New Sun - Expectations


Year of Release: 2001
Label: Blue Seven Music/New Sun
Catalog Number: NS103CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:16:00

If their previous output seemed mostly Rush influenced, New Sun have added a little bit of King Crimson to their palette, specifically angularity to their arrangements. Not in every track, but you can hear it in "Mammoth" which opens the album, and in "No Mas Uvas, " later in the album. About the first track, it actually begins with a chiming guitar that made me think both of Dream Theater and of Metallica (specifically of the track "One"*). Martial drums come for several measures, and then the full instrumentation which is a little raw (admittedly a bit Rush-like), before this gives way to vocals. As it draws to a conclusion, we get howling sound effects that are haunting. A driving rock arrangement closes the track, leaving us only with a keening guitar. In a news item I wrote recently, in reference to the next Explorer's Club album, I mentioned a Discovery Channel special about raising a mammoth found frozen. Well, this track here references the same discovery that the special detailed. The reason there is such excitement is because mammoths have been extinct for thousands of years, and because this corpse has been frozen, we can learn much more about the mammoths and how they died. If we are not careful, we, too, could be like the mammoths. It is an ecological message that we really should heed. It's funny, too, because in glancing at the photo of the band on the back of the sleeve (see above) I was thinking to myself that Cooper (in the middle) looks to be more outdoors man (nature guide, environmentalist, or the like) than a musician (whatever a musician is supposed to look like).

Expectations is a moodier album I think than their previous two. For all the electric guitars, it still feels mostly acoustic. Swirly keyboards (at least they sound like keyboards) appear in the mix, too. But, Christopher Scott Cooper plays a very gentle, lyrical, and pensive acoustic guitar in "Time, And No Words With You." (I kept thinking of the guitar intro to Led Zeppelin's "Rain Song,").

"Cause And Effect II" is quite different from "Cause And Effect" that appeared on Affects. This is a mellow track, a bit reminiscent of Echolyn. A melancholy violin (Benito Cortez) gives this a rather unique accent. Neil Panton also guests on piano. This is a hauntingly beautiful track, tapping into the mid-westness of Ameriprog, something I hear in Echolyn, Spock's Beard, Tristan Park, and others. Thematically, this track follows on from the theme of the first, taking another look at the state of humankind and our environment.

"Land Of Not So" in parts sounds like a lost Pearl Jam track, a band that for all intents and purposes lost me after Ten. Oh, there's a little bit of Soundgarden in there, too. A certain heaviness to the sound. But that only has to do with the sound, it's a little more arty than that implies. Vocals become another instrument, sometimes getting lost. It's a little off, something that draws attention to itself by being different from the rest of the album.

Dan Fogelberg, mellow Doobie Brothers, a pinch of Neil Young, and a pinch of Bruce Springsteen came to mind during the first segment of "Expectations" called 'Reflections.' 'Determination' ups the rock quotient with churning bass (Alex Kley) while occasional guitar phrases rise up out of the morass; sharp, light percussion ticks and shimmers like sparks. But 'Downside Up' ups everything again, sounding very Rush-like, but as if Rush were in a very dark place ? to say 'Determination' churns becomes understatement. But the darkness clears for 'Soliloquy,' where one guitar chimes and another traces quietly searing leads, like streamers across a pale blue sky. 'Single Malt Solution' sounds like 90s Marillion circa Brave, with deep, bubbling bass, tightly swirling keys, singing guitar phrases ? these latter elements sounding more like Jadis and IQ. Overall a nice track, though as with the rest of the album, moody as heck.

Grungy, as in dirty, bass (guest bassist Gustaf Fjelstrom) and guitar grind out "No Mas Uvas" Chris Trujillo's drums keep the time, keeping things from getting too out of hand. The angularity of the instruments make me think again of King Crimson, but the percussion is too clean - the symbols a little too shiny. Not for the track, mind you, but for Crimson.

"Do You Wish To Know" features the vocals of guest Tom Carr. He has a voice that I can't compare to anyone else?except that I think a little more about it, Live comes to mind. It doesn't strike one immediately, but after a verse or two, he seems to feel a little more comfortable, a little looser, and little stronger. Again, this a very moody piece, sinewy, and a bit thick like a humid day.

This is an interesting album. It's different enough from much of what's out there, despite the hints at the familiar. There's the feeling of a band that doesn't want to make another neo-prog or pop-based prog album, and don't. All of which gives New Sun a rather unique voice, at least among their American prog compatriots. Not perfect, but quite good.


Tracklisting:
Mammoth (7:26) / Cause & Effect II (5:01) / Land Of Not So (6:35) / Expectations: Part 1-Reflections - Part 2-Determination - Part 3 & 4-Downside Up - Part 5-Soliloquy - Part 6-Single Malt Solution - Part 7-Redemption? (10:00) / Time, And No Words With You (5:01) / No Mas Uvas (4:08) / Do You Wish To Know (5:09) / Expectations Reprise (0:56)

Musicians:
Alex Kley - bass
Christopher Scott Cooper - guitars, vocals, keyboards
Chris Trujillo - drums, vocals

Guests:

Gustaf Fjelstrom - bass (6)
Benito Cortez - violin (2)
Neil Panton - piano (2)
Tom Carr - vocals (7)
Lance Nottie, Janice Iraci, and Mark Bruhn - broadcast voices (1)
Commy Tarr - The Rant (6)

Discography:
Fractured (1995)
Affects (1997)
Expectations (2001)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: May 8th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.new-sun.com
Hits: 1272
Language: english

  

[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]