ESP are essentially Mark Brzezicki of Big Country fame and guitarist/producer Tony Lowe, supported by a cast of prog luminaries such as David Cross (King Crimson), John Young (Lifesigns)and Steve Gee (Landmarq). I really wanted, and expected, to like this release as I'm a big fan of most things related to both progressive rock and Brzezicki who, as well as his work with the aforementioned Big Country, has also occupied the drum stool on The Cult's classic ‘Love’ album and for Fish's band upon his departure from Marillion.
However, like the river painted on the inside cover, this album meanders with no real purpose or direction. The tracks are all mid-paced with very little light and shade; the saxophone tends to dominate at the expense of guitars and, as a consequence, the tracks seem to blend into each other with not much to distinguish one from another. The exception and, therefore, the standout moment on the album, in my opinion, is the opening few minutes of track 6, 'Searching the Banks for a Memory'. This features the sound of lapping waves and the electric harp of Yumi Hara and is a very atmospheric, soothing piece.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this release, the musicianship and production is perfectly good and it is far from bad, but it just lacks that certain spark that lifts it above the ordinary. Prog is becoming a very crowded genre these days. For example, you have an established band like Marillion who have just released possibly their best album in years, old hands like Big Big Train who are experiencing a well deserved renaissance and young, up and coming groups such as Second Relation, who are eager to make their mark on the scene.
As such, and in order to get noticed and for fans to actually buy your music, you have to offer either something that is different to what is already available or to better the competition. I'm afraid that, with this release, ESP achieve neither.
Review by Dave Uphill
11th Nov 2016
2) Through the Dream
3) Uninvited Guest
4) Song from a Waking Dream
5) Where is My Home
6) Searching the Banks for a Memory
7) Waiting for the Rush
8) Riding the Thermal
9) Quiet Days
10) Invisible Din
11) Almost Seen
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"... like the river painted on the inside cover, this album meanders with no real purpose or direction."