Sometimes an album gets under the radar. This happened to me with an album that was already released in 2014. An album which certainly would have ended up in my top 10 of that year. I am talking about Cocoon by Tiger Moth Tales. I guess most of our readers also don't know who or what Tiger Moth Tales is. Well, it is in fact only one person, namely Pete Jones. The name Pete Jones is relatively unknown in the prog rock scene. This is not surprising, since the 34-year-old musician has - up to now - been more active in the commercial sector and did this quite successfully. Jones is a talented all-trades, masters countless instruments and also reveals himself as a brilliant composer and singer with a compelling voice. But the absolutely most fascinating thing is that he is blind since early childhood. At the age of four, he had his first piano and today, at age 34, he comes with his first progressive rock album.
The artistic name Pete uses reveals in a way which musician has influenced him to become a progressive rock musician as well and that is Steve Hackett. Those who are known to the music of this former Genesis guitarist also know that he once wrote a piece of music titled Tigermoth. This album certainly reveals his influence throughout the entire album. Taking you back many times to the days when Steve released fantastic albums such as Voyage Of The Acolyte (1975), Please Don't Touch!(1978), Spectral Mornings (1979), Defector (1980) and Highly Strung (1982). Mentioning Hackett often means the music of Genesis can be heard as well. On Cocoon this is also the case. All of the albums he made with Genesis must have inspired Mr. Jones as well. This is of course rather obvious! When you hear the album certainly other names come to mind. One of them is without doubt Rob Reed from Magenta and Cyan. He is also a multi-instrumentalist who was inspired by the music of the seventies. For him Mike Oldfield was a musical hero. Maybe that reminded Pete of himself and was this one of the reasons for Rob to sign him to White Knight Records, which he co-founded. Most of all the way Pete played on the synthesizers moved the music many times towards the music you can find on the albums released by Magenta and Cyan. But I did not only hear progressive rock on Cocoon. For instance on Tigers In The Butter I heard some Far East influences by the sound of what could have been produced by a sitar. The same track has, together with the composition The First Lament, influences taken from folk and Celtic music. Pete himself mentioned furthermore Big Big Train, Haken and Frost* as acts that influenced him. I can agree with the first mentioned name, but the last two really puzzled me. Maybe Frost* was mentioned because their brainchild Jem Godfrey used to write commercial tunes as well before composing progressive rock tunes.
Mentioning only possible musical influences does not do justice to this excellent album. You also have to know that Cocoon is a true concept album. The story of the album is a cautionary tale about three witches living on an island in the Artic Sea. It is brought with a lot of passion. You can hear a real storyteller and the sound of things that happen throughout the entire album gives the album a real cinematic feeling. In a way it is as if you are listening to a progressive rock version of Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings or The Chronicles Of Narnia. Maybe it would have been a good idea to have included a 5.1 surround version as well to enjoy the many sound effects the best possible way!
As for the eleven tracks on this release it's easy to tell that they are all of the same high level. Therefore mentioning any favourites isn't necessary. From start to finish you are entertained the whole way through, most of all if you listen to the album with eyes closed and with headphones on. This way a modern fairy tale unfolds in its full width and avoids fatigue effects on the listener. Simply because it is varied and the melodies are strong enough to create surprising moments over and over again. The many wonderful keyboard and guitar solos that lead the broad epics to repeatedly instrumental highlights. Several times you will be able to enjoy classical piano passages, which then suddenly turn into bombastic keyboard sound cascades. More than once they will lead to goose bumps and gives you shivers down your spine. And the work will be even better with each listening session.
I can only tell you how amazing it is how Pete Jones understood it as a solo artist to simulate a whole band. Often many one-man productions suffer from the weaknesses to let everything sound too sterile or over produced. Here however the whole album breathes that it is made by a human being and not made by computers. Even the programmed drumming sounds fit very well. Jones turns out to be very talented and technically gifted multi-instrumentalist and, moreover, imaginative storyteller.
Cocoon counts - not in the least because of the very successful musical connection between past and present - definitely to the most interesting contemporary discoveries and may be referred to as a must for all fans of melodic and complex progressive rock. Here you hear a musician that has shown that it is possible to record an album as a soloist that never gets boring or tiring. Highly recommend to all the Steve Hackett and Genesis freaks out there. But also those who enjoy the likes of Magenta and Cyan. I can only give the highest rating to this superb piece of art. Cocoon is for me a true masterpiece that hopefully will be followed by a lot more of them!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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