H - Ice Cream Genius

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Castle Music
Catalog Number: WEN CD 016
Format: CD
Total Time: 47:46:00

If you can get past the opening track "The Evening Shadows," which is a low key, and off-kilter ... okay, I really don't like this track and H's (Steve Hogarth) vocals here make me wince. There is almost a childlike feel to this track - a child in a very disturbed mental place.

Of course, there's also "Cage," which is a collection of almost spoken vocals, tinkly sound effects (sounds like a koto or music box preset), and sparse drums. There is, however, a nice brass part to this five minutes in that's quite nice and the track ends well, but it's the bits between the chorus that take some getting used to.

Other than that, the rest of H's solo release, Ice Cream Genius, isn't bad. While mostly low key and mellow, there are a few more rockier tunes. It isn't a great album by any means, but there are enough subtleties that keep it interesting enough to listen to.

Anyone looking for a Marillion-like experience with different musicians is going to be disappointed. H has created on the one hand, a very arty kind of album and on the other a very pop album.

The most accessible track is "You Dinosaur Thing," a 60's sounding pop number that will bring to mind, appropriately enough, most any grunge band that's come down the pike since Nirvana. "Until You Fall," the other pop number (my first thought was The Monkees), could have appeared on a Marillion album, filling the same out-of-character slot that "Cannibal Surf Babe" did on Afraid of Sunlight, for example.

There are other tracks that fall into the haunting category - those with ghostly or ethereal atmospherics that linger long after the track has ended. One such track is the best track on the album, the closer "Nothing To Declare" - while the backing track is simple beneath H's piano, the lilting chorus will stay in your head. Not surprisingly, this is the most Marillion like song here, structurally. "The Deep Water" is an acoustic vocal piece which begins dark and moody, not unlike a This Strange Engine's "Estonia," and ends up sounding like a mixing of "Memory Of Water," and Fourth World rhythms, interspersed with strange sound effects. Similarly, "Better Dreams" plays with similar acoustic dynamics, again sounding like "Memory."

The final verdict is that there is enough good and listenable about this album to make it worth purchasing, but will appeal more to Marillion fans for the obvious reasons. H does better when he hews closer to the sound established with Marillion than with his more experimental noodlings.

The Evening Shadows (4:27) / Really Like (5:20) / You Dinosaur Thing (5:03) / The Deep Water (8:01) / Cage (7:02) / Until You Fall (3:58) / Better Dreams (7:23) / Nothing To Declare (6:32)

H - vocals, piano, samples, and machines
Dave Gregory - guitars
Richard Barbieri - synthesizers
Clem Burke - drums
Chucho Merchan - basses
Luis Jardim - percussion
Steve Jansen - percussion
Stuart Gordon - strings
Craig Leon - 12 String Cloud [?] (6)
Eddie Tan-Tan Thornton - trumpet
Brian Edwards - saxophone
Trevor Edwards - trombone
Cassel Webb and Stuart Epps - backing vocals
Tim Wheater - flute

Ice Cream Genius (1997)
Cage (tour ep)
Live Spirit : Live Body (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: August 11th 1998
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.stevehogarth.com
Hits: 865
Language: english


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