Esoteric Antenna 2013
A vibrant union of two kindred spirits throwing the chamber out their window.
The “like father, like son” maxim seems to be easily applicable to Oliver Wakeman who’s been following Rick in and out of STRAWBS and YES, and now to this collaboration with prog ‘n’ folk veteran Giltrap, but the younger keyboards wizard plays it differently. His manner strikingly close to that of Wakeman Sr.’s whose 2010’s linkup with Gordon, “From Brush And Stone”, didn’t really gel, the two masters’ vignettes rather complementing each other. Here, though, the alchemy works up a philosopher’s rock which, with instrumental passages expectedly exquisite, is shaped with songs to the fore.
Not a concept album per se, closer “Ravens Will Fly Away”, careening to the maudlin mire as all goodnight ballads do, connects on the lyrical level with the riff-rubbing “Is This the Last Song I Write?” lifted by the soulful vocals of ARENA’s Paul Manzi, and a harmonies-harnessed “Anyone Can Fly”, topped with Giltrap’s soaring solo. Yet one can’t escape from hard stanzas of the organ-fuelled “Credit Carnival”, and once the actual agenda allocates guitar strum and synthesizers’ wave in “Moneyfacturing”, there’s a contrast between light melodies and heavy subject matter of finance vs. feelings, plus a symphonic suspicion that “From The Turn Of A Card”, written by Oliver while in YES and eloquently voiced by his former bandmate Benoît David, might, in fact, imply the payment medium. Still, gentle pieces such as electric, if soft, “Wherever There Was Beauty”, or “A Perfect Day”, where acoustic guitar and piano weave a Renaissance web, tug on the heart strings in equally irresistible fashion. Most sensitive souls will well up with tears of joy while spinning this; others will simply spread their wings.