People who are familiar with the name Tim Hunter know that he's an American television and film director. However, more people share this rather common name and one of them is a British musician from North Yorkshire, England. Well, I'd never heard of him before until he contacted me lately. He told me that he's a prog rock musician and a songwriter. He wondered whether I would be interested in a copy of his latest album The Aura. After listening to some samples on his website I found out that his music is suitable for a review in Background Magazine.
On closer examination I discovered that Tim has been writing and performing his own material since the early seventies. Since 1998 he has already recorded seven CDs! However, most of his albums seem to be currently unavailable. As far as I know the only available titles are The Storm Is Coming (Compilation Of Songs And Instrumentals) (2010), The Pathway Of Light (2011) and The Aura (2012) of which Hunter sent the latter two for a review.
Tim Hunter plays most instruments such as keyboards, guitars and samples by himself. In addition he's a gifted singer as well; on some of the tracks he reminded me of the way John Wetton sings. He was clever enough to ask several guest musicians to play the drums and the saxophone and a guitar player to perform some excellent solos. Tim told me that he's influenced by progressive rock from the seventies and eighties and by high-levelled pop music. Well, in a way I could notice these influences on both albums.
On The Pathway Of Light you could say that high-levelled pop music dominates the album. Many of the rather simple tunes reminded me of Like Word Of Mouth (1991) and Beggar On A Beach Of Gold (1995), the more commercial albums recorded by Mike & The Mechanics. Just occasionally his compositions tend towards the prog rock style of music, like in The Precipice or Commercial Suicide. Especially the latter is a beautiful piece of music strongly related to the music of Pink Floyd.
However, while listening to The Aura I could hardly believe that this was the same musician! This time the more 'seriously' recorded albums of Mike & The Mechanics could be seen as a reference like Mike + The Mechanics (1985) and The Living Years (1988). Also influences of Pink Floyd appear more often than on The Pathway Of Light mainly due to the excellent guitar solos played by Phil Dean. But also the way Rob Corner played the saxophone made me think of Floyd. This album can be seen as Hunter's attempt to build a bridge between pop and prog. In my opinion the 24-minute epic Android Void is the ultimate highlight on The Aura on which many different moods can be heard.
If Tim Hunter continues making music the way he did on The Aura, he might become an interesting musician for people who buy prog albums. However, if he abides by the kind of music he made on The Pathway Of Light, I see no future for him in the prog scene. Anyway, people who fancy the music of Pink Floyd or the more progressive albums made by Mike & The Mechanics should give these albums a try.
Pathway ** Aura *** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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