. On "Rest my Feet", Bell intones his exasperated exhaustion convincingly, a subtle vocal and sterling piano accompaniment that makes this wee section a real treasured highlight. Contrast that with the squeaky insanity shown on the aptly-titled "Scorched Earth", featuring a squirming synth that is just out of this world, voice effects in the background! Now elevate that to a higher notch with the propulsive attack on the 6 minute ramble "Final Sunset", a featured e-piano solo that has a busy clavinet sound to boot, a great slice of intricate keyboard-driven prog rock. His Manning-tinged voice does well again, reaching high spots that are confusingly adroit, under the circumstances. The suite ends with the melancholic grandeur of "Twilight Procession" and that is exactly what is conveyed, a sense of gentle accomplishment and a keen eye on the road ahead.

Though showing a few 'raw' moments (which I happen to admire a lot in a debut work), there is a huge talent at play here, an artist that has successfully displayed his craft and can only get even better with his next effort, perhaps finding instrumental partners that may heighten the already lofty stylistics at hand here. The lengthy pieces are superb entertainment and underline a quality musical mind at work. The piano playing is thunderous and the sound is majestic.

4 makeshift discords

 Patchwork Cacophony by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.41 | 12 ratings

BUY
Patchwork Cacophony
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Patchwork Cacophony is the new album envisioned by multi instrumentalist Ben Bell, featuring 14 tracks, 9 of which encompass the epic 'Dawn Light', and mastered by Peter Maher. The CD comes with a nicely illustrated book including some quirky portraits by Candy Medusa that represent the instrumental content, such as a plucky parrot perched like a plectrum on an acoustic guitar and two roosters going head to head about to press the red button to prevent a fox from devouring the other, or are they? One may ascertain that the red button releases a trap door for the other rooster to fall into the fox's gaping maw. But if they press at the same time both are certainly doomed. Included also is a delightful piece of artwork with two elephants swinging from trees adorned by a spider in a hat, forest animals dancing, ladybirds and the tired old fox sleeping beneath the trees - perhaps sleeping it off after dining on the gullible roosters. This wonderful artwork represents the whimsical track 'Dance of the Fleet-footed Heffalumps', a title reminiscent of the imaginative books of Dr Seuss.

I like the way that each song is represented by some information to alert the listener to the type of music that is being experienced and the inspiration behind each track is outlined on Bell's liner notes. The lyrics are also included and this is always a nice touch and really helps to enhance the enjoyment of the album.

The album is primarily a solo effort though had some input from others in an inspirational sense. Bell plays such instruments as piano, Hammond organ, Profit 08 synthesiser, Clavia Nord Stage, Yamaha TG55, Mellotron, drums and cymbals, fretless and fretted bass, electric and acoustic guitars, jam blocks, Timbales, congas, cowbells, telephone bells, kazoo, nylon brushes, tin cans, jingle scarves, tambourines and all vocals and multitracked voices including the Fabled Choir of Doom.

It opens with a 16 minute piece 'Sketch of a Day' that bounces between piano and synth lines with lush Mellotron washes cascading over. It builds gradually into a heavy percussive treatment. Layer upon layer of keyboards melt together with tasteful bass and drums. The organic sound and focus on piano is reminiscent of Rick Wakeman in many respects. It is very complex and dense in structure and features a grand finale of synth soaked flames flickering brightly over a choral section, Pink Floyd majesty shining through. A grandiose start to the album and one of the highlights for sure.

'No U-Turn' has a melodica instrument that bounces merrily over an effective baseline. The exuberant melody is upbeat and frolics over Hammond stabs and strong drum beats. The happy Organ sound is akin to the early Keith Emerson style of ELP.

'Dance of the Fleet-footed Heffalumps' has a flute synth and lush mellotron washes. It is a bright sound helped by acoustic vibrations. The deep bass synths are effective too in this short but loveable piece.

'Brinkmanship' opens with well executed piano played with classical flair. The rhythm kicks in with bass and drums and then a synth plays the fractured melody. This has a more progressive rhythmic feel. The catchy tune is accessible after a while and this may be one of the more memorable tracks on offer. It changes time sig and moves into a fast cadence with some wonderful keyboard finesse. The Hammond blazes over piano staccato notes and then settles into a slow melancholy steady rhythm. The sound reminded me of Procol Harum the way the Hammond organ shimmers and prominent piano is ever present. One of my favourites from this album; almost 11 minutes in length and a masterful track.

'Nylons for Parot' is a guitar laden piece with synth pads; short and to the point like a Steve Howe acoustic workout. Originally written for piano the piece works as a transition between the mini epic previous and the huge epic to come.

'Dawn Light' is an epic suite of over 26 minutes broken into many sections. This is where the album changes gears and features some spacey synths and thought provoking lyrics. In 'Change is in the Air' the verse opens with "Dawn light grows as darkness yields, sunshine falls on golden fields, all the signs of a normal day, but something pulls my mind away, can you feel a change is in the air?" The vocals are welcome after all the instrumentation. They are mixed rather low with the hypnotic piano motif taking centre stage. A synth with a retro sound enters and lifts the atmosphere.

The song 'No Time' has the repeated verse like a mantra "no time to think things over, no time to watch and wait, grab a bag and travel late, it'll all be over if we hesitate." Again the song is dominated by a keyboard motif that locks in the brain. The organ solo is enjoyable and upbeat. The Hammond quivers are fabulous and the runs that rumble add a sense of dramatic tension. It's a pity it fades out rather than segues seamlessly to the next track as this is far more effective.

