Colin Masson, Isle of Eight (Hi-Note) Cyberhome: Hi-Note Music Isle of Eight is a very respectable album created almost entirely by guitarist Masson, who also plays bass, recorder, percussion, keyboards, and trombone, produced the album, and did the artwork. However, the album is by no means overly self-indulgent, even with its three 10+ minute tracks. Throughout, Masson creates memorable moods, textures, and melodies. The sound of the record is quite neo-proggy at times, with bright production and generally lush, sometimes mysterious, sound. Masson makes things most interesting when he injects a bit of Celtic or Renaissance influence (love those Gryphon-esque recorder parts) into the mix. Even without these more obvious cultural references, the album seems to have an ancient British Isles vibe. In general, the compositions travel like the boat on the albums cover, halfway between darkness and light, but pleasant in either realm. Isle of Eight main detraction is its tendency to lapse into a cheesy, New Age vibe. While never done too glaringly, this put me off all the same (and New Age music was among the first I ever seriously listened to!). Most fans of neo-prog, or, of course, New Age music won't be bothered, but others may find it unbearable. At his best, Masson guides a wonderful musical tour through a lush, ancient landscape, at his worst, he sounds like the background music for a commercial for such a tour. Many may not mind too much, however. ~Jon Dharma Murphree~
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