Saga — Generation 13
(Fuel2000 FLD-1019, 1995/2003, CD)
by Mike Grimes, Published 1995-11-01
There's so many good things about this album that I don't know where to begin. It marks a giant step forward for Saga – a 25-track, 69-minute concept album that includes some of the best material that the band has ever done. Generation 13 picks up where Security of Illusion should have left off, covering a lot of new ground for the band. The band uses odd time signatures for the first time (I think). "The Learning Tree" is a prime example of trademark Saga syncopation and blistering riffs, with the new twist of being in seven. It's amazing. Primarily known for their synth and piano sounds, they broaden the keyboard textures here by utilizing both Hammond and pipe organ for the first time. They also incorporate several types of musical styles into the pieces – jazz, lounge, big band, hip hop, everything. Unlike so many of their contemporaries from the 70s, Saga haven't lost their playing edge. As usual, guitarist Ian Crichton is stellar. He has to be one of the most underrated guitarists in all of rock music. His patented staccato style, unusual chord selection, and soloing technique are second to none. His guitar has always been the trademark sound of Saga, even though he's having to cut through as many as three keyboards in the mix sometimes. Most all of the songs melt together with several keyboard drones, spoken parts, and sound effects continuing during song transitions and tying the album together.
What's the concept behind the album? Well... I'm still working on that part. On a basic level, the story is about an orphaned boy who grows up under some less than ideal circumstances and finds companionship in the form of a toy puppet. However, after a while, the boy becomes at least a little bit confused, and then it's not clear who is pulling who's strings – the boy or the puppet. The bigger picture implication is, of course, our present society in general. There's enough thematic variety in the music that it doesn't sound like the same song over and over, yet several of the melodies reappear at various times on the album. The lyrics tell a story and skillfully tie the music together. I'm looking forward to the CD-ROM version of Generation 13 that is supposedly being released soon. If it's anything like this album, it should be great.
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more
Chick Corea RIP – The sad news has reached us that Chick Corea has Returned to Forever, so to speak. The innovative keyboardist and composer died on February 9 at the age of 79. With a career that spanned from the 60s until shortly before his death, Corea touched many listeners with the incredible variety of music he produced in his lifetime. » Read more
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more