Big Hairy Monster!
(All Album Reviews by Big Hairy Monster!)
Ah, the concept album. Prog bands love to write them and critics love to bash them. Some of the albums that we hold the most near and dear to our hearts have been concept albums...they require more attention on the part of the listener, and by their nature allow for much more lyrical depth.
Glass Hammer's Chronomotree is a concept album, and a good one at that. Not only is there an engaging story line, it is a humorous one. Our hero, Tom, begins to hear space aliens speak to him through the Close To The Edge album by Yes. Through these hidden messages, Tom is instructed on how to build the "Chronomotree", a time machine. Tom believes that the aliens will meet with him, so with friends gathered around he spends a night outside searching the skies for the mothership..., which never comes. Instead of manipulating time, Tom winds up wasting a bunch of it. The moral: avoid copious amounts of weed whilst listening to Yes.
If you think about it, this is a great concept! In the hands of a more adept singer, this would have been sensational! My biggest problem with this disc is vocalist Brad Marler. While he is not a bad singer (far from "grating" as stated by AMG), his voice just doesn't seem appropriate to the music. Musical influences range from (most prominently) ELP to Kansas, touches of Camel, and a parting song that is similar in style to Gryphon.
While this disk does nothing to break new ground in the field of prog rock, there are some excellent moments to be found here. Fans of analog keyboards will adore this album, due to an over abundance of Mini-Moog, Hammond B3, Mellotron, pipe organ patches, and what sounds like an RMI Harpsichord. This piece could very well have been released in 1977...it sounds that classic. However, some might consider this to be rehashing old ideas. Personally, I don't mind a band taking this route when the final product is good.
While Chronomotree does have a few faults, and may be derivative, it is a solid recording worthy of several spins. I would specifically recommend this to fans of Keith Emerson's style of playing, or fans of concept albums.
Let me start by saying that Glass Hammer are among my favorite prog bands today. They’re excellent, they’re professional, they’re wide spread as to what progressive music is all about! So having bought and enjoyed their later albums Shadowlands & The Inconsolable Secret I thought it natural to seek up the earlier albums.
So Chronometree their 2000 release, has been on my CD player for quite a while now. And I must say, that this release are just as excellent as those afore mentioned. It is absolutely brimming with beautiful themes and very well thought-out ideas. There are hints to ELP in the keyboard rushes, there are hints to long forgotten UK prog artists. There are extremely well written songs and beautiful executed themes. This is an amazing album!
I am really amazed at the sheer professional talent displayed here. Gentlemen Babb and Schendel are masters of their trade! These guys must be the forerunners of the new progwave!? They are master composers, they seem to have a talent for whom to include on their albums. As the final result always gives us, the prog community, the utmost best.
Chronometree is one hell of an album, filled to the brim with wonderful prog music, never a moment with dull themes. The album divided into two sections: “All in good time” part 1 and part 2. Which in turn are divided into separate parts. First section of part one, ”Empty space-Revealer” is an excellent example of my statements above.
The wonderful keyboard, bass and drum intro delivers a very tight formation (ELP) and the fierce powerful guitars of Terry Clouse, makes up for a real treat. The song soon turns into what we’ve come to know (and expect) from Glass Hammer, a fine prog tune with superb singing and some great arrangements.
With quality this high (as I suspect the rest of their vast catalogue is) it really is hard to pinpoint a favorite Glass Hammer album. To my trained ear, there is not one note wrong, not one tone false. You really owe it to yourself, to hear this fabulous band. If you are a true prog fan, there’s absolutely no way around it!!
You MUST hear (and own) Glass Hammer! Chronometree is an excellent place to start!
Oh, by the way, the fabulous multi talented Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon and several other fine prog projects) is a guest on this album. What are you waiting for?