Comedy Of Errors -
Time Machine

(CD 2022, 51:21, COE Music)

The tracks:
  1- The Knight Returns(6:32)
  2- Lost Demigods(5:20)
  3- Wonderland(15:30)
  4- The Past Of Future Days(4:35)
  5- Time Machine(12:22)
Bonus Track:
  6- Disobey (Live from Rosfest, USA, 2016)(7:02)

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Comedy Of Errors - now that is a name from the past... I remember reading about them in Sym Info magazine. And probably also in early Background Magazine... In my record collection you will even find the self-titled 1986 mini-album on vinyl. I also remember coming across the not-quite-so-legal CD on the French MSI label from 1990 in that small CD store in Geleen Zuid that was an annex to the video rental. Ah, memories!
Well, turns out that Comedy Of Errors is very much alive, partly with original members and quite productive during the last decade. Interestingly, the accompanying info sheet to this release does not mention any releases from before their 2011 comeback... But then, maybe they regard the new era as a new chapter of the band, and as far as I am concerned it is a chapter that they can be proud of, because the 2011 comeback album Disobey (see review) was fine, but the 2013 follow-up Fanfare & Fantasy (see review) a superb piece of wonderful neo prog that reminded pleasantly of the great bands of the 1980s.

Now here is their new album Time Machine, released in September of last year. Currently, the band features original members Joe Cairney (lead and backing vocals), Jim Johnstone (keyboards, backing vocals, recitation) and guitar player Mark Spalding with John Fitzgerald (bass), Bruce Levick (drums) and Sam McCulloch (guitars). While the band as a whole delivers a strong performance, I would say that Cairney and Johnstone leave the strongest impression. The former thanks to his solid vocal performance, the other with his almost omni-present keys.

Like their fellow Scotsmen Pallas, Comedy Of Errors play neo progressive rock of the somewhat heavier kind, and opener The Knight Returns does in fact resemble Pallas somewhat. Fast-paced, relatively aggressive and perhaps not what I would have chosen as an opener. However, it helps to make the album grab you by the throat. And it doesn't really let you go before it's over.
The second piece, Lost Demigods, is a bit more light-hearted. The main melody is on the poppier side. The track also incorporates bits from Beethoven's 5th and 9th (Ode To Joy) symphonies. As much as I love Beethoven (and also classical adaptations), it feels a bit of a shallow trick here. But perhaps I am doing the band an injustice. There may very well be a deeper reason why they chose to do this that has escaped me.
Anyway, the really good stuff from the album only starts afterwards because tracks three to five are the ones to go for on Time Machine. First up in this sequence is the over a quarter of an hour-long Wonderland. A great progressive rock track that takes the listener through several moods with some very fine instrumental passages in-between. And the 15 and a half minutes are over before you know it.
My secret favourite is probably the shortest track from the album, the fully instrumental The Past Of Future Days. I assume the title is a play on the famous Moody Blues album, but musically, I am most of all reminded of Rick Wakeman's adaptation of The Beatles classic Eleanor Rigby. The same quirky pattern is to be found. Lots of fun!
Then comes the other long track of the album. The twelve-minute title track opens slow paced. I would say the melody is majestic and the singing is fittingly restrained. Then, around five minutes a most wonderful instrumental middle part sets and, and I really have to correct myself - that middle part is really my favourite section on the CD, not The Past Of Future Days! Exciting instrumental interplay by electric guitars against organ and lush keyboards. This is exactly what I love in symphonic/neo progressive rock! Interestingly, some of the vocals on this piece are then in French, before launching into a climax.
This is where the album really should end and leave you with a reaction of “Now I need to play it once more”. However, there is a live bonus track added, cranking the playing time to over 45 minutes. They shouldn't have done so if you ask me. The live bonus track is, well, just that: a bonus track, for me it spoils a bit of the flow of the album, but I know that there are fans who not only want quality, but also quantity. There you go. I just need to hit the “stop” button in time.

For those who love great neo prog this album is a must-have.

***+ Carsten Busch (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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