Steve Cochrane: The Purest of Designs (CD, 60:19); Spirit Compass Music SC103, 1998 Spirit Compass Music 6230 Starfield Crescent Mississauga, ON, L5N 1X1 CANADA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Cyberhome: www.globalserve.net/~spiritcompass This is music for the idealist, the dreamer, the stalwart visionary, and for those that hope against all odds -- Man is his own savior? Your call. Cochrane weaves a tapestry of guitars and vocals in a didactic call for humanity to awake, to search their hearts for tenderness. His stylings are very Steve Hackett and Steve Howe-ish, (in places). I heard that Roine Stolt, (The Flower Kings), melodic tone and phrasings on "When Music Speaks". Cochrane's compositions are interesting prog rock with New Age leanings, especially in the lyrics. There is fine guitar work splashed in every song, tasteful synth icing, and decent vocals. Cochrane has put together 11 tracks that mesh nicely. The 7-part, 27:26 suite, "Song For Spring" is a pinnacle moment for Cochrane, a realization of a musical vision many years overdue. Unfortunately, I predict many folks are going to be in some dismay over a "high sucrose-sappy- happy factor" on two songs when Cochrane urges us to talk to flowers and listen to the "lonely weed" that "begs our pardon". I'm a "tree-hugger" from way back, camper, hiker, landscape artist, Forestry School graduate, and love the Creation with the depths of my being. But . . . I am put off immediately when I'm told, "Do be kind to the flower, every minute and every hour". Such late '60s pop lyricism falls short. I cease my jabbing. Bravo! Final track, "The Promise of the Music", a 15:50 offering is the album's strongest moment. With wonderful Anthony Phillipsian acoustic guitar and swelling synth interplay, a deeply moving experience only grows finer with Hackett-style electric guitar drones being layered on the listener. Now if Cochrane can stick to this type of instrumental work, lose the Mother Earth, Gaia pacifist lyrics, and play his soul-fired dreams through the guitar and synths -- he will become a progressive voice to reckoned with. Overall, a strong release is found here. ~ John W. Patterson
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