Animator - Gallery

Year of Release: 1990
Label: Rotamina Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:34:00

Animator were (are?) a progressive rock band based in Illinois, who, as far as I can tell, released only this disc, Gallery, back in 1990. The album opens with a beautiful piano piece by Stacey Kreici ("A First Impression"), more contemporary instrumental than progressive rock (I'm thinking of David Lanz here actually). The sound is light, crystal clear, such that you can hear every note being played. This seques into the second track, which is of a mellow progressive rock style...oh, say, Marillion circa Holidays In Eden. The vocals here are good, a little off at times, a little flat, but not so much that it can't be overlooked.

There is a spiritual element to their music...but not so concrete and steeped in religion that they can't have a broader context. The arrangements are suitable light and airy, aided by the vocals, where even in harmonies they are tending toward the higher ranges...oh, I guess Jon Anderson (Yes) would be a good comparision, though the tone here is different - vocalist Tim Brooks wouldn't be confused for Anderson nor considered a clone. There are times, too, when Brooks reminds of Steve Hogarth, more in delivery ("Choices") than anything.

The arrangements can be dense and complex enough to almost bury the vocals...they come across stronger with more heft behind them. The keys have a very strong Mark Kelly influence, also most apparant on "Choices." On "Natural Right", the intro has a feel going back a bit to early Marillion. And yet, aside for those moments, you wouldn't mistake this for a Marillion disk. Actually, there's a stronger tendency towards a Jadis feel. The playing on this entire disk is very good, and despite the influences, sounds very original (for the most part).

Anyone who knows me also knows that I am not a religious person. But I can find some affinity in the lyrics of "Natural Right" fact, I wrote a paper once for a college English class that has a similiar point of view - perhaps mine was more strongly stated...nevertheless, Animator comment upon the human condition and the human superiority complex (my term, not theirs): why we fight wars, why we think we are the "ruling" species. I won't rewrite my paper here...but...what of our advances have benefited anyone other than ourselves? I would venture to say that...this is not the forum for such an essay.

"Lady Splendor" is an elegant song that Brooks has dedicated to this mother - so often people pass away before we've had a chance to tell them we appreciated them...this song conveys that in a simple (but not simplistic) way.

There are other stand out tracks here - "Weary," "Inward Collapse," the latter of which begins with echoed and harmonized vocals, creating a strange effect. After this, it becomes a mostly instrumental track where Rik Ruzga's guitar plays a longing, crying lead. Being the sucker for great guitar playing, this is right up my alley. Give me a guitarist that can play, sustain, caress the notes with a great depth of feeling over a technical speedster any day.

If you like meatier progressive rock, you will probably find Animator (if you can find Animator) a bit lightweight. Actually, this would even be a lighter version of Marillion. The hardest driving track is "Set Adrift" (my personal favourite track here). I find there is a small Neil Peart influence here in the lyrics, the use of metaphor to describe our interpersonal relationships.

It took a while for this disk to grow on me, but after several listens, I found much to like about it. Recommended, though not neccesarily essential listening.

A First Impression (3:06) / Cycles (7:19) / Choices (8:04) / Natural Right (7:20) / Lady Splendor (5:00) / Set Adrift (5:24) / The Real World (8:35) / Weary (6:59) / Inward Collapse (4:04) / Room With A View (8:14) / A Second Chance (1:49)

Tim Brooks - lead and backing vocals
Jay Hawkins - bass, midi pedals, and backing vocals
John Hawkins - drums, percussion and backing vocals
Stacey Kreici - keyboards and backing vocals
Rik Ruzga - electric and acoustic guitars

Gallery (1990)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: September 1st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1698
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]