Big Big Train -
Ingenious Devices

(CD 2023, 59:03, English Electric Records)

The tracks:
  1- East Coast Racer(15:46)
  2- The Book of Ingenious Devices(1:20)
  3- Brooklands(12:23)
  4- Voyager(14:11)
  5- Atlantic Cable (live)(15:23)

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Releases information. Songs 1, 3 and 4 (featuring the late David Longdon) are completely re-arranged with a 17-piece string section. East Coast Racer is a completely new studio version recorded by the line-up of the band as it was in 2019. Brooklands features newly recorded drums, bass and bass pedals, while Voyager includes additional guitar and violin. All three songs have been re-mixed for this release. Ingenious Devices also includes a previously unreleased orchestral piece called The Book Of Ingenious Devices which links East Coast Racer and Brooklands. Finally Ingenious Devices features a live performance of Atlantic Cable, recorded at Friars, Aylesbury in September 2022. The extensive line-up on this compilation features drummer Nick D'Virgilio.

Apart from the short instrumental track The Book of Ingenious Devices (melancholical sound with wonderful violins) this compilation features four varied and dynamic epic compositions that sound melodic and harmonic, with flowing shifting moods, wonderful work on guitar and keyboards, and topped with the beautiful voice of David Longdon (with that Peter Gabriel-like emotion) and the 17-piece string section. I consider Big Big Train as one of the best current prog formations, and what a tribute to the late singer David Longdon, one of the best prog singers in this decade. And let's not forget the outstanding work by drummer Nick D'Virgilio. My highlights.

I love the exciting blend of the electric prog sound and the 17-piece string section, the shifting moods, and the final part wonderful with violin and Mellotron choirs and strings, concluded with moving guitar solo and tender piano in East Coast Racer.

The focus is on sensitive electric guitar and the beautiful emotional voice, halfway dynamic and powerful with wonderful electric guitar and strings, and what an awesome interplay, in Brooklands.

Tasteful arrangements with mellow piano, inspired vocals and violin, a classical sound, and Mellotron choirs, halfway a break with flashy synthesizer solo, tight drum beats and rock guitar, and in the sumptuous final part emotional vocals, blended with Mellotron choirs and fiery electric guitar runs in Voyager, wow!

The final song is a live version of Atlantic Cable on which new lead singer Alberto Bravin does a fine job. First an intro with tender piano and violin, then a mid-tempo with the propulsive Rickenbacker bass, embellished with Vintage Keyboard Heaven (Hammond, Minimoog and Mellotron choirs) and moving guitar, goose bumps. In the second part we can enjoy spectacular work on the synthesizer and strong breaks, this is the most Old School track on this compilation, and I am blown away!

Not to be missed by any serious proghead!

**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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