Most lovers of progressive rock know Mickey Simmonds. Therefore, I donít have to tell them that he played keyboards for Fish, Camel, Mastermind, Renaissance, Mike Oldfield, Judy Tzuke and Elkie Brooks . When I started reviewing prog albums back in 1996, my first review concerned Simmondís solo album The Shape Of Rain. That is a wonderful concept album based upon the story of a runaway girl. I mentioned that Mr. Simmonds could be very proud of his first solo album. I hoped that he was able to deliver a second album with the same high quality as The Shape Of Rain. The release of his second album, however, took eleven years!
The Seven Colours Of Emptiness, originally released in 2007, seems just now available on a larger scale. Just as his first effort, Simmonds made again a concept album, based upon two characters Mr. & Mrs., and the unknown depths of a coma. The album consists of one continuous piece of music that takes the listener on a progressive journey through many emotions, flittering between reality and fantasy. The concept may have some similarity with The Human Equation of Ayreon, but only as far as the story is concerned. That album deals with somebody who gets into a coma as well. On The Seven Colours Of Emptiness it looks like Mickey Simmonds did it all on his own. Most instruments came probably out of his computer and then performed on his synthesizers. That also includes the electric guitar solos and the strong rhythm parts. Most of the material is instrumental, but sometimes Mickey sings. He has a very relaxing way of singing that suits the music very well. On those tracks, the music reminds me of Camel. Back is a good example, but also Colin Towns came to my mind. Towns used the combination of melodic playing on the grand piano and fine emotional keyboard soloing as well for the soundtrack Full Circle. Voices, Journey, Send Their Love and Time To Go sound as music composed for a movie, but the compositions have a more classical feeling and they tend towards the work of John Williams for instance. We hear jazzy elements on Not Long Now. Open Door moves into the direction of Clannad. The overall feeling of this album reminds me of an album made by Rain several years ago. Cerulean Blue gave me the same mystical feeling as this album does. It also contained several sound fragments to intensify the music. The sound of a car crash awakens the listener at the beginning of this musical concept. At first, life looks pleasant and comfortable, no dark clouds on the horizon whatsoever. Then somebody steps into his car, making a very relaxing drive and suddenly, after an accident, you hear the sound of medical instruments. It makes you realize, that life is short and can change in a split second, so enjoy it all the time.
It is for the listener to decide whether the album has a happy end or not. Song titles like Open Door, Another Place, Time Waits, Not Long Now and Time To Go can be explained in different ways. I do not pretend to have found the answers, but what I do know is that The Seven Colours Of Emptiness is a musical trip that I enjoyed very much. I am sure that most of you will feel the same after listening to this fine piece of work.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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