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Stealing the Fire — In Memory of an Absent Friend
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, DLEP)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-05-18

In Memory of an Absent Friend Cover art

Professor Bruce Lacey was a British performer, artist, and eccentric. Following his service in the British Navy, he became a regular on the avant-garde scene with his performance art and mechanical constructs (robots). He was featured in a number of short films through the years as well as BBC documentaries, but readers around the world may be familiar with the Fairport Convention song “Mr. Lacey” on the What We Did on Our Holidays album; the song was written about him, and during the instrumental break one can hear the sounds of some of his robots in the background. Lacey was born in 1927 and passed away in 2016, and the 25-minute EP at hand, In Memory of an Absent Friend, is dedicated to the memory of Lacey, although one might not realize it because the four tracks on it are entirely instrumental, though one can see the man’s eccentric beneficence beaming out from the EPs front cover. Stealing the Fire is normally a trio: Tim Lane (guitar, bass, keyboards), Chris Bond (keyboards, electronics), and “Saff” (vocals), though as previously noted these are four instrumental cuts so it’s safe to assume that Saff sat this one out. In addition, the band regularly features guests, and there are drums and additional piano featured, though no specific credits are given, other than the composition credit to Lane. The four cuts are simply titled “Part 1,” “Part 2,” and so on, and offer superb embracements of the progressive rock ethic, not overly complex, but filled with energy and regular changes where melody reigns supreme, such as to keep the listener engaged for the duration of the set. “Part 3” is particularly interesting, involving an acoustic guitar and piano duet at the beginning, eventually giving way to full electric mode, perhaps reminiscent of The Enid in their early years, without the heavy symphonic trappings. “Part 4” is the longest track at nearly nine minutes, swerving through a number of different ideas as it proceeds. In conclusion, In Memory of an Absent Friend is an outstanding example of what this band can do in a purely instrumental setting, as well as a great tribute to the late Professor Lacey.

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Stealing the Fire, Ubermodo / Tim Lane

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