Cryptic Vision - Moments Of Clarity

Year of Release: 2003
Label: ProgRock Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:49:00

Cryptic Vision are a band that I first discovered at RoSFest 2005 - they took the stage at 11.00 on a Sunday morning and just tore the place apart. Naturally I had to check them out further and bought their Moments Of Clarity CD.

Just so you know where these guys are coming from, you can expect a heavy dose of Yes and Kansas influences in their music, but plenty more too, such as ELP, Spock's Beard, Floyd, Genesis and probably many more too numerous to mention. Vocalist Todd Plant and long-time musical collaborator and multi instrumentalist Rick Duncan are the driving force behind the band, and the Moments Of Clarity CD was essentially a two man project augmented by guest musicians, friends and colleagues such as keyboard player Robert Van Dyne, Iced Earth guitarist Ralph Santolla and former Kansas violinist David Ragsdale, amongst others.

In 2005, a live band was put together consisting of Plant on guitar, keyboards and main vocals; Duncan on drums; Tim Keese on vocals and guitar; John Zahner on vocals and keyboards; and Sam Conable on vocals and bass. For more on Cryptic Vision live check out my RoSFest 2005 review.

Moments Of Clarity is most definitely classic, symphonic progressive music, with a strong nod to some of the best AOR bands of the 80's - and if that's your bag you will enjoy this album immensely. Opening instrumental "Introspective" tells you straight from the start what you are in for; swirling keyboards, a constant, driving bass/drum rhythm, fluid guitar work and a terrific violin solo from Ragsdale.

"New Perspective" is a very upbeat, appealing rocker, with strong vocal work all round, some great guitar work, and a very strong melody. Plant has an incredible voice and a great range, often calling to mind other vocalists, though never seeking to actively copy anyone. "Contemplation" has a very low-key opening, which leads into a short, spoken narration section before bursting into life with a every anthemic vocal section that for me brings back great memories of Plant, Conable and Keese standing with arms outstretched on stage at RoSFest belting this one out - very much a show highlight and indeed a defining moment,?and one that made everyone sit up and take notice on the day. The very upbeat mood continues to the end of the track, but it just gets better... "Grand Design" is without question my fave track from the album. Grabbing your attention from the start with a harsh, powerful staccato rhythm not unlike Holst's "Mars God Of War," with?piano and keyboard runs weaving in and out of the slightly offbeat time signature. But the vocal work on this song is a tour-de-force - there are some incredibly intricate vocal harmony sections throughout the whole track, similar to some of Spock's Beard's a cappella vocal pyrotechnics on tracks such as "Thoughts," and also Yes circa the Trevor Rabin-era material. A strong but very welcome Yes influence on this one.

"Angeline" shows yet again the band's strong AOR influence -?a great melodic, romantic radio-friendly?track in the Styx/Kansas, and (dare I say?)?REO Speedwagon mode. Once again, superb vocal work from Plant makes this one of the standout tracks on the album. "Losing Faith" takes the mood down a little with a short acoustic number, followed by "Angels Requiem;" church organ and piano chords are overlaid with gentle female vocals, building to a satisfying,?very stately climax. "Colored Leaf" retains the low key mood,? lyrically a very strong track with a slight touch of Pink Floyd (just listen to the way Plant sings the line "Couldn't she have picked a better day to go" - pure Roger Waters). Just a small nod, but a welcome one, with the tempo increasing and building gradually to a powerful conclusion.

"Shock Value" starts off with some interesting sampled keyboard noises, before developing into a bit of a rocker with a slightly more aggressive vocal than usual. This was a song that initially I was not very impressed with, but I must admit it has grown on me the more I listen to the album. And then we are into the epic of the album. Thus far the tracks have been between 2 and 5 mins, but the title track is 12:28. I suppose you would expect that if the album were to have a weak spot it would probably be here. Not so. A very fast, aggressive opening instrumental section sets the scene here. No slow, doom laden passages, just some superb keyboard / guitar / violin interplay backed by a meaty rhythm section. In fact the time passes by incredibly quickly considering, as there is just so much going on here, so many interesting rhythms and strong vocal passages (especially the powerful?"In due time" section). The tempo changes again for the next section ("Hope For Tomorrow") , with a consistent, steady rhythm, interspersed with some intricate time changes coupled with fast, rockier guitar led passages - and before you know it, it's over. Final track "Ascension" is another mid-paced song that again has that 80s influence, a gentle but very melodic track that you can imagine an audience swaying along to - lighted matches held aloft optional.

And there you have it - one of the most consistently enjoyable albums I have heard in a very long time. It's an album I listen to regularly purely because it's very accessible, a very easy album to play all the way through on a regular basis without skipping a single track - and there are really not many albums I can say that about. Can you?

Introspective (5:06) / New Perspective (4:05) / Contemplation (4:16) / Grand Design (7:16) / Angeline (4:22) / Losing Faith (2:25) / Angel?s Requiem (2:14) / Colored Leaf (4:44) / Shock Value (4:03) / Moments of Clarity (12:28): l. Flash of Life- ll. Abaddon - lll. In Due Time - lV. Hope for Tomorrow / Ascenscion (5:42)

Todd Plant - lead and backing vocals
Rick Duncan - drums, keys, mellotron, guitars, bass, djembe
Robert Van Dyne - keys, guitars

Additional musicians:
Ralph Santolla, Shawn Bowen, Matt Burke, John LeBlanc - guitars
Brian Carpenter, Mike Carello - bass
David Ragsdale, Jennifer Gehl, Jeff Fara - violins
Sage, Candace Peters, Jeff Cope - vocals
Kelly Schaefer - primal screams
Howard Helm - keys
G. J. Gosman - djembe tracks
Roy Winkelmann - narration

Moments Of Clarity (2003)
'In A World' (single demo)
Live At RoSFest 2005 (2005)
In A World (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: February 5th 2006
Reviewer: John Morley
Artist website:
Hits: 1968
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]