In 2009 I got a tip from a musician to listen to the music of Cosmograf. This way I discovered the album End Of Ecclesia (see review), a strong concept album written and produced by Rob Armstrong. He was also the one who played most of the instruments on this record and he also attended to the vocals. I found this album really special and a strong progressive rock album. Therefore expectations ran high for his next one. In the meantime Armstrong found a descent record company to release his albums with. His first two albums Freed From The Anguish (2008) and End Of Ecclesia (2009) were both independent releases.
Now, two years later and after a lot of hard work, Cosmograf comes up with its third album When Age Has Done Its Duty which is again a concept album. This time the subject deals with growing older and coming to terms with it. He wrote the lyrics on account of his personal experiences with this issue within his family. For this album Rob Armstrong (vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass) was assisted by several other musicians in order to record a professional sounding product. On most tracks Bob Dalton (It Bites) played the drums. His good friend Steve Dunn did some bass parts and Simon Rogers, who co-wrote On Which We Stand, played the electric and the twelve-string guitars. Both musicians are members of Also Eden. Rob asked Luke Machin from The Tangent to play some guitar parts, Huw Lloyd Jones, former singer of Also Eden, did the lead vocals on Memory Lost and Steve Thorn did the same on the title track. Finally Lee Abraham (ex-Galahad) played guitar and bass and Dave Ware did some additional drum parts.
When I listened to the album for the first time I was a bit disappointed, because compared to End Of Ecclesia it sounded quite differently. I think the album sounded just too mellow for my ears and so I couldn't get a grip on it. But after spending more time on When Age Has Done Its Duty I discovered that the music gradually grew on me. The real beauty was just lying under the surface, which is of course the merit of Mr. Armstrong. So please don't throw this CD in a corner after listening to it for the first time! Preferably you have to listen to this album through your headphones. By doing so you'll hear far more details like the sound effects of barking dogs, marching bands and lots of human voices. These are all part of the concept. In this respect you can compare this album with the music recorded by Roger Waters. He also included several soundscapes on his solo albums and partly on the albums he made with Pink Floyd.
Pink Floyd has also been one of Cosmograf's biggest influences. Throughout the album these influences are clearly noticeable. Especially the guitar solos have been inspired a lot by Dave Gilmour, but also the orchestral parts plainly tend towards an album like The Wall. However, Rob Armstrong also found inspiration in the music of the sixties and seventies just like on his previous album. For example Blacksmith's Hammer contains that sixties feel that many protest singers had in those days. People like Pete Seeger (Where Have All The Flowers Gone) and Bob Dylan (The Times They Are Changing) might also have been an inspiration for him. Another fine example is Bakelite Switch. This track seems to be inspired by Space Oddity from David Bowie. On Which We Stand obviously represents the early sound of Genesis. The synthesizer solo played on this piece made me think of the solo on Lucky Man by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. This musical trip down memory lane becomes even more enjoyable thanks to the marvellous art work on When Age Has Done Its Duty. This has been wonderfully done by Graeme 'Twig' Bell, just like he did on the EP of Also Eden Differences As Light.
For people who fancy Pink Floyd and Roger Waters this album can hardly be missed. That's for sure. But I would also like to advise people who love progressive rock in general to listen to the music of Cosmograf. However, don't forget your headphones and don't let yourself be distracted while listening!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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