Mike Kershaw began writing and recording in 2008 when redundancy forced him to give up working in finance after many years. Music was a way to stay occupied and suddenly it escalated and became all-consuming. He first released music under the name Relocate To Heathrow but began putting it out under his own name last year. Though influenced by progressive rock, he does not like to define himself by the genre and is not specifically influenced by one band in particular.
The Long Night is very much a labour of love by Kershaw in that it is a musical project which has obviously brought him much pleasure in its conception and making. Home produced, it would be unfair to judge it on the same footing as the many pro and semi-pro bands currently out there. However, its main concept deals with loss, loneliness and the desperate fight to hold onto the past. There is also a sci-fi story running alongside it about the sole survivor from an escape from earth on a doomed journey to a distant star.
The piano and synth opening of Miracles offers a promising start to the album. From here, Kershaw gives a short spoken narration before it reverts back to its Vangelis-like vibe.
Into the Sun is very much a rhythm drum and bass-led track, with some spacey synths interspersed, about the survivor's loneliness and guilt while he is travelling in his capsule to certain oblivion. Five of the tracks here tell the story but are interspersed with free-standing pieces to balance out the album. Does it work? From the compositional point of view, there are some interesting moments, such as the instrumental This Long Night, which blends together synths and acoustic guitar, evoking a pleasant dreamy atmosphere. Kershaw does master his keyboards well. However, what do not work on this album are his vocals. Progressive rock, by its very nature, demands voices which can act as an instrument in their own right. Throughout this album, however, his voice simply does not shine through over the musical parts. Summoning up memories of Jona Lewie at certain junctures, he tends to sing in one way without ever adding any great emotion or depth. However, the ending instrumental Our Journey's Done blends some gentle keyboard motifs together over an unassuming beat.
This is not meant to deter Mr Kershaw in any way as it is obvious he loves to play and create his own sonic soundscapes for his own pleasure. I hope he continues to do so but, at the same time, pay heed to some of the other music being delivered “out there”.
With a lovely illustrated cover by Freya Burrell of a small boy pointing into the distance, I applaud his enthusiasm and enterprise in writing, performing and producing This Long Night. But with so much great prog around currently, he might have to up the ante considerably for the next album if he wants to start attracting a much larger following.
* Alison Henderson
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013