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Echolyn — As the World
(550 Music BK 57623, 1995, CD)
by Dan Casey, Published 1995-07-01First off, as promised this major-label debut (actually their third full album) is not a sell-out in any way, shape or form. Echolyn have maintained the essence of their sound as defined on the previous two albums and have undergone significant metamorphosis as well, some changes for the better and others somewhat less satisfactory. The most notable of these being the drastically increased share of vocals; prepare your ears for 14 of 16 tracks chock full of two and three-part harmonies, many of which are admittedly difficult to sing with their dissonant and advanced voicings and cross-overs. In fact there is so much multi-part vocal that the traditional solo lead voices of Brett Kull and Ray Weston seem strangely alone when they take the fore. The band is tighter than ever, with the most impressive performances being turned in by drummer Paul Ramsey and bassist Tom Hyatt. It's their underpinnings on every tune that make this album worth the dough, regardless of your opinion on all the vocals. Unfortunately, keyboard master Chris Buzby and guitarist Kull don't take the solo spotlight as often as they used to, but when they do they really shine. Lyrically, the band has moved away from the more nostalgic and reminiscent approach of their previous efforts for something more generic and less personal and sincere. Of course there are exceptions to this (like "Uncle," "Entry 11/19/93," "The Cheese Stands Alone") but others (like "Never the Same," "Best Regards") are significantly more shallow. The band has made the almost unforgivable mistake of not including the lyrics in favor of a large band photo, but they are available through their management in the form of a book with commentary from band members about each track or over the Internet. Longtime fans will likely have fairly mixed views of As the World, but it undoubtedly ranks as one of the strongest major label releases in over a decade. Hopefully their next effort will push them into more uncharted waters, with a stronger focus on musicianship and interplay and less of a focus on vocal harmonies since they have clearly mastered that element of their music here.
Related artist(s): Echolyn
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