Cairo consists of mastermind Rob Cottingham (vocals, keys, programming & SFX), Rachel Hill (vocals), James Hards (electric & acoustic guitars), Paul Stocker (bass & acoustic guitars) and Graham Brown (drums & percussion). The album is engineered, mixed, mastered and produced by the well known John Mitchell (It Bites, Kino, Arena, Frost*) together with Rob. We know Rob from his former band Touchstone.
Looking at the cover of the disc it becomes directly clear because you see a person with tape at his mouth and looks scared. Apparently he may not 'say' anything. My thoughts come alive.... on to the music.
The wind blows and the keys start. I hear Middle Eastern rhythms, a djembe and what else? I hear all instruments in this track, Cairo, as if the band is introduced. For me it is an overwhelming, opening track, totally instrumental and sometimes bombastic.
Then we go further, Shadow's Return Prologue, a man tells the story, assisted with music and sounds to create a tension curve. Sometimes this kind of song annoys me, but not this time, it fits perfectly. Scary keys start in Shadow's Return. Through the music you will be on your guard directly. There is a huge cohesion between the music and lyrics, great job! In the song Say is a beautiful solo on guitar and also a fantastic solo on keys. Just as in Wiped Out all music support the lyrically story. Nothing To Prove is the longest song with its 9.30 minutes. Again there is a lot of tension that is built up, that is really familiar to all music on this album and makes it a fantastic ride. All instruments come and go in this song, every instrument gets its well deserved spotlight.
The Hurricane Katrina from 2005 and all the impact that that hurricane had, is translated in the song Katrina. A real emotional song. And then we enter the song Searching. For me it is THE song of the album. It starts with a beautiful piano interlude that touches you so deeply that the only thing you can do is cry. Rob and Rachel both singing the stars of heaven here. It is an overwhelming ode to your lost loved one. Musically the piano themes are repeated during the song. There is, another time, room for all instruments, but exactly what is needed, not too much or too little. This song is so wonderful to me, I can listen to it over and over again.
The tracks Random Acts Of Kindness Part I and Back From The Wilderness are good songs. Dancing The Gossamer Thread is an ode to Chris Mantle (27.12.1962 - 09.06.2015). It is, again, a great song with a fantastic guitar solo, splitting, honorable and cutting.
Well, the album is finished, I really am sorry to tell you that. But hey, do not be sad, there is a play-button on your player. And that is exactly the thing that you want to do, over and over again. This piece of music is so modern prog rock that I think it is brilliant.
This album is an adventure in its self, lyrically and musically. You can always feel the threatening fear. There is a lot of Rob and Rachel singing together and that fits well. All-in all it is a good album to me, I am curious what will come next....
****+ Michel Stolk (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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