Nowadays the first release of a new album is mostly on CD before a vinyl version is available, but with Pictures Of You, the debut album by DBA, it was just the other way around. The abbreviation DBA stands for Downes Braide Assosiation, a musical collaboration of Geoff Downes and Chris Braide. Both musicians have been very successful in the music business throughout the years and they have sold millions of albums. Downes is best-known for his work with The Buggles, Asia and Yes, while Braide is known as a multi-instrumentalist and producer, who cooperated with Lana Del Rey, Christina Aguilera and David Guetta, just to name a few.
The considerable talents of both were combined to make a concept album dealing with a fan's view of the decline of his idol. To create this album they wrote, produced and performed all the music together. The music on Pictures Of You can be described best as an update of the electro prog-pop of The Buggles, mainly due to the use of a drum machine instead of a drummer of flesh and blood and by the overall sound of the compositions. I think the highlight of the album is the opening piece, the thirteen-minute Sunday News Suite which Braide described as 'a classic Yes-style elongated piece played by machines'. I guess this piece won't get much airplay on radio stations at least not in its entirety, although it contains rather modern dance beats. It's divided into four parts: Sunday News, Islands, Goodbye Johnny and Anywhere. All these parts remain entertaining throughout. Sometimes they sound rather mellow, at other times more up-tempo.
Braide's modern pop vocals combined with Downes' typical rich and anthem-like orchestrations work very well. Occasionally you hear ambient noises and irresistible choruses as well. Every now and then the music reminded me of a poppy Marillion or Asia, but also Downes' project The Producers with Trevor Horn, his old buddy from The Buggles, crossed my mind. Even the latest Yes album Fly From Here (2011) has left some traces on this fine composition. Other highlights are The Radiant Children and Sky Sailor of which the latter ends the album in a mellow, but nevertheless strong way. However, I found it rather strange that Ride The Waves echoes the opening theme of The Buggles hit Video Killed The Radio Star.
If you consider the albums recorded by The Buggles to be fine records you'll certainly enjoy this top-notch production by the Downes Braide Association. Although Pictures Of You contains contemporary pop elements, it doesn't lack musicality at all. Both musicians wrote, as I would call it, outstanding art-pop music with wonderful melodies that sometimes tend toward what we usually call progressive rock. Especially the way Geoff Downes delivered some refined and beautiful orchestrations throughout the eight compositions, is just great.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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