People who are looking for CDs containing music which can be described as a tribute to the progressive rock music of the seventies or those who enjoy neo-prog rock can stop reading this review. This also applies to those who are into prog metal, fusion and jazz-rock related styles, because the British multi-instrumentalist Rhys Marsh (voice, guitars, pedal steel, bass, zither, Mellotron, Hammond, bells), who lives in Norway nowadays, creates music that has nothing to do with the above-mentioned musical genres.
Together with The Autumn Ghost Rhys Marsh already recorded The Fragile State Of Inbetween (2008) and Dulcima (2009), but I'm not familiar with these two albums. The Autumn Ghost is the name of a group of musicians who play in Scandinavian bands like Änglagård, Anekdoten, Wobbler and White Willow. The Blue Hour is the third release of Marsh with these musicians. Well, after listening to this album I must confess that it doesn't contain the kind of music that I like to play on a daily basis. I didn't expect this after reading all the guest musicians involved. The kind of music that these people perform with their own bands strongly deviates from what can be heard on The Blue Hour. Sure, you can hear the sound of a Mellotron, but never as prominent as on some of the albums recorded by the aforementioned acts, but only in the background to fill the empty parts or to replace an orchestra.
On The Blue Hour instruments like trombone, trumpet, bassoon, clarinet, oboe, tuba, timpani and glockenspiel are emphatically present. In a way they also sound like a classical orchestra. The eight songs on this CD are rather mellow and laid back and Rhys Marsh's peaceful vocals work very well. Most tracks sound very melancholic and intimate occasionally tending to jazz, post-rock, ambient, minimal and classical music. These compositions are carefully arranged and got enough time to build up with pace and rhythm changes throughout as well as mood shifts. The album as a whole has a very intimate, soothing effect and is a beautiful experience.
Rhys Marsh & The Autumn Ghost recorded an album that is largely focussed on creating lush atmospheres using most of the time unconventional instruments thus trying to sound like a real orchestra. I think this kind of music will appeal to lovers of acts as No-Man and Karda Estra, although you definitely have to be in the mood for listening to The Blue Hour!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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