Alaska: self-titled (CD, 69:57); LifeScape Records LSAL077CD, 1998 P.O. Box 551 Dunmore, PA 18512, USA Phone: (717)346-3158 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cyberhome: http://home.earthlink.net/~alaska98 Alaska is a rare treat in many ways. On disc you swear you hear three, maybe four people but no -- this is a prog rock duo. Live, they still pull it off. You close your eyes and hear the lush expanse of sound and imagine one of those ELP, UK, Eddie Jobson's Zinc, or even Yes configurations. You look again and there is Al Lewis singing and drumming and John O'Hara buried in keys, engulfing electronics, and tap dancing in an array of pedals. You find yourself slack-jawed, shaking your head, and loving it. Best of all -- talking with these guys is a breath of fresh air. They are energetic and kind-hearted. They love the music and it comes through. And now on with the CD review . . . I've already mentioned several groups that come to mind when you hear Alaska. O'Hara can pull off anything Emerson did and emulate Jobson with ease. Lewis, an award-winning drummer in New York State Competition beats his heart out with emotive skill. He also sings quite well with strength in those difficult upper octaves. Lewis' voice calls to mind three singers. You hear Steve Perry of Journey, Jon Anderson from Olias of Sunhillow's vocals, and in places Jobson's vocals on Zinc. Lewis manages to pull off decent acoustic guitar in a few spots. You won't find testosterone-laden guitar riffing nor any fusion. This is symphonic, prog, art rock at it's 1990's best. Their lyrics are gripping, soul-stirring, calls to action, and intelligent reflections on deep things. Lewis truly shines on "Reason To Wonder", an eerie composition that makes you think, and think again. All the compositions are well thought out, interesting, and executed with care and precision. Alaska's monster cut is the 11:52 "Tiananmen Square" where O'Hara cuts loose. Somebody pull him away from that synth!! It's a human rights marathon plea. On "Caring" you find one the most healing tracks I have ever heard a prog rock group record. It speaks an eternal voice of Truth. For example on "Forests of Heaven", a triumphant call to selflessness, I quote an Alaskan insight from the lyrics. "Free will's the reason the world's Creator hides." Think about it awhile. I'm there guys. Alaska is a must-hear. Get it. ~ John W. Patterson
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"Reason To Wonder" excerpt
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