Reviewed by: Charles Dauphin. www.profilprog.com
15 July 2016
"Hey! It's your lucky day. "The great Red Bazar circus comes to town with" Tales from the Bookcase ", their fourth album (if we include the EP" After The Ice Storm "published in 2013). The group, originally instrumental, enlisted the services of Peter Jones to add the vocal dimension. The result is a "conceptual" album without being "concept" under itself. Without following a single theme, the album listens like one would read a collection of tales.
In the introduction, the group wants to ensure capture our attention with a dark instrumental piece at slow pace, which the soundscapes are superimposed to create a floydienne atmosphere. After this introduction we find a collection of stories that I found interesting both in the music texts whose wealth knocked me down. For most songs, Peter Jones drew inspiration from his favorite novels for writing texts in order to tell us the tragic fates and sometimes cruel to his characters or to ask a reflection on our existence. This is the case, among others, the flagship piece of the album (in my opinion) "Lights of Home" which tells the story of HMS Ulysses (Alistair MacLean, 1955), a ship that was escorting a convoy to Murmansk during World war II. The melody alternates between the intensity of the naval battle against superior forces in an icy sea and introspection Captain Vallery leading his brave sailors to certain death.
"Queen of the Night" is a story in two episodes (the second and eighth album tracks). Jones plays the role of narrator, Queen, Man-Fort and the Master (which has the Queen as he owns the beasts of the circus). The singer and lyricist spread us all his vocal talent, sometimes power, sometimes smoothly. The melody is delivered and harmonizes perfectly with the tone of the story.
"Calling Her On" picks up where "A Space Oddity" left us (ironically the album was released the same year Bowie passed away). The song presents the wife of Major Tom as she must deal with the disappearance of her husband. The melody is first aerial and airy but becomes heavier as Mrs. Tom dark despair.
"Tales from the Bookcase" has everything I love symphonic prog. Rich and catchy texts, melodies and rhythms that are well supported by texts, shades, harmonies and musical bond between instruments and images that scroll in the head like being at the movies. In this 2016 years which is constantly surprised by the number of albums and musical quality available on the market, "Tales" is excellent figure and should be reflected in your collection.