Miner's Art Rock Circus, John - A Passage To Clear

Year of Release: 2001
Label: The Tributary Music Label
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:27:00

Throughout generations of progressive rock tradition, the concept album has been one of the most sacrosanct and revered institutions to ever surface among bands and be devoured by fans addicted to that rush. The mere mention of a storyline going through a collection of songs will immediately make people perk their ears up, and even the sauciest of listeners will actually be subdued by it. Musicians themselves are certainly not immune to the effects of a concept album either, and will often try the limits of their abilities in order to make one and come up with the best material of their entire careers...or the worst.

Sadly enough, the latter seems to be the case with A Passage To Clear, one of John Miner's records going under the Art Rock Circus moniker. Generally dealing with the quite realistic and down to Earth concept of a female artist getting ripped off and deceived in matters of love by her male managers, the record is, put briefly, a rather uneventful affair with a dismal production. Some may actually suspect that the rather normal storyline has something to do with it, but the idea I actually found to be interesting and unique in a world where conspiracy theories, bizarre metaphorical adventures, and Dungeons and Dragons imagery are the norm. It's the way that the idea is brought to life that doesn't work.

And although there are quite a few elements that contribute to this, it is almost doubtlessly the production that kills everything off, as one can even hear the vocals on the record become saturated and distorted due to excessively high peak levels. Aside from that, Karen Renée's vocals sometimes manage to drift out of tune just slightly and thus acquire an annoyingly cacophonous sound; John Miner, whose smooth arpeggio style is in fine shape at one second, will suddenly branch off into some awful dissonance at another; and the songs in general just seem to drone their way through in a semi-conscious state. Even when things finally glue together and seem to be working quite nicely, as in the great instrumental beginning of "Underground" or certain moments of "Strange," they end up falling apart once again and just fall into more sonic disarray.

There are a couple of bright exceptions to the rule though; particularly in the beautiful voice of Karyn Anderson, which graces some of the album's musical low points in order to actually lift them out from their despair. Furthermore, some nice fragments of songs can eventually be dug out with repeated listens, and even the repetitive nature of a track like "Love" is actually not that bad after a while. It's just that A Passage To Clear is an attempt at stretching out and being more experimental that doesn't quite cut it, and which even without counting its obvious productions shortcomings comes across as nothing more than a collection of mostly bland, uninteresting, or even annoying work

Similar artists: Barclay James Harvest, early Procol Harum, Cream, folky Led Zeppelin

Stranger Of My Find (4:10) / The Promise (3:02) / Underground - A. Perceive, Transform, Release ... B. A Passage To Clear (4:58) / Clear (3:19) / Love (3:14) / Shadows Of Style (2:04) / Goodbye The Lie (4:18) / Strange (3:50) / Poetic Injustice (1:58) / Heaven (4:41) / Cosmic Cobwebs And Lollipops (3:05) / Alone (2:50) / Stranger Of My Find (Reprise) (1:57)

John Miner - guitars
Devon Lebsack - drums
Kelton Manning - bass
Karyn Anderson - vocals, keyboards
Karen Renée - vocals

Guest musicians:

Ken Wenzel - saxophone
Erica Syroid - violin

Lost My Way The Early Years 1990-1994 (1995?)
Heaven's Cafe (1996/2000)
Heaven's Cafe Live (1998/2000)
A Passage To Clear (2001)
Tell A Vision (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: November 17th 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website: www.tributarymusic.com
Hits: 1310
Language: english


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