Metaphor — The Sparrow
(TropeAUDIO TA 045, 2007, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2008-01-01Acclaimed US prog act Metaphor’s third album is finally out after two-plus years of refinement, and the finished result is well worth the wait. I was lucky enough to receive a group of rough demos from keyboardist Marc Spooner at NEARfest 2006 as kind of an inside look at their challenging work in progress. Unlike Camel with Snow Goose, the band chose to carefully adapt the subject matter of noted writer Mary Doria Russell’s sci-fi epic with her permission. The resulting album is a well-crafted balance of lyrical and instrumental dexterity. Vocalist John Mabry has come into his own across the disc giving some of his best delivery on pieces such as the contrapuntal “Deus Vult,” “Stella Maris,” and the anthem “God Will Break Your Heart.” The key themes of religious conversion, space migration and cosmic awareness are well covered in the former two pieces while the latter track serves as Mabry’s most convincing ballad. Foxtrot-era Genesis influences are more diluted on this recording with early Gentle Giant like passages appearing in a few tracks. The band can credibly rock it up like their SF bay area contemporaries Puppet Show (“Starfooted”) (despite the odd meter and Mellotron) or push a weird Yes-like modal passage on “We Are Many and They Are Few.” Overall the group has easily transcended their earlier efforts and put their best foot forward, shaping their own identity on the small but loyal progressive scene.
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more