Wednesday, 7 January 2015

EMPIRE: The Mars Tapes US review

Recorded at the Guitarist’s Mars Studio in 1979, The Mars Tapes is a collective post-Flash recordings that exposed that even that late in the game, as far as the golden era of art rock was concerned, The Architect of Progressive Rock never lost sight of the vision he possessed, as you can hear his trademark guitar technique and echoes of early Yes and how the foundation for prog rock guitar playing was laid down. The prevalent tape hiss and the age/condition of the tapes have cut out any crispness, so the sound is often rough, third multi-generation cassette, but that doesn’t mean that the electricity within the performance hasn’t been captured.
For the most part, jam sessions, the intricacy, and the ability to compose ditties that have hooks keep the listener on their toes which makes you wish that this would have grown into a finer master quality release. Through Tunes such as “Out of Our Hands,” “Off With The King’s Head” and the flamenco flavored “Sky at Night” (feat. Phil Collins on Drums), Banks’ steadfast mastery to dance around the arrangements and syncopated rhythmic intensity is exposed with strident fervor; plus the pre-new wave keyboards of the late 70’s give it that lurking AOR flavor for it’s day in the pre-pop era of prog that would be come to be known as ‘neo.’ Another snapshot in time, yet the even with the shitty sound quality and all, you have to admit that Banks was never one to stop bolstering creativity.

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