Mark Rowen - Radiance

(CD 2018, 64:02, Private Release)

The tracks:
  1- Opening Move(1:47)
  2- My Shadow Walks Alone(5:15)
  3- Feel Like Letting Go(5:37)
  4- On The Blue Horizon(5:01)
  5- The Reason Why(6:55)
  6- Time To Leave(4:46)
  7- Lure Of The Siren(10:24)
  8- Carousel(7:07)
  9- Trick Of The Light(4:50)
10- Love Is Like A Rock(8:17)
11- Shine(3:58)

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Website info. I have always felt this way ever since I was first given a little acoustic guitar at the age of 8, which I promptly painted light blue and hid behind the sofa. The first tune I was able to pick out, was the mandolin line to Lady Eleanor by Lindisfarne. I heard 21st Century Schizoid Man for the first time. I traded my clubs in for a black Les Paul copy. I wanted to be Fripp. Lots of influences were absorbed over the next 20 odd years, ELP, Marc Bolan, Wishbone Ash, Genesis and Paul Kossoff. Probably the biggest step-change was then hearing and seeing Pat Metheny for the first time. It had everything including musicianship of the likes I had not heard before. An off-shoot of this was also the intriguing character and music of Django Reinhardt. I'll gloss over the period of playing in various covers bands. A leap through time to the 2000's and an opportunity to play original music with a band called Breathing Space (an offshoot from Mostly Autumn) and with it the chance to record a CD with some of the music I had composed. This was a great experience, the album was well received and the plaudits were encouraging. When Breathing Space ceased to be I felt inspired to try my hand at recording a solo album, and after 5 years of hard work I can now finally say, here is my solo album Radiance.

Mark has recruited his ex-Breathing Space bandmates Paul Teasdale (bass) and Barry Cassells (drums) from Stolen Earth (that also hosted ex-Mostly Autumn singer Heidi Widdop). On his first solo album Mark presents 11 melodic and harmonic songs, ranging from mellow atmospheres (with twanging acoustic guitar, tender piano or spacey synthesizer flights) to rock guitar driven catchy mid-tempo beats (with powerful Hammond organ and fiery guitar solos). Apart from the instrumental opener Opening Move (powerful electric guitar and fat Mini Moog flights, in the end the sound of helicopters) and the alternating, very strong epic composition Lure Of The Siren (vocals by Donna Marie Bottomley) the singer is the outstanding Lisa Box, she easily switches from a wonderful dreamy voice to powerful vocals in a rock climate.

My highlights.

The Reason Why (6:55) : First a slow rhythm featuring dreamy Hammond, piano and vocals. Then halfway through a sensitive electric guitar with fiery runs, followed by a sumptuous atmosphere. This is tastefully coloured with piano, synthesizer, Hammond, electric guitar riffs, it sounds very compelling. Finally, a propulsive raw rock guitar sound, Mark delivers strong and varied guitar work, but the focus is on rock.

Lure Of The Siren (10:24) : This epic composition starts with the sound of the sea, in a bit ominous climate, then twanging acoustic guitar, dreamy vocals, soon the unsurpassed Mellotron joins with a majestic choir section sound. Next a shifting mood with rock guitar, tight drum beats and powerful female vocals, the flashy synthesizer solo is from Guy Manning (known from Parallel or 90 Degrees, Damanek, Manning and The Tangent), along a biting guitar solo and strong riffs. In the end a slow rhythm with synthesizer flights and again that awesome Mellotron choir sound, fading away, what a varied and exciting track!

Love Is Like A Rock (8:17) : First a strong rock guitar sound, blended with mellow Hammond waves, then a slow rhythm and dreamy vocals. Halfway a sensational break with rock guitar, a powerful rhythm-section and piano runs. It sounds first a bit hypnotizing, and then turns into a bombastic mid-tempo featuring sparkling piano, propulsive rock guitar and powerful drum beats. Now the mood shifts into dreamy with piano and soaring keyboards, finally a catchy beat, culminating in bombastic rock with fiery guitar runs, rock guitar riffs and keyboards. This is another strong and varied track that showcases the excellent tunesmith skills of Mark Rowen.

Shine (3:58) : This short final song starts with voices and dreamy keyboards, then tender piano and vocals. Halfway a slow rhythm with emotional vocals and piano, embellished with a long and moving guitar solo, Mark shines in this beautiful mellow piece.

Mark Rowen has delivered a pleasant and varied first solo album, with the focus on melodic rock, topped with strong vocals and tasteful work on guitar and keyboards.

***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Dave Smith)

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