Tristan Park - Looking Homeward

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Cyclops
Catalog Number: CYCL 070
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:29:00

I am not as impressed with Looking Homeward, Tristan Park's fourth release, as I was with A Place Inside. Perhaps it's because Chuck Dyac has left, he being the better of the two main vocalists, leaving Ray Bowles to handle most of the lead vocal duties. Bowles' vocals are a little off the mark, and the production sounds muddy.

Musically it is sound, and there are some good passages. Rick Black's keys on the opening track "Memorial Day" are quiet pleasant. And track two, "An American Tragedy - I" begins as slow jazz number, with Mike McAdam's guitars taking the lead, Black's Hammond vibrating underneath, but proceeds almost dirge like, tracing the path of a life - a slice of a life, really.

The closing track is "An American Tragedy - II," and as I write this, MSNBC (and CNN, too, I suppose) is devoting their airtime to a recent spree killing in Atlanta. And so this part of the tale is told from the point of view of someone who has just killed, drowned in this case, their loved one (spouse or girlfriend). These two tracks, or at least the first one, are inspired by Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy

Focusing on "Part 1," in the sixteen minutes of the track, it goes from the mentioned jazzy beginning, wending its way through several moods, including subtle keyboard and guitar atmospherics - slow motion dives and rises, odd bits of noises ... a la Marillion; actually, similiar to "Perimeter Walk" on Misplaced Childhood. Different instrumentation and tone, but a simliar dynamic ... the slow build to crashing drums and fervent vocals.

"Ambition" picks up the pace a bit, becoming a rocker around the chorus.

"The Cruelest Month" references October, though the topic here is really a disappointing World Series - or perhaps more specifically the Boston Red Sox (The Bosox' stadium provides the backdrop to the lyrics in book). As a microcosism of an apathic and discouraged US? Or maybe I'm reading more into it, except that with an album entitled Looking Homeward and song topics of a decidedly American theme, maybe not that far off. The simple beauty the cover conveys (and a beautful album cover it is) hides the dark underbelly of life in the US.

"An American Tragedy - II" is a very creepy song, mostly topically, but because it's imagery is so vivid ... it's eerie. And yet, only drawn with two lines: Watch the water drown my problem/she was my problem.

There's more going on in the song, but I won't detail it here. The saxophones, trumpet, flugelhorn are gone, taking away something from the band.

Well, despite all the gloom, I like the album overall - it is isn't a bad album, but something's missing. I recommend it, though not heartily, with this caveat - Bowles isn't the best of vocalists (though he's a lot better than some I've heard) and the sound production here isn't as clear as I'd like to be.

I must say, each October, around the time of the World Series, "The Cruelest Month" comes to mind; never more so than for last year's World Series ... when the BoSox finally won one! - SS 9/05

Memorial Day (8:08) / An American Tragedy - I (16:04) / Four Freedoms (3:02) / Ambition (3:20) / Mistress (3:30) / The Cruelest Month (5:05) / An American Tragedy - II (14:53) / Looking Homeward (3:27)

Rick Black - keyboards, backing vocals
Ray Bowles - lead vocals
Brian Coombes - basses, bass pedal, and lead and backing vocals
Mike McAdam - guitars, backing vocals
Jim Turmel - drums and percussion
Michelle Coombes - additional vocals

At The End Of The Day (1993)
A Place Inside (1995)
Leave To Enter (1997)
Looking Homeward (1998)

Genre: Neo Prog

Origin US

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 787
Language: english


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