The Palimpsest is a project by one D. Brown, who is apparently known by the pseudonym Glamdave. When I read the accompanying biography, it is an old rocker who has been around for decades and has his roots in the so-called New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, NWOBHM for short. He is very familiar with neo prog bands a la Marillion and IQ. He wrote everything for this project and played it himself. In fact, he seems to have built some instruments himself. Apparently a creative man, this D.
Below is an explanation of how his music came across to me and what other things I may recognize in it.
It is striking that it is a concept album anyway. Most of the songs run into each other which is fine. In the story you are regularly taken outside, to another house, in the car, but above all it rains continuously. My suspicion is that the story takes place in England, because the stories go around that it always rains there too.
Hello opens the album. In the first moments you hear rain falling, a door opening and closing, a glass being filled. Then you hear the excitement of a baby's mobile and then it plays. Gradually you are sucked into the story by a narrative singer who is accompanied on piano. Interest has been awakened.
The Death Of The Only Child has a natural transition after Hello. This song is the second longest on the album, clocking in at well over 10 minutes. We start with a passage of prog metal, a beautiful deep guitar solo. The bass roars and the drums serve the song. There is a lot of variation in the song, from prog metal to Pink Floyd kind of moments to very poignant spoken lyrics between a couple who have a big fight. Towards the end of the song there is another cutting guitar solo, you now know that the child this song is about has died, you can just feel that in the solo. The tone is well set by this song.
The Stranger is the fourth song. It starts somewhat ominously and expectant. Guitar plucking and drums is heard, vocals have been tapped from another barrel, the singer can sing many styles. There is some Fish in it, both in vocals and music, but also some Roger Waters can be recognized, especially the ominous character. Again such a worn guitar solo supported by a keyboard carpet. The song has its own face, despite the references.
Then it's Questions turn. This time it starts with someone getting out of a car and walking a bit, you hear the stones or the sand under his shoes, again some ominous background noises. The person ends up in a house where he pours a glass, after 1.20 minutes you hear an acoustic guitar. The vocals coincide with Fish again. Once again you are immersed in a beautiful guitar solo, while the acoustic guitar continues to play along.
Lyrically, the song is about all the questions we can ask ourselves and how we deal with them for ourselves and whether we made the right choices. After drinking the drink, the man leaves the house and the song changes to I'm Tired. The song builds slowly with keyboard noises and a reflection that the person in question is tired of how he did it; all this supported by the quiet keyboard sounds. Very slowly there is more spice in the song, you feel the tension building, where is this going to? It stays under your skin until the song bursts open with heavy guitar parts supported by a wonderful rhythm section and supporting keys. In terms of guitar work it is a bit more menacing, also the following solo. As before there is really room for guitar solos, they just go on and on and that's nice to listen to. Nothing powerhouse but played with a lot of feeling.
After I'm Tired it is the turn of the longest song, Time And Tides. For a change it starts with the sound of rain, then a violin comes over that comes across as menacing, after which some more classically based music is played. It mainly takes the time to get in your body. It's a bit melancholy. A wonderful carpet of keys emerges from the keyboard, really pure neo prog. There is also room for this to last. The rhythm section has now arrived and things are getting a bit livelier. A beautiful interlude in the song. In this song it is the acoustic guitar again that plays along. I just have to tighten up the range of the singer again, because again he knows how to tap from a different barrel. As far as I'm concerned, the keyboards stand out most in this song. Under good guitar riffs the song gets heavier and the vocals are more powerful and menacing, it sounds a bit like the old Deep Purple. Nice guitar solo while the other guitars rumble on and the keyboards keep floating and everything sticks together. After this heavy episode, peace returns, a much more optimistic image sounds throughout the song. As if we went through a tough period of life and now it's finally good. The vocals also reinforce this by singing: it's time to move on.
We move on to Miss You, the eighth song. The song starts with a guitar solo, supported by the wonderful rhythm section. You will be immersed in nice 80s rock. Somehow this also sounds more or less very much like Marillion. It's not the most complicated music, but it doesn't always have to be. The solos on guitar are nicely driven and steer the song. As far as I'm concerned, this song could have been a bit shorter because of the repetitive character. Not much happens outside of the solos. It ends a bit sweetly due to some humming by the singer. You could also call it the most commercial song on the album, but the duration is too long to do anything on the radio.
The penultimate song is Maybe. The song starts with nice rousing guitar work, you are immediately picked up. The atmosphere is cozy, you imagine yourself with your friends and a nice beer in your hands while the band is playing on stage, that is the atmosphere of the song. It has a positive vibe. This song is also a bit less complicated, even a bit straight forward. You do get an intensly good feeling from it, so in that respect the song is very successful. Also here, by the way, some Marillion is heard. Apparently this band has been important to Mr. Brown. That's how I get the idea that good music doesn't always have to be very complicated. There is also quite a lot of keyboard work that sounds like a clock.
Closing track is Reprise which follows from Maybe. Some military drums start with a piano as in the opening track Hello. After a while there is another wonderfully cutting guitar solo that takes you to faraway places, wonderful! Beautiful vocal harmony, after which we hear the baby mobile again, after which the record is over. The circle is complete in that regard.
In conclusion, we can say that Primary has become quite a guitar-oriented album in which we hear various vocal styles from Glamdave, which makes it very varied. This music is easy to digest for people who like neo prog and who are not averse to a bit of prog metal now and then. If you are a fan of Marillion, you can definitely give it a try. The accompanying bio indicates that Glamdave has already started the next project, I am very curious how this man will develop in that regard. Had I not written a review of this album, this music would have passed my door and that would have been a shame. So: check out this album!
****+ Michel Stolk (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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