Echolyn - The End Is Beautiful

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Velveteen Records
Catalog Number: VR2010
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:50:00

Some of you might still be digesting Echolyn's previous output Mei which was a (very) long epic taking up all of the album. So hopefully you will be pleased to learn that The End Is Beautiful harks back to the Cowboy Poems Free era. It also welcomes back original bass player Thomas Hyatt, so that the current band is indeed the original line-up. The new album is a collection of eight songs in which the band delivers a more condensed yet nevertheless true progressive sound. The uptempo opener "Georgia Pine" is one ball of energy, what with handclaps adding to the rhythm. In fact, the opening drum sounds delivered by Paul Ramsey sound like authentic John Bonham to my ears! Although Chris Buzby has tons of keyboards to help him out, the band nevertheless have used a real brass section on three tracks. Although you might have fantastic sounding samples, having the real thing at your disposal not only ends up giving more depth to the music, it also inspires better. Having saxophone, trumpet and trombone working together on "Heavy Blue Mile," of course it delivers a strong jazz reference, but once the organ sneaks in the jazzy emphasis kind of vanishes.

Echolyn always had a strong point where vocal harmonies are concerned and this new album makes no difference. In fact, due to the fact that good old Thomas has returned to home base, it enables Ray Weston to fully concentrate on his singing, which he delivers with panache here. In a song like "Lovesick Morning," Ray uses his voice to not only sing but also tell us a story. He makes sure the longest track on the album remains captivating by switching vocal techniques, soft and rough passages, normal and head-voice. When necessary, Wilson's voice is backed by those of the other guys in the band, nicely blending with the whole. "Make Me Sway" sounds a little "darker" than the previous songs, mainly by using very low mellotron sounds and an equally deep Moog sound (delivered here by means of the Nord). The great thing about Echolyn is that not all the songs sound similar, that the approach on the album varies as time slips away. The title track, "The End Is Beautiful," delivers the nicest example of this as the build up is gentle yet effective, with a bass loop and percussion building up the tension. There's a melody in there which sounds very familiar to my ears although I can't really put a name to it. Brett Kull delivers some wonderful slide guitar here. In fact, throughout the entire album Brett's guitar outings are once again top notch, whether it concerns acoustic passages or fierce electric outbursts such as in "So Ready." Although Chris Buzby has plenty of keyboards to chose from, he mainly emphasizes on piano and organ, which indeed he does throughout the fantastic closing song "Misery, Not Memory." Here Brett Kull also delivers some tasty acoustic guitar that blends ever so well with the piano. Towards the end, the rhythm speeds up courtesy of some dexterous playing from Thomas.

I can clearly say that the great drumming of Paul Ramsey lays down enough foundations for all of the band to step into another gear whilst introducing another chapter in the ongoing unique nature of Echolyn. Together with the vocal harmonies, superb organ leads and over the top guitar genius, drums and bass work together like Siamese twins. Maybe the general sound on this new album is a little harder, maybe more contemporary, yet their Gentle Giant-like complexity is still there, as are the slight Beatles elements that occasionally appear in their harmonies. It surely is an album that will reveal more beauty with each spin as Echolyn combines the pure progressive nature with a more direct rock approach on this, their latest studio offering, The End Is Beautiful.

Georgia Pines (5:49) / Heavy Blue Miles (6:48) / Lovesick Morning (10:12) / Make Me Sway (5:22) / The End Is Beautiful (7:45) / So Ready (5:01) / The Arc of Descent (5:46) / Misery, Not Memory (9:03)

Christopher Buzby - keyboards, vocals, percussion, samples
Ray Weston - Vocals, bass, Guitar, Keyboards, noise bits, samples
Tom Hyatt - bass, vocals,percussion,noise bits, electric & acoustic guitar,
Paul Ramsey - drums, percussion, vocals
Brett Kull - guitars, vocals, loops, noise bits, lapsteel, baritone guitar,

Echolyn (1991)
Suffocating The Bloom (1992)
...And Every Blossom (1993)
As The World (1995)
When The Sweet Turns Sour (1996)
Cowboy Poems Free (2000/2008*)
ProgFest '94: The Official Bootleg (2002)
mei (2002)
A Little Nonesense: Now And Then (2002)
Official Live Bootleg: Jersey Tomato (2003)
As The World (expanded reissue) (2005)
The End Is Beautiful (2005)
Echolyn (**) (2012)
I Heard You Listening (2015)
Home Brew Bootleg Stew 1994-95 (VHS) (1995, oop)
Stars And Gardens Vol 4. (DVD) (2004)

*remastered **not the same album as the debut

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: September 19th 2005
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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Language: english


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