Advent - Advent

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Mellow Records
Catalog Number: MMP 311
Format: CD
Total Time: 46:11:00

Hailing from New Jersey, Advent gives us a self titled debut disc that reveals a group of musicians with a penchant for the vocal and compositional styles of the Schulman brothers. Melodically, Advent pursues a much different path than Gentle Giant, but the similarities in vocal style make for some interesting comparisons. Where GG might be disjointed and strident, Advent pursues Giant-like melodic themes in lush, dense layers of keys and vocals that will make your ears do a double take, so similar do they sound to Philip Schulman and Kerry Minnear, et al.

With this release, Advent also shows us a band with a triple whammy. First, we have symphonic prog tunes comprised of vast folds of synths, some full on orchestral work, one by 16th century Englishman William Byrd and the other by 20th century Spanish composer Joaquin Turina, both performed on keyboards and, most surprisingly, some 1980-ish dance tunes reminiscent of the New Romantic phase. To tell you the truth, if I hadn't known better, I would've thought I was listening to Heaven 17 or Spandau Ballet. Really, I'm serious! But you know what? It all sounds pretty good. Even the pop stuff. You know, at one time I ? .no, no, never mind.

Advent's prog tunes, most of them written by keyboardists Henry and Mark Ptak, are generally on the subdued side and, heavy with synthetic strings, they take a delicate Bach-like approach to their thematic material, with lovely progressions of chord variations. Even the most basic themes of Advent's work are florid with color and rich with texture.

Track two, "Alison Waits (A Ghost Story)," is an especially lovely and compelling work, with tense and melancholic passages juxtaposed against sustained fragile moments. The sixth track, "The Tree" features the unmistakable keyboard style of Kerry Minear and is somewhat reminiscent of Gentle Giant's "The Advent Of Panurge." The real treasure of this release though, is the final track "BITB (Boys In The Band; Bats In The Belfry; Bees In The Bonnet; Boy, Is This Butchered)," a walloping tribute to Gentle Giant. The tune is basically the kind of medley that band used to perform live, like the "Excerpts From Octopus" that appears on the live release, Playing The Fool. Advent's tribute is comprised of bits of "Knots," "Boys In The Band" and "Proclamation." The sections of these GG favorites are connected by original material written by the Ptak brothers that blends quite well with the GG snippets. This is a very impressive piece of work any way you look at it. But with well over half the music of this seven minute piece created by the Ptaks and not Gentle Giant, I would love to hear more from Advent in this lively, upbeat contrapuntal style.

The only qualms I have about this disc are its lack of acoustic instrumentation and its drum sound from time to time. Despite the overly digital sound of the mix at times, especially some very electronic sounding drums, this is a very interesting album from a group of fine musicians and writers. Anyone who has acquired the taste for Gentle Giant or who just enjoys good modern symphonic progressive rock ought to enjoy Advent.

Maginot Line 5:59 / Alison Waits (A Ghost Story) 10:36 / Rear View Mirror 3:31 / Tromp L'Oeil 3:26 / Nowhere Else To Go 5:12 / In The Tree 4:29 / Marche To The Fighte-The Retreat 4:10 / Caminando 1:27 / BITB 7:09

Alan Benjamin - guitars, bass, violin, keyboards, stick, laugh, vocals
Henry Ptak - keyboards, electronic percussion, lead vocals
Mark Ptak - keyboards, percussion, lead vocals
Mike Carroll - drums

Advent (1997)
Cantus Firmus (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: October 30th 2005
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website: www.angelfire/nj/adventmusic/advent,html
Hits: 2890
Language: english


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