EYE is a Columbus, Ohio based progressive space rock group that was founded by guitarist Matt Auxier, bass player Matt Bailey and drummer Brandon Smith. They debuted with the independently released album Center Of The Sun in 2011. On this disc they were joined by multi-instrumentalist Adam Smith on a load of vintage keyboards including Moog and Mellotron. Two years later came Second Sight with guest musicians Amy Michele Hoffman (voices) and Anthony Jacobs (percussion and voices) and the year after they released a live disc, Live At Relay (it's a digital album only, if I understand correctly).
Then there was a total change in line-up, and the recently released third studio album now sees a band of: Brandon Smith (drums, gongs, bells, chimes, percussion, voices), Lisa Bella Donna (organ, Mellotron, guitars, synthesizers, voices), Michael Sliclen (electric and upright bass, percussion, voices) and Jon Finley (electric and acoustic guitars).
I have seen EYE's music been compared to Astra's and that is clearly a good point of reference. Other names to drop would be Nektar, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Hawkwind, although these names would neglect the clear jazzy influences that also appear in EYE's sound. Well, they are only points of reference. Let's look at the music on the new album that has been released on the great Laser's Edge label.
The album's first piece, Book Of The Dead, opens with a train load of Mellotron. That's a welcome sound to these ears and we are immediately settled in the retro-vintage prog field.
The second track, Kill The Slavemaster, is based on a hard rock pattern. The somewhat dull singing is not the strongest side of the band, alas. Well, not on this piece at least - the vocals are a bit strained in the heavier parts. There is a jazzy piece towards the end with pronounced bass and pearly electric piano (wonderfully) backed by more Mellotron before it all ends up in a space-y finale.
Searching has much more relaxed singing and it suits them much better. Boy, what band does this track remind me of? Wonderful music, anyway. Great riffs (guitar, bass), heavy psychedelic vibes all the way. And the guitar part around 3:15 minutes does remind me a bit of Jimi Hendrix. After that the band kicks loose in a brief power-trio-like jam (is that Rush I hear?) with some great percussion flying around.
Dweller Of The Twilight Void is the last short track. It opens with acoustic guitar and then grows very spacey (think of Eloy and Nektar). Wonderful, lush keys, Mellotron and wandering symphonic synths. One of my favourites. I have seen it included in some sample-CDs and that's a good choice because it provides a great introduction to the band.
Interestingly the four short tracks are over before you know it and we are introduced to the main dish. The almost half-hour long As Sure As The Sun is obviously the definite highlight of the album. The piece takes you through dramatic soundscapes, slight jazz-rock touches, awesome washes of Mellotron, cosmic synths and some passages even sound orchestrated (very well done as if there are real horns). Sometimes it is like listening to a symphonic, heavy take on Pink Floyd's Set The Controls For The Heart of the sun. Imagine a cross of that sound with Änglagård's debut and you might come close, and still that is only scratching the surface. At least you have an idea. The second half tends much more towards heavy progressive rock, but with that clear space-y undertone. Around 21 minutes we also have a piece of relaxed space-fusion (wonderful wandering synths that remind me among others of Jan Hammer along with some blistering guitar).
Like this music should, this album is also available as LP. The CD comes in a thick mini-LP sleeve like cardsleeve.
I have to find me the rest of EYE's albums!
**** Carsten Busch (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
Where to buy?
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