Product - On Water

Year of Release: 2000
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: 01POW
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:24:00

The thing I was most struck by in listening to Product's On Water opus was how much it mixed in lyrical and sonic elements from Marillion's 1997 album This Strange Engine. Water was a preoccupation of Hogarth and Helmer in penning the Marillion album, and water plays a very large role here on On Water, a title that cleverly has multiple meanings: "on water" as in about water and "on water" as being on the surface. The album's concept touches on both these meanings - in "Eye For Eye" the lyric is: "A few rules on water / you have to know what her name is / you have to know where she's been / and you've got to know where she's going / you've got to trust her spells." The story of the concept concerns a ship and its crew, and is told from the point of view of a drowning sailor. And the setting is the Revolutionary War period, with elements said to be based on The Nagle Journals.

What I especially think of in regards to Marillion is the tracks "Memory Of Water," "Estonia," and "This Strange Engine." So, if you can imagine a combination of all three, different elements at different times, then you'd have a pretty good idea what Product sound like. There are moments here, too, that made me think of mellow Porcupine Tree, and of Alan Parsons Project. However, being for the benefit of those not so familiar with the Marillion album (or Porcupine Tree or Alan Parsons Project), here is what you can expect.

Much of this album is understated and very acoustic in some ways a very dreamy feel, as the gentle music carries you along ... like ocean waves. The guitars and synths set much of the atmosphere and tone, the latter adding bits of colour here and there, though starting things off with dark synth washes. There are scattered turbulent eddies (percussion mainly), but these never last long, once past the initial track which goes from acoustic guitar (Danny Flores) and voice (Arman Christoff Boyles) to angular bombast to mellow synths, angelic vocalizations (male and female) heightening the dramatic feel. These give way to martial drumming that cuts off suddenly.

It is during the more bombastic moments that you can most hear the drum work of Scott Rader, who also plays bass and guitar on the album as well. In fact, the album features a total of three bassists, though one suspects not simultaneously. Besides Rader, Les Bloome and Todd Anisman contribute bass, the latter also contributing guitar. In the sonic mix, too, are French horn (Lee Ingram), violin (Nate Tuleson) and additional vocals by Marianne Joan.

As much as Boyles sings like Steve Hogarth, during "Yardarm to Yardarm" I also thought of Rob Hyman, once vocalist with the Philadelphia band Hooters. And I'm reminded of one of the tracks off their debut, "Where Do The Children Go," which, unlike their "hits" from that disk, was relatively mellow. And, as I mentioned above, Boyles also sounds a little bit like Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson.

This is not a happy album, as it concerns a very gloomy story -- drowning at sea is rarely a happy occasion. And yet, it's an album that drowns you in atmosphere. It's an album for those who spend as much time thinking about their music, about the themes and concepts, as they do listening to their music. If there are any negatives, it is only that this may be too subtle for it's own good. There are sections between tracks that are extremely quiet, where you either think there's nothing on the CD (the first 30-40 seconds) or that the album has ended (various points throughout). And to enjoy any of it short of using headphones, you have to have to volume turned up quite high. It's not an entirely bad thing, in that you won't have your neighbors calling the cops because it's too loud (well, depending on what sort of neighbors you have).

Sound Clips: Kinesis (RealAudio)

Raising Of The Mainsail And A Song For The Damned (6:59) / Eye For Eye (4:20) / When The Smoke Fades Away (5:03) / Water Bodies (3:35) / Yardarm To Yardarm (2:45) / Safe Harbour (1:16) / London Towne (3:45) / You (3:26) / Islands (6:15) / Lemmings (7:39) / Ghosts (3:55) / Underwater I (1:04) / Without You (5:25) / Underwater II (1:02) / On Water (6:05)

Arman Christoff Boyles - words and music, vocals, guitar and synth
Scott Rader - drums, bass, and guitar
Danny Flores - bass, classical guitar, mandolin
Marianne Joan - vocals
Nate Tuleson - violin
Lee Ingram - French horn
Les Bloome - bass
Todd Anisman - guitars and bass

On Water (2000)
Aire (2003)
The Fire (2005)
Earth (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 1st 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 498
Language: english


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