Magus: Highway 375 (CD, 18:42) Sky Pines 0002 1998 Sky Pines Music 180 Mountain Home Park Brattleboro, VA 05301 Highway 375 is a 20 minute musical journey from the mind and body of multi-instrumentalist Andrew Robinson - and what an incredibly journey it is! Robinson's brand of futuristic space rock combines Porcupine Tree-style guitar riffs with his own digital synth soundscapes to excellent effect, creating music that is totally engaging and completely relaxing at the same time. The additional fact that Magus manages to make more effective use out of less than 20 minutes than most space-rock bands can do with an entire hour makes this effort even more impressive. Magus' music is never overly-complex, but it is always emotionally moving - the title track features mellow guitar passages on top of layered keyboards that invokes a total state of relaxation and serenity. Just when you've exhaled, Robinson comes at you with "Arrakis (Part 1)" - a disturbing 2 minute exercise in funeral dirge-like keyboard textures - and "Arrakis (Part 2)" - an ethereal trip featuring some very jarring discordant guitar work. Robinson obviously has great passion for Frank Herbert's epic "Dune" series of books, as these two tracks do a great job of conveying the sense of seriousness and grandeur that are the backbone of Herbert's writings. As a matter of fact, the music here actually is far superior and far more appropriate than the music that accompanied the 1980 big-screen adaptation of "Dune". Magus tastefully closes the CD with the aptly titled "Highway 375 (revisited)," which is an extension of the sonically smooth opening title track. On Highway 375, Magus/Andrew Robinson does an incredible job at exuding true feeling from his music, and I'm surprised that Magus isn't more popular in the space-rock community. Highway 375 is a great example of emotions set to music. and if he's able to keep up this level of compositional quality, the relatively unknown Robinson should enjoy a much higher-profile status in the progressive community. Attention fans: The Sleeper Has Awoken! - Michael Askounes (firstname.lastname@example.org) CREDITS: Andrew Robinson: All Instruments TRACKLIST: 1. Highway 375 (6:09) 2. Arrakis-Dune-Desert Planet (Part 1) (1:50) 3. Arrakis-Dune-Desert Planet (Part 2) (4:37) 4. Highway 375 (Revisited) (5:58)
Magus: Traveller Label: InEarVisions (distributed by Sights & Sounds). © Andrew Robinson, 1997. Email:email@example.com Web-site: http://www.mediusvision.com/magus Magus is Andrew Robinson. Not just because he writes most of the material and plays loads of instruments, but he clearly is the guy shaping the band's vision. And what is this vision, I hear you ask? A slightly schizophrenic one, I reply, though one that is also bold and imaginative. When I first put on Traveller I made the mental note "Alan Parsons Project". By the time the album was over I'd modified that to 80's King Crimson, Ozric Tentacles and even some of the more out-there space-prog/ambient crossover projects. All of which is fused with interesting sounds and ideas derived from middle-eastern world music, creating an album that makes me eager to hear more from Magus. I realize that some effort towards accessibility is a good thing, but Traveller would clearly be a much stronger effort if it's three commercially viable offerings weren't on the record. "You Know The Way", "Nostradamus" and "Into The Unknown" are merely good tracks, suffering just a bit from APP and Pink Floyd FM-friendliness. I find that they dilute the impact of the other tunes. It's the rest of the album that resonates with the voice of the band's identity, making me nod my head as Robinson and crew deliver a heady mix of spacey sonic excursions, led by Robinson's fluid and sometimes delicate guitar work, and excellent (generally) non-bombastic keyboards. The second part of "Until The Sun Burns Out" even has a spoken word narrative delivered over an ambient sea of synth pads; a fascinating contrast to the pulsing drive of the composition's first part. Who might like it? Fans of attempts to fuse world music onto prog. Prog fans who like some techno, as filtered through Ozric Tentacles for example. Fans of The Alan Parson Project's better material might get a lot out of this record. Some Gong and Hawkwind fans might also go for it. Who might dislike it? Those who are resistant to prog rock expanding to incorporate ideas from other genres, especially techniques and sounds from modern techno and world music. The best tracks: "Traveller", "Until The Sun Burns Out", "108 Steps To Babaji" and the twenty minute epic "Rif". The track that best represents Magus' style: "Traveller". Star rating: 3 out of 5. There's much to admire and explore here. Less APP/neo-Genesis would have made it a more focused offering and might well have raised this to 4 stars. Personnel: Andrew Robinson - voices, guitars, basses, bass pedals, keyboards, percussion. Debbie Moore - keyboards, backing vocals. Bryce Chicoine -- drums With: IBP - samples and programming (on "Traveller", "Khyber Pass" and "108 Steps To Babaji"). Jeff Costello - percussion (on "Khyber Pass", "Into The Unknown" and "Rif" [part III]). Paul Schonberg - feedback guitar ("Rif" [part VII]). Joanna - tambourine ("Nostradamus"). Produced by Andrew Robinson. Engineered by Bryce Chicoine. Mixed by Bryce Chicoine and Andrew Robinson. The Tunes: 1. You Know The Way [6:32] 2. Blue Sky, Deep Lake [:53] 3. Traveller [7:25] 4. Khyber Pass [2:35] 5. Nostradamus [3:52] 6. Into The Unknown [5:22] 7. Until The Sun Burns Out [13:27] 8. 108 Steps To Babaji [5:25] 9. Rif [20:02] Steven Davies-Morris (SDM) -- A 21st Century Schizoid Man firstname.lastname@example.org
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