Cairo - Conflict And Dreams

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9012 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:29:00

Conflict and Dreams, Cairo's latest, is a tough album to judge lyrically. While it isn't immediately apparent, until one tries to make sense of the lyrics, this is a concept album of sorts. Not as linear as others reviewed here, but a concept album nonetheless, one that also deals with a crisis of faith. Or rather, faith in crisis.

"Angels And Rage" examines the two sides of a coin - evil and good, darkness and light - and the conflict in choosing the right path, or finding the balance between the two. And while I thought the Middle Eastern imagery was equating Islamic faith with evil, actually, there is another way of reading these lyrics.

Anyone who knows their history will be familiar with the Crusades of the 11th Century - well, they began in the 11th Century when Pope Urban ... I digress. In the Crusades, one of the goals was to reclaim Jerusalem for Christianity. While that is a simplistic way of stating the issue, it should suffice. The conflict is laid out in the first song, as stated above. From there, the protagonist is thrown into chaos - "Corridors" - and emerges in the Middle East - actually Egypt. "Western Desert" literally evokes visions of the pyramids.

Short of laying the whole metaphor out, suffice it to say, our protagonist becomes a soldier in the Crusades - "Valley Of The Shadow". While you might think that the track ends with the protagonist being triumphant - he has reclaimed Jerusalem for the Christians. He doesn't.

I do want to back up a bit, because there isn't a true linear thread here, because in "Then You Were Gone," as he's looking for God, he's in Morocco. There isn't an explanation as to how he gets from Morocco (NW Africa) to the Pyrenees (between France/Spain), except that he's done a lot of walking (and jumped the Strait of Gibraltar). So, obviously, this is where the Dream part comes into play.

Nevertheless, this is, of course, an extended metaphor for our current incursions into Iraq. Strangely, the view seemingly expressed here is that we have fallen out of grace because we have waged war. The last lyric here is "Dreams I've been fighting for, living for, don't shine anymore."

All that said, what bothers me is that the album, except for a few vocal harmonies, seems to just go by and is forgotten. There is nothing here that sticks in the mind. Okay, the Emersonian Hammond passages do, but actually what they bring to mind are Emerson's own passages (think Tarkus).

Their style takes much from Dream Theater, yet sounding like a smoother version. There are fewer sharp edges in Cairo's music.

There is hollowness here, down mostly to the lyrics, or rather, the execution of the lyrics. Bret Douglas' delivery is light and airy, but seems incohesive.

I want to like this, and instrumentally I do, but ... this is nice as background music. The vocal harmony at the end of "Valley" is very Yes-like in its execution, and the only time they were brought to mind. There was a stronger influence on the debut Cairo.

Angels and Rage (10:23) / Corridors (11:56) / Western Desert (17:08) / Image (1:25) / Then You Were Gone (8:25) / Valley Of The Shadow (15:52)

Mark Robertson - synthesizers, Hammond organ, grand piano, vocals
Jeff Brockman - drums
Alec Fuhrman - guitars, vocals
Bret Douglas - lead vocals
Jamie Browne - bass

Cairo (1994)
Conflict and Dreams (1998)
Time Of Legends (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 1st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1211
Language: english


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