Atlantis - Atlantis

Year of Release: 1997
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:59:00

In another case of expecting one thing and getting another I offer to you the Los Angeles based band Atlantis (not to be confused with the Norwegian band of the same name). Despite having played their preview cassette of tracks from the upcoming Pray For Rain, I was expecting a more prog metal band than a symphonic rock band. And while I'm happy with either genre, the highly symphonic sound came as surprise. Perhaps it is because there is a harder edge to where they are at now than where they were in 1997, when their self-titled album was released.

It hard to spot any one influence in Atlantis music - "Beyond Your Horizon" is vaguely Yes-like. There are some moments where I thought of Rush, but the keyboards of Teknobudd and the vocals of Ken Jaquess mostly drive this album. That isn't to suggest that it's all keys and voice, as there is percussion in there, too, (Matthew Hedrick) and some quite interesting percussion, as it happens. Jaquess isn't a great vocalist, as sometimes he's a little flat. Tone aside, Jaquess sings in a somewhat dreamy way...somewhat out of focus, say, a little fuzzy around the edges. These aren't criticisms, mind you, merely descriptive. He seems quite cheery here on "...Horizon."

While the music is very pleasant, I find myself wanting a little more punch to it, something to make the arrangements leap out of the speakers. Not necessarily a metal edge, but some more oomph in the production (from the sample tracks on the above-mentioned cassette, it does seem if this is a direction they're taking). Because the mix puts almost everything into soft focus much of the dynamics are lost. "Little Man" is an acoustic guitar and keys based piece and there is a nice keyboard melody. There is a certain honesty in the lyrics that make this song seem quite personal, as if either Jaquess or Teknobudd (Jorge Vazquez) lost a son. Both are credited with all the compositions, except for the instrumental "The Olde King" which also includes T. Morgan.

I do like it, but I'm not overwhelmed by it. The future promises much more and we'll check in again when Pray For Rain is released (if it's not already out by the time you read this). I do especially like the atmospheres that open and close the album, more so that which closes the album. Spacey washes hang in the air, creating tension as a drum slowly beats, bass hums, and keys parp and swirl. Yes, I'd have to say that the outro to "Run From The Past" is the most intriguing part of this album. Maybe not the most unique as one can imagine that Tangerine Dream have been there already, though this is also a bit Rush like (not as heavy as Rush, but a similar rhythm as what they were doing in the early to mid-eighties.

A word about the booklet: The lyrics are laid out in shapes representing the underlying theme of the song - "One For The Money" is arranged in a dollar sign, "Trail of Doubts" in a question mark, and so forth, "Deus Ex Machina" in the shape of a cross, etc. Because I think about such things, I immediately thought of the 17th Century English poet George Herbert who arranged some of his poems in just such a manner - "The Altar" in the shape of an altar and "Easter Wings" in the shape of two pairs of wings. Of course, in the more than 360 years since Herbert composed his works, these two are certainly not the only ones to have done this.

Trail Of Doubts (8:07) / Deus Ex Machina (6:44) / The Olde King (6:51) / Beyond Your Horizon (11:19) / One For The Money (3:59) / Little Man (5:12) / Run From The Past (10:47)

Ken Jaquess - bass, vocals, guitar and pedals
Teknobudd - keyboards, programming, space bar
Matthew Hedrick - drums and percussion

Atlantis (1997)
Pray For Rain (2002)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: November 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 958
Language: english


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