Spirit of Unicorn Music 2021
Reflecting globetrotting through violin lens, English art-rocker sets out on a very varied trip down memory lane.
Lockdown might have limited some people’s wanderlust yet it elicited a burst of creativity from Darryl Way, allowing the erstwhile CURVED AIR violinist to relive, and turn into music, the reminiscences of his travels around the world. Where the pieces 2019’s "Destinations" were not, for the most part, pinpointing particular places of our planet, that platter’s follow-up will often zoom in on the map. More so, this time the veteran proposes that his listener lap up a more polished sound on the album which has a fair share of surprises in it.
And contrasts, too – especially notable when the record’s final cuts find a rather vigorous joie de vivre in stylistic transition from Ferenc Liszt to James Last, the exciting puszta panorama of “Hungarian Rhapsody” switching to the lightweight middle-of-the-road of the sole vocal-spiced number on offer. Still, the start of it all lies in “Alhambra Knights” whose exquisitely stormy passages and entrancing groove get trimmed with heavy riffs and flamenco lace – woven by Way on guitar – the grandeur picked up further down the line once the serenity of “Rio Grande” unrolls a brass-caressed vista or when the Italian motifs rock the boat even more to float “Banquet Of The Vanities” to Florence.
Scintillating Gallic merriment oozing out of “Café De Paris” that marries love affairs to bandstand memories in front of orchestral backdrop, and galloping grace filling “Colombian Gold” with folk filigree of Latin stripe, the span of the veteran’s embrace of ethnic genres can’t fail to impress. But if there’s electric flight lifting “Mother Earth” to romantic stratosphere on the six-string wings and blowing it higher and lower to the movements of Daryl’s bow, the lilting ripples of “Ocean Blues” give way to a wondrous tidal wave of progressive surf-rock, before the swampy licks of “Choctaw Ridge” stage a ruminative hoedown. And though the brisk, harmonies-flaunting “Vegas” and dramatic “Fiesta Mexicana” occupy a similar geographical space, they drastically different in sonic terms.
This variety, together with magic melodicism, is what holds the second “Destinations” together, wrapped around it like parallels and meridians are wrapped around the globe – in a magnetically fascinating, albeit natural, manner. Its tuneful gravity, therefore, is irresistible.