'We Can't Stay' has lyrics that question our position at the crossroads when facing decisions "Where are we going? The pace is slowing, can we all slow down now? can we stop and wait? Are we nearly there yet because it's getting late." Such lyrics cause us to ponder on life itself, searching for answers and whether it is safe to go home, or travel forward or turn back. In any case it makes the point we cannot stay the way we are because it is not going to work; we must go one way or the other. I think many listeners can relate to this state of being. The lyrics resonate with me on a personal level also. The piano is played with some heavy handed stabs. The best is uptempo and the vocal style is multi layered though a bit too high in the vocal register at times. I wasn't as taken in by the vocals here but I liked the jaunty melodic sound of the keyboards.

The melancholy sound of stripped back piano and soulful vocals is on 'Rest my Feet'. It slows the pace considerably. Sounding slightly like

'Scorched Earth' is an instrumental with organ crunches and fast tempo switches. The odd dialogue is a mystery to me but seems to fit in okay.

The epic concludes with 'Final Sunset' with lyrics that come full circle but this time the sentiment is "Are we looking at the final sunset? Are we coming to the end of the line? Are we living through the final days of the world? Is this the end of our time?" Such lyrics remind me is the early works of The Moody Blues particularly their debut album "Days of Future Passed". The rhythm is strong and fast paced. The multi tracked vocals sound good here. The epic might have been better if it had been one seamless track rather than with definite breaks between tracks. I think of the works of Caravan who always segued each track seamlessly and how great that feels when one listens to those long tracks.

Overall this is a solid album from Ben Bell with some thought provoking content and inspirational instrumental pieces. The multi movement suite of 'Dawn Light' is a definitive draw card to the album but it all culminates in an enjoyable musical experience. I believe that although it doesn't quite reach the mark of other 4 star albums I have heard this year, at least in production, it still warrants a 3 and a half star rating. I will have to round it down to 3 stars as there is room for improvement here. I hope more Patchwork Cacophony albums are forthcoming as this features some excellent material.

 Patchwork Cacophony by PATCHWORK CACOPHONY album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.41 | 12 ratings

BUY
Patchwork Cacophony
Patchwork Cacophony Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I've always said i'm a music fan not a music critic, but whenever I give 3 or less stars I feel like a critic because I have to explain why I didn't give a higher rating and that becomes the focus. So it's times like this that I dislike reviewing because Ben Bell the man behind this one-man project is very talented and ambitious and has put so much time and energy into the music he loves. It just so happens my tastes don't align with the music here for the most part.

Having said all of that if your a fan of keyboard driven music then look no further than PATCHWORK CACOPHONY. Ben plays everything on here but his speciality appears to be the various keyboards he plays like the piano, Hammond organ, Prophet '08 synthesizer, Clava Nord Stage, Yamaha TG55, and Taijiguy and Emu Classic keys mellotron samples. We're only a quarter of a way through the list of instruments he plays at this point. Wow! He composed all the music and wrote the lyrics, as well as producing and engineering this album.

"Sketch Of A Day" is the 16 minute opener and it's all instrumental with piano only to start as we get some mellotron sounds and more joining in before it kicks into full sound around 2 1/2 minutes in. Lots of keyboards and a beat standing out here. A calm with piano 5 1/2 minutes in before it turns full again before 7 minutes as themes continue to be repeated. A pretty good instrumental that gets fairly intense later on before it ends like it began. "No U-Turn" is an uptempo keyboard-led instrumental. It's okay. "Dance Of The Fleet-Footed Heffalumps" is mainly keys and picked guitar I believe. Some sampled mellotron just before a minute that is like sunshine peering through the clouds. "Brinkmanship" reminds me of CAMEL at times, I think it's the organ. Piano to start then it kicks in before a minute. This is good with that organ leading the way. It picks up before 5 1/2 minutes with piano leading then the organ starts to lead the way once again. It settles before 8 minutes then rebuilds. I like the organ late. This is my favourite song of the first half. "Nylons For Parot" is a short tune with picked guitar and tapping throughout.

Next is the "Dawn Light" suite with around 30 minutes of music over nine tracks. "Prelude" features these spacey synths ala "Lost In Space" a TV show that only us old folks will remember i'm sure. Lots of atmosphere as well. "Changes In The Air" is the first song where we get vocals. Man this song reminds me so much of DISCIPLINE. Excellent track and my favourite overall. "No Time" on the other hand is my least favourite. It has vocals as well but it just doesn't do anything for me. "Reprise" is a short song with slowly played piano throughout. "We Can't Stay" has these high pitched vocals along with an instrumental back- drop that i'm not into. "Rest My Feet" has these sparse piano melodies as laid back vocals join in. It blends into "Scorched Earth" where it picks up quickly with a fuller sound. Some spoken words as well later on. It blends into "Final Sunset" where vocals arrive then we get a keyboard solo after 1 1/2 minutes before the vocals return a minute later as contrasts continue. "Twilight Procession" ends it as we get plenty of atmosphere.

A good album no doubt but one that just doesn't have enough positives for my particular tastes in music. Keyboard fans have to check this album out!

Thanks to bhikkhu for the artist addition.

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives