Days Between Stations 2013
A study on the fragility of man and a second glorious milestone from ever-transitional duo and their heavy guests.
This American band’s self-titled debut caused a soft stir in prog circles with its alchemical melding of sophisticated moves and immediate melodicism. Its follow-up takes the tantalizing template even further and branches out from that album’s “Requiem For The Living” into one’s curtain call where a glance is cast on the years that have passed. Hence the double-entendre title and a concept which sees keyboard player Oscar Fuentes Bills and guitarist Sepand Samzadeh forward their formerly tentative pop formula and make their rock elitist collaborators bend to it. Not an ASIA recipe for cooking a memorable tune, but here’s a perfect example of the extremes being reached rightly for the sake of both art and its recipient.
The first lines of “No Cause For Alarm” suggest exactly that, even though orchestral passages signal shifting time signatures rather soon, before the piano introduces the main theme – it’s an overture after all – and the soaring guitar of “In Utero” takes the listener to the very beginning of life where the trumpet blare hope and expectancy, while Tony Levin’s bass drops anxiety into the serene drift. “Blackfoot” is rippled with his stick even more, offsetting the blissful dance of ivories, as is the dobro-finished “Visionary” in which electronic percussion complements Billy Sherwood’s drums and harmonic singing, yet Colin Moulding makes the heavy, riffy subject of “The Man Who Died Two Times” quite light. Elsewhere, the appearances of Moog cast its shadow over to the transparent, tension-filled “Eggshell Man” for Rick Wakeman to pick up the baton with the fragility-defying grace as defined by Ali Nouri’s tar solo – a meeting point for Persian and Spanish cultures – and Peter Banks’ guitar vignettes.
It’s one of the last recordings by former YES-man, whose memory permeates the chamber violin’s cry in “Waltz In E Minor” – thus adding to the poignancy of “In Extremis” – and who also contributed parts to the six-part title epic which ties together all the loose ends that precede it and elevates the flow with celestially rocketing organ, rocking attack and what sounds like a coded signals underneath this veneer of tuneful racket. Classic large-scale prog looms large here yet it’s kept from leaving the stratosphere by a choir and the brass: it’s all about the personal connection and human touch at the end of the day. And DAYS BETWEEN STATIONS reach out there with a graceful poise.