Times Up are a band from South Wales and was formed in November 2006. This album, named Sea Of Schemes, is their third album. The album is recorded at Up The Lane Studios and mastered at Abbey Road Studios, which is not a small name of course. I do have to say that the album sounds fantastic! Very good production, it sounds neat and professional. There are always a lot of small bands that are brilliant but in the end the album is very disappointing because it sounds bad. This album sounds great while I listened to it on different audio systems and headphones. I have to admit that I haven't heard their previous albums before, but I do know that the band had some lineup changes and has changed a bit of their music style. I see it as some kind of 'advantage' because I can listen to the album without expecting certain 'typical sound' from the band.
The music reminds me of the good old 60s and early 70s progressive and light psychedelic music, but you cannot compare it to one typical band of that period. The keyboards sound very modern as well, you can hear some very cool space-like 'swoosh noises' in the track Chasing Ghosts for example. The musicians are very experienced, they play very tight, and I can't discover one sloppy bit on the album. Singer Linda Barnes has a very nice voice to listen to. She has a certain power in her voice and is not ashamed to use that power. Sometimes she gets very high with her voice and keeps the height fixed without any problem.
The album only contains 6 tracks, but the album is 50 minutes long in total. All tracks except Chasing Ghosts and Let The North Wind Blow are tracks with indexes, or so called 'chapters'. Some of those chapters have a bit of a weird theme course, like the chapters in the track Meat On Bones. The track starts with a certain chapter, then the chapter ends quite unexpectedly and the other chapter (that has little to no correlation with the earlier theme) begins while it's still the same track. Despite the strange theme transitions the album remains very pleasant to listen to.
The track When Kings Fall starts very haunting (dramatic violins, special sound effects), like something big and scary is coming, but suddenly the track gets a very surprising positive turn which I quite like. The track Snakes And Ladders has an awesome, slightly dirty sounding bass groove which carries the beginning of the song, and then it turns into a mellower track with great saxophone solos taking over the song. Some musical elements of the previous tracks return in the track Sea Of Schemes, like if the pieces of the puzzle are finally falling into place. The guitar intro from the track Let The North Wind Blow really reminds me of the guitar sound Steve Rothery used when Steve Hogarth started to sing in Marillion. The track starts beautiful, it's like an epic ending of a good story. Halfway the track is getting even more powerful and exciting, the guitar solo is getting heavier and the dramatic violins are back. And then the track (which is also the last track in the album) ends quite abruptly. It's like a book with an open end. I suspect that the 'musical story' is not over yet, and that the story will continue on the next album.
**** Iris Hidding (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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