Drummer, keyboardist and vocalist Mark Murdock hails from Phoenix, Arizona (USA). He played in a local jazz-rock band called Seacloud that gained only local recognition. Murdock's British connections led him to meet up with Phil Collins and Brand X and later on with the late Peter Banks, the original guitarist with Yes. He joined Banks with his band Empire. Over the years Mark Murdock recorded several albums. So far I've never had the pleasure to listen to any of his albums until lately, when I received the album Cymbalic Encounters. It features several well-known guest musicians such as keyboard player David Sancious (Peter Gabriel), keyboard player Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard, K2), guitarist John Goodsall and bassist Percy Jones, both former members of Brand X.
Cymbalic Encounters contains eight instrumental and six vocal tracks, and a bonus track on which Murdock sings. However, this additional track isn't mentioned at all! The album has more or less two sides. On the one hand music related to styles like jazz-rock, fusion and progressive rock. These are mostly instrumental pieces. The opening piece Goodsall Funk Railroad / Ballad Of Percy Jones is a good example. This instrumental piece is reminiscent of the early albums of Brand X due to its tight and funky groove and the soulful guitar melodies. Another fine example is the title track which has a mellow atmosphere dominated by the guitar sound of John Goodsall. On the other hand I heard more commercial sounding pop-like tunes with catchy hooks. These are mostly the vocal pieces like Until The Sun Is No Longer and Artificial Society.
The involvement of several guest musicians certainly made this album more interesting for a wider range of music lovers. What to say about Ryo Okumoto, who played some fantastic Moog synthesizer parts on Kaiten Zushi? Or David Sancious with his wonderful piano and synthesizer parts on Waters Of Marsh Harbour, a piece that he co-wrote with Murdock? Or what to think of John Goodsall and Percy Jones, who can be heard throughout the album giving it a strong jazz-rock and fusion feel? We may not forget Joe Berger either, who provided some bluesy and soulful lead guitar parts on four tracks and who mixed and mastered the album. All in all the combination of the progressive rock and related styles with the more pop-like tunes worked out perfectly on Cymbalic Encounters.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?