(All Album Reviews by BrotherJon#9)
In an attempt to satiate fans until the completion of their much anticipated second studio release - In A World, Cryptic Vision has captured and delivered their prog energy in a live recording of their appearance at the 2005 Rites of Spring Festival with Live at ROSfest 2005. Only having hear industry buzz about CV, I was poised for being impressed. I was not disappointed. Live at ROSfest is a great production for a live recording as nuance, clarity and ambience are all present. I recently learned that CV had only played two live gigs prior to the ROSfest show – wow! Borrowing much of their material from their debut CD, Moments of Clarity, this CD pleases from the start.
The opening track is “Introspective/Contemplation/Grand Design” and is as grandiose as the title implies. Like an orchestra warming up in the pit before a concerto, CV creates a swirling cacophony of sound and atmosphere and forges it into a lucid theme. What is immediately noticeable is the Rickenbacker bass sound growling from the speakers of Sam Conable’s rig. Slicing through the lush mix, his bottom end carries it’s own voice that demands acknowledgment. What also struck me as an element that would set CV apart from their contemporaries is their ability to nail live, complex vocal harmonies with ease. Lead vocalist Todd Plant really shines in the “Grand Design” section. A sneak peek from their upcoming album is smartly added in – “In A World” is an epic clocking in at just under sixteen minutes, there is a fantastic instrumental section before segueing into the main theme that is a simple and direct acoustic piano and guitar with Plant’s vocals taking center stage. Most impressive is the powerhouse chorus, featuring crisp and tight guitar work from Timothy Keese. Keyboardist John Zahner flexes so lead synth muscle in the quirky, Latin infused middle instrumental section.
The track, “Shock Value,” from “Moments of Clarity,” is a straightforward rocker that is a tad schmaltzy, but not horrible. The weakest section on the CD comes in the form of "Progledy", a medley of prog contemporaries; Spocks Beards, Yes, Kansas, Dream Theatre, Genesis, and ELP. Although ambitious, this medley really highlights why it’s hard to pull off covers unless you make them your own or rearrangement beyond recognition. Things are OK in the Spock’s Beard section and get really “heavy metal” in the Yes section as “Your’s Is No Disgrace” is hammered out with heavy metal fire and the harmonies were surprisingly off. The Genesis and ELP sections are weak in recreating the essence of the original works. The CD ends on a high note with their studio version of “In A World.” Well produced and pretty close to their live offering, a nice prelude to what looks to a great album.
I couldn’t help but read all of the influences of CV – Kansas, Genesis, Dream Theatre and that’s all fine and dandy, but I really don’t hear that much of those influences. What I hear is a band that have taken progressive music and made it their own, introducing passion and excitement into what can be a stuffy and inaccessible place. I look forward to In A World.