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Ambiguously billed as simply "Chris", what do we have here? Well, the accompanying press sheet informs we're dealing with a Dutchman named Christiaan Bruin, only 22 years old, drummer with prog rockers Sky Architect, and this is his second solo release. And never has the word "solo" been more apt as a descriptive word for Bruin is something of a multi-instrumentalist; he's composed and performed all music on these recordings himself. Beyond that, and pertaining to complete autonomy in the guise of some sort of musical auteur, he's also responsible for the album artwork and production. So one could say the antithesis and diametric opposite of fellow Dutchman Arjen Lucassen in that the Ayreon/Star One mainman, although autonomous to a degree, surrounds himself with collaborators to help extract the best from his compositions. So what has one man, namely Christiaan Bruin, got to offer with this near-70 minute concept piece created just by himself? I'm pleased to report, something rather quite good, albeit a little patchy in parts where certain passages of music verge on the self-indulgent and come across as too long and drawn out in getting to where he's going with the compositions. Fortunately, though, such moments are few, with the majority of the album's playing time holding the listening attention throughout - well, at least it did mine. The disparate influences at work undoubtedly help hold attention as songs twist and turn through various styles. Take opening vocal/keyboard piece 'Resemblance' which segues into a build up of nicely layered instruments, with the introduction of lead guitar reminiscent of Riverside's Piotr Grudzinski, before this gives way to a Beatles-esque section, then a big IQ-style chorus, and so on. While one can only be in sheer admiration of the epic undertaking of such a venture for a musician as young as Bruin, I can't help but wonder how much better some of his compositions would have sounded if he'd employed the talents of other musicians - that could have enhanced and embellished particular passages of music where the album does drag a little. Or perhaps I'm entirely wrong and Bruin's music has been recorded exactly as he envisioned, and it transcends my own tastes at times. Maybe using a producer other than himself would have been the favourable option for while 'Making Sense' is adequately produced and mixed, it lacks that extra oomph and resonance in certain areas. That's probably more the case as I can't particularly fault Bruin's performance, both as an instrumentalist and vocalist. Still, whatever the case, this one is most definitely worth checking out for both the casual and discerning prog rock fan.
Progress Records
Review by Mark Holmes
24th Sept 2010
1) Resemblance
2) Waking from a Dream
3) To Fly
4) Making Sense
5) Fantasy
6) Sky Castles
7) Shades
8) Eve of Destiny
9) Wishful Thinking
10) The Final Hour
"...most definitely worth checking out for both the casual and discerning prog rock fan."