Cryptic Vision - Moments Of Clarity

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

You know what? I didn't like Cryptic Vision's Moments Of Clarity; my first thoughts weren't pleasant, something along the lines of "ghouls robbing the graves of progressive rock long dead." Okay, it wasn't that grisly, but I was turned off by the obvious reuse (more cynical types would be crying "rip off!") of dated progressive styles. Then again, it's good to revisit the past and remember the basis for one's craft. And you know what? After a lot of listenings, my view has turned all the way around. Moments Of Clarity is more than a little derivative, but given Cryptic Vision's talent and vision, it's also a fine debut that is referential yet uniquely refreshing and provides a panoramic review of progressive rock history, from the late Sixties to the early Nineties.

Not to be confused with Cryptic Visions from the Windy City, Cryptic Vision hail from Florida, a trio of musicians whose names may be familiar to you: Todd Plant (lead and backing vocals), Rick Duncan (just about everything including the kitchen sink), and Robert Van Dyne (keys and guitars). Providing ample support is a large cast of performing and studio veterans, including David Ragsdale (Kansas), Ralph Santolla (Iced Earth), and Howard Helm (Zon). Multi-instrumentalist Duncan is the source for most of Moments Of Clarity, having written or co-written ten of the eleven songs, with Van Dyne contributing the pivotal ? and heartbreaking ? "Colored Leaf."

A concept album, Moments Of Clarity deals with a young man's journey through spiritual awakening, loss of love and faith, and redemption. Each song represents a phase of his journey, portraying his thoughts and feelings. Composer Duncan's lyrics may seem simplistic to finicky listeners but are, in truth, eloquent in their honesty and clarity; it's not hard to understand (or share) his inspiration. The icing on the lyrical cake is vocalist Plant, whose resonant tenor (very similar to that of Survivor's Jim Peterik) effectively conveys a soulful depth to Duncan's heartfelt words. In a field where great singers abound, Plant certainly ranks with the best; I can't imagine anyone but Plant singing these songs, let alone doing it half as well.

And, for the most part, the music is just as impressive. Moments Of Clarity is not limited to progressive rock; fans of pomp rock and AOR should be very happy with the songs offered here. "Introspective" begins like an outtake from Alan Parsons' I, Robot, and turns into a pomp rock overture a la Yngwie Malmsteen. "Grand Design" not only lifts the title from Rush, but turns "Jacob's Ladder" on its head, then runs straight into Yes territory, featuring rolling, airy choruses that make me suspect that Anderson and Squire owe more than a little thanks to the Beach Boys. "Angeline" gets the toes tapping with its nifty keyboard arpeggios, big B3 and power chords, and Plant lending convincing joy while sounding more than a little like Tommy Shaw. Tragedy strikes immediately with "Losing Faith," with joy hammered into grief "with one phone call," invoking loss and emptiness with a sparse arrangement of acoustic guitar, piano, and Plant's pain-filled vocals. "Colored Leaf" (my favorite song here) depicts the intrusive reassertion of real life into the protagonist's melancholy seclusion, featuring Plant's best vocal and a Pink Floyd-ian instrumental break complete a great synthesizer solo and some Dave Gilmour-inflected guitars. The epic title suite recalls Dream Theater's Images and Words, while "Ascension" mixes DT with a healthy dose of IQ-style neo-prog to close Moments Of Clarity on a properly grandiose note.

So, you know what? I really like Cryptic Vision and their Moments Of Clarity, and not just because it's a very good album. I like Moments Of Clarity because it inspires me in a lot of ways; to keep in touch with the past (and that includes digging out those old records that I used to love but haven't listened to in years), to love and value life at this moment, and to look to the future because there's a world of good just waiting to happen there. Yep, Moments of Clarity really reaches me, and given the chance, it might reach you, too. Or at least remind you of the rock you once loved and may have forgotten. Very cool ? check it out.

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: April 4th 2004
Reviewer: David Cisco
Artist website:
Hits: 1130
Language: english


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