Masson, Colin - Isle Of Eight

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Headline
Catalog Number: HDL-505
Format: CD
Total Time: 65:24:00

Colin Masson's Isle Of Eight is a full-length work consisting of three tracks, the first two 25 and 27 minutes, the third lasting 12 minutes. Masson's sound is one part rock, one part Celtic. There is plenty of stunning guitar work here -- and being one who loves guitar, well, I was in heaven listening to this. Masson is multi-talented however, playing, in addition to a variety of guitars, recorders, keyboards, percussion, and trombone. He's also responsible for the drum programming. And the album's artwork. And engineering and producing.

The tapestry of sound that Masson weaves will appeal to a wide assortment of progressive music fans, as there parts that made think of Yes and of Howe in particular, for example. Though one will also hear some Wakeman-like keyboard passages in the title track, which launches this album. Marillion (and Rothery in particular) also came to mind.

Everything flows together nicely, taking you on a journey. On "Isle Of Eight" alone, Masson contrasts pastoral and calm passages with heavier, and darker, rockier, passages. There are classically styled passages as well -- again, all this flows together quite smoothly. There even comes a point where I thought of classic Queen, mainly in that the guitar tones Masson uses for the energetic rock passage are similar to those oft used by Brian May. This is followed by a delicate, warm acoustic guitar passage -- vague hints at Jethro Tull (but maybe it's me).

Vocals on this track are courtesy Cathy Alexander, who has rich voice that is a cross between Maire Brennan, Mary Black, and Christine McVie. They are delivered in a hazy way, which I think of as being very Alan Parsons-like (in the manner of, for example, "Time").

"Total Eclipse" is the second track, which begins acoustically -- in a manner very much like Harry Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle," but it fairly quickly takes on a very Celtic aspect. It is light and ethereal, spritely in a springtime kind of way. This builds up to a very..."prog like" epic feel. Here again, Yes is a very good comparative example, sans the vocals of Anderson ... except that when the vocals do come in, Alexander does sound a bit (perhaps a lot) like Anderson. Elsewhere there are passages that have a Mannheim Steamroller quality, others that are much darker, heavier on the percussion and keys. Masson throws in a variety of other moods and textures as well - swirling keys, screaming guitar leads, driving drums and percussion. Or how about some raw and edgy classic Rush-like atmospherics? Masson runs the gamut.

"Return To The Northern Wasteland" is the final track is more along the lines of 90s Eloy, as the punchy percussion and heaviness here made me think of that band's Destination CD. And yet, some of the atmospheric bits that begin the track and reappear are almost Tangerine Dream-like. It's reminiscent of a lot of synthesizer rock created to accompany those computer animation videos (such as the Mind's Eye series of a decade or so ago). Here the drums seem the most synthesized, that too perfect repetitiveness that few (if any) live drummers can duplicate (and would we want 'em to?). Latter-day Pink Floyd also come to mind, mainly down to the shimmering guitar passages that have a Gilmour-esque quality about them. Is there any classic prog band that Masson doesn't seem to reference, even if by coincidence? (Well, yes; Crimson, ELP, and Genesis don't seem to be).

Overall this is a stellar release, its 60 minutes moving by rather quickly. There may be only three (long) tracks, but Masson packs quite a bit in there, all of it worthy of attention. Recommended.

Isle Of Eight (25:32) / Total Eclipse (27:06) / Return To The Northern Wasteland (12:56)

Colin Masson - electric, acoustic, classical and 12 string guitars, bass, recorders, keyboards, percussion, trombone, drum programming
Cathy Alexander - vocals (1,2), additional keyboards (3)
Ryan Masson - "random noises" (3)

Isle Of Eight (2001)

Genre: Progressive Folk

Origin UK

Added: February 8th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 660
Language: english


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