Five piece French formation Eye 2 Eye is rooted in 2006, in the same year this band released its debut CD entitled One In Every Crowd under the name Eye To Eye. But because an American band from the Eighties used the same name they changed their name into Eye 2 Eye. After the debut CD the band released 4 more studio-albums, this review is about the latest effort entitled Nowhere Highway, from 2020. I am only familiar with the 2009 album After All...: “simply structured but very pleasantly arranged compositions featuring moving guitar (between David Gilmour and Steve Rothery) and lots of Mellotron eruptions, the climates are obviously Neo-Prog (Marillion, Pendragon and Clepsydra). So how about the Eye2Eye music now 11 years later? And how about the concept? I asked Didier Pegues (drums and keyboards) via Facebook to explain the concept, he was very willing to do that.
“The part one talked about an artist who lost his girlfriend and stays in front of a blank page without knowing what he could write or compose. He lost his inspiration and takes a glass of whisky and begins to implore his old ghosts to give him that inspiration back. The new album "Nowhere Highway" begins where part 1 ends. Our 'hero' lives on Princes Street in Edinburgh. He still tries to find ideas, but he is disturbed by the noise in the street. He closes the window, continues to write things on papers, but he's not convinced and throws these in the bin. The TV diffuses the news and he decides to take another drink. But glass after glass, he begins to have a kind of veil before his eyes, until he falls in a coma that drives him to his own dreams, which takes place on a "Nowhere Highway" where everything is possible. Then he will try to find his own Muse. But what is the better way to get inspiration ? Can we find it when we have a Muse, or can your old ghosts give you enough sensitivity or bad feelings to write beautiful things ? We don't want to give any answer to that question. I think artists can find inspiration in many different ways. Some may find it in happiness, some others in sadness, some in alcohol, some in drugs, there are multiple answers. Our album is just a quest for the Muse, who is the principal entity for finding inspiration. We just talk about what may be the positive way for it (The Muse) and the negative way (The Ghosts).”
The new album contains 3 tracks between 6 and 9 minutes and 2 epic compositions, divided in several parts. But in fact this concept album sounds like an entire rock opera, from the narration in the start to the grand finale featuring awesome Mellotron choirs and tender piano play in the end. The songs contain lots of tension and dynamics, from mellow to up-tempo and exciting sumptuous outbursts. The colouring with keyboards (piano, organ, synthesizers and Mellotron), guitars (acoustic - and electric, wonderfully in the vein of Gilmour and Rothery) and violin is very tasteful. Singer Jack Daly adds a strong emotional element to the music with his often melancholy voice, and slightly theatrical overtones. The music still often reminds me of the glorious days of the early Neo-Prog, especially in the long title track Eye 2 Eye sounds mighty close to early Marillion (Grendel, Market Square Heroes), including a part with a church organ sound. The closing section presents the band at its full splendour. First an ominous atmosphere with theatrical dark vocals, soaring strings, tender piano and sensitive electric guitar runs. Then a bombastic eruption with synthesizer flights and fiery moving guitar. And finally dreamy with tender piano and Mellotron choirs, wow, this is very intense music!
Every listening session I am more delighted about this new Eye 2 Eye album, these guys have matured over the years and delivered an album that will please the fans of Neo-Prog, especially the Eighties sound from Marillion, IQ and Pallas.
***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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