Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Airbridge — Openings
(Bandcamp Voon VN002CD, 2023, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-10-26
A full forty years after their 1983 debut album, Paradise Moves, Airbridge seems to be back in the habit of regular releases. Openings being their third album, a follow up to their second, Memories of Water, reviewed in these pages around two years ago. The lineup remains pretty much the same as last time out, with keyboardist, trumpeter, and harmonica player Jason Crompton, guitarist, bassist multi-instrumentalist, and singer Lorenzo Bedini, and drummer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Dave Dowdeswell-Allaway; the latter two have been with the band from the very beginning, although at some point along the timeline Dowdeswell-Allaway transitioned from his original duties as the band’s live sound engineer, with guest players joining on this track or that on brass and backing vocals. While the band’s history is steeped in the neo-progressive sounds of yesteryear, the new album makes a strong effort to reach outside of that box with some interesting pop ideas folded in and unusual lyrics that all point to a band that refuses to be pigeonholed as prog, yet the ideas and influences are there in the mix. All three members take part in the songwriting in various capacities, though it’s Bedini who is responsible for two of the album’s multi-part epic pieces, “The Unwholesome Perigrinations of Erasmus Gloome” and “A Cry from the Deep,” at roughly ten and twelve minutes respectively. Bedini’s unabashed opening rocker “Burning Sun” is pretty much straight-up hard rock on the instrumental side, the lyrics are solid, but the vocals seem a little ethereal with too many effects in their way, something the listener gets used to over the course of a few plays. Dowdeswell-Allaway’s “Hey There!” is a song dealing with the freedom of childhood, bolstered by plenty of additional instrumentation. Something happens around two-thirds of the way through the set that sends it in some unexpected directions, for example Dowdeswell-Allaway’s “That Big Small Step” is essentially an a capella piece featuring a dozen or more vocal tracks, including those of backing vocalist Trudi Brunskill, while “Europa” gives the listener a history briefing of ancient Europe with beautiful choral arrangements. The band-penned “Dreams (Deus Ex Machina)” closes the album nicely on a somewhat proggy note. All taken, Openings is an interesting album with plenty of surprises at every turn.
Related artist(s): Airbridge
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