Review Summary: A soothing yet frightening progressive and psychedelic experience that nicely bridges the gap between Mozart and Elton John
This is a truly incredible musical experience. The large addition of classical music elements to a popular music record is brilliant. It is a unique sound but it is comparable to Gentle Giant's debut album, Elton John's 70s material and the Beatles psychedelic material (except it uses real instruments instead of mellotrons). But it is really hard to put a single genre on this album which is something I like.
The interesting and complex instrumentation shows the great talent and skill the musicians in the band. The violin solos never get old. The Oboe solos never get old. The Cello solos never get old. The horn solos, THE HORN SOLOS. They are incredible. If there was no horn on the record, I would not enjoy it (and that is not just because I play the horn). And the instruments are all real. THEY ARE REAL. I also enjoy the absence of a guitar in this rock album.
The psychedelica on this record is great. It is as if they recorded the sounds of tripping musical instruments. It is not quite like other psychedelic music that I have heard in that there is wide variety of musical instruments used on every track on the album. And did I mention that they are real? The psychedelica is met by musical progressivism in perfection to create music that both relaxes and terrifies me. It makes me sleepy yet keeps me awake.
This is one of few albums that I can think of that is both a collection of songs and a greater work. All the songs flow together yet they can be enjoyed as separate tracks. The opening track, “10583 Overture” tells me right from the start what the album is made of. This incredible track is the only one with a notable guitar line which separates it from the album but there is the same sound that ties it all back together. I would have to say “Look at me now” is the weakest track on the album but the weakness of this song is canceled out by the strength of “10583 Overture”, “Nellie Takes her Bow” and “Mr. Radio” all three of which are very notable for their controlled psychedelica and musical progressivism. How the album ends with “Whispers in the Night” is perfect. After being alternately and simultaneously calmed and terrified it is nice to calm down with a nice acoustic ballad.
I would recommend this album to anyone hoping to begin or expand their progressive or psychedelic music collection. It is a good stepping stone into deeper psychedelic and progressive music because it still has its roots in mainstream 70s rock. It is refreshing to a hardened prog/psychedelic rock fan also because of its roots in mainstream 70s rock. I would recommend it to a Beatles fan too because of their obvious influence on this album. For me this album resides amongst my favourites.