Recently the British keyboardist Nick Magnus presented his fifth solo album N'Monix. His previous albums are Straight On Till Morning (1993), Inhaling Green (1999), Hexameron (2004) and Children Of Another God (2010, see review). Of course, my expectations for this new album ran high, since I gave the highest possible rating of five stars to its predecessor.
I think there's no need to introduce this excellent musician to the prog rock community, because most of them know him from his contributions to the music of Steve Hackett for many years. Therefore it isn't strange that most of his compositions are strongly related to the music of the former amazing guitar player with Genesis. On the new album Magnus is again influenced by the music of Mr. Hackett, but this time by Genesis as well. This is revealed on the opening tune Time which is wonderfully sung by Tony Patterson. The song takes you back in time when Genesis recorded albums like A Trick of the Tail (1975) and Wind And Wuthering (1976).
The second track Memory goes in a completely different direction. It's a beautiful piece with soprano vocals provided by Kate Faber. You could label this song as neo-classical music. Influences of Nick's former band The Enid can be heard as well. Next is Kid Kombat which features again the wonderful voice of Tony Patterson. The song deals with a young man who is addicted to wargames on his computer. That's why the musical war themes work very well at the beginning of the song. On Head Case the music appears to be a mixture between the prog rock of Gentle Giant and the kind of gentle pop rock style you may have heard on the albums of The Alan Parsons Project. On this track Nick Magnus' voice can be heard throughout.
More Genesis and Steve Hackett kind of music can be noticed on the next piece. Eminent Victorians features two musicians with which Magnus had worked while being a member of Steve Hackett's backing band, namely vocalist Pete Hicks and Steve Hackett himself. The latter also plays the guitar on the next two tracks of which Broken features the melancholic and warm vocals of Tim Bowness. I guess it won't be a surprise that this is a kind of ballad since Bowness' voice sounds best when he sings softly and gentle. Rob Townsend - well-known from the current backing band of Hackett - wonderfully plays saxophone and flute on Broken. By doing so this song comes close to a track of one of Hackett's most recent albums.
The next track sounds completely different compared to the one before. Shadowland is a short but strong, mellow instrumental track on which Hackett excels on the electric guitar. Again the classical influences emerge and once more touches of The Enid can be noticed. The sound of The Enid can also be heard on the intro of Entropy, the final song of N'Monix. It's a beautiful ballad on which you can enjoy the strong vocal performances of James Reeves. The track comes to an end with a brilliant 'guitar' solo, this time not played by Hackett, but by Nick Magnus on his keyboards.
N'Monix is a strong album recorded by one of England's finest keyboard players. However, I don't think Nick Magnus has surpassed his predecessor Children Of Another God, an album that got the maximum score of five stars. Unfortunately I can't rate Nick's latest album with five stars either although it comes pretty close. So my compliments to Nick Magnus who recorded again a marvellous prog rock album!
****+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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