To celebrate Progressivelyso’s 100th post we bring you, Twilight Fields from North Bay, Ontario! I thought what better way to commemorate this with some home grown talent! Featuring from the Gateless Gate/Khan Tengri – Allister Thompson who you should check out his other material for want of Ethereal/Ambient/Krautrock/Kosmische passages that will blow your mind just as equally as this album will! 12 songs that keep you going deeper with each track this album is a blessed piece of sound indeed. It’s one thing to just put an album on and let it go but when you dive head first in to the sounds than seep out of every facet of it and allow it to permeate the room your in and your head then you know it’s great because you will always have that same feeling every time to play it. Allister’s music does that to me as it will you and many other people. Another great piece to this album as with his other works they are like that of The Alan Parsons Project, you don’t get a sense of a year or decade for when it was released. Any thing that APP has put out over the years could easily have come out yesterday or thirty years ago. The timelessness of the music is a key factor to the intensity put in to it as well as the musicianship that flows from the brain to the hands to create the magic that is sound. Let’s dig in….
“Song of the End” opens up the album with a crash of chords that has me drawn back to 1985’s The Final Cut meets 1979’s grandiose double Lp, The Wall by The Pink Floyd with its lush tones and blending of sound here. This track captivates your senses to an even flow of water that ebbs and flows not quite gently but not a storm….yet. The late sixties rings through this one as well but form a UK/European perspective as opposed to the torrential upheaval of the American Dream in the music scene that The Doors and The Jefferson Airplane were catapulting through the minds of the electric youth. The psychedelia but modern age tonality here grabs your past, present and future all in one track. The effect of a chorus pedal on the guitars pours the guitar tones over like a silken waterfall on to the rest of the band. The drums are snappy and have taken their half tab of acid here as they meticulously play through their rudimentary patterns that bring forth that trippy vibe. Ethereal synths blanket the track in colourful atmospheres of space and distant planets along with the surrealistic vocals that chant their mantra to your ears and fill the room with this bonified opener. “Stars, As They Fall” jumps in next without hesitation and the static sweep of signals segue in to a charming breath of synth voicings as it pulls in the essences of the early 70’s Krautrock scene with a Kosmische feel to it where you are transported back in to a studio in Dusseldorf at 2am and the musty smell of the tan coloured carpets permeate the room. Nostalgia at its finest. A short but sweet burst of sound that leads us in to temptation for more of this record with the title track next,
“Further Up Further In”. Every great album never neglects the beautiful sound of an acoustic guitar and this track opens up with gentle chords that has you already prepared for the vocals that chant their way in and regale us its story. Ad lib electric bits from Sgt. Pepper’s closet of riffs that were never written but left the tone for someone to mould in to something great and here it is. Vocals that carry the troubadour/bard sentiment to it that has you in a lull as they glide over the music gracefully only to sadly end with the song you had hoped would continue onward. A pleasant ballad that gives the album its warmth and sustain as a classic statute to the Prog recipe and being the title track even the more so an important facet to the record. “Black Rain Fall” keeps the empathy of the album going and recalls the albums of bands like IQ, Asia and Marillion in the 80’s where the ballad with an edge was prominent and synths reigned and gave way to the beauty of their again plugged in power once more to music as they had been torn in to the synth pop static of the MTV generation only slightly earlier in the decade. This song gives us back that striking sound of the synths and the shapely guitar solo that soars in the middle break, the angelic harmonies that sing out the chorus. Drumming that stays the course and consistent to keep the pace of the song to allow the other instruments lead away but stay leashed to not get away too far from the refined foundations of this track. “We Were Young” is another heartfelt track here that has like Alan Parsons music, no time signature to it where it could have come from any of the last five or so decades. Prominent acoustic here that draws up calm passages and blissful tones while the rest of the music circles around it like moths to a flame as the vocals tell us more stories of life and memories that has you still paused in a lull. A song that could easily have you going for a kip in a good way as the chords and notes played here are as soft as clouds and unlike a lot of Allister’s other music that has you venturing in to deep space, this record brings you home by the fire, back home for the holidays and to be with family, it’s a great joy to listen to. The guitar solo here is very Gilmouresque as it drags the notes beautifully a la his On an Island solo album 2006 and the song musically evolves around the voicing which as with the other songs on the record are the most cordial and warm I have heard from him.
“Our Anthem (99)” calls me back to The Final Cut because it resounds around the theme of life and what we had been promised by our politicians, parents and peers and shouts out the cries for help and the need for knowledge and not lies. The guitar tone haunting and taunting you to keep listening as it shows you the end of the millennium where the drums march us towards the potential apocalypse of the future we are walking in to with all this new technology and automated way of life. We still get up every day and see the same sun and the music rings out its upbeat dirge telling you that you’ll make it and get by and it was just sex, lies and videotape we were and are still fed through internet social media and television. A profound track on the album that is really an Anthem that is and should be heard by the masses. “Moor Spirits” follows us down the darker path that we have chosen to walk alone even though we know we are being watched from the shadows. The bouncing melody of the track halfway through draws up the smouldering fire from the the song’s inception that has you looking for the smoke and heat to either run to for warmth or run from because you fear the unknown more so. A medieval overtone lies within this song as the tune carries that Tolkien paragraph to it and the vocals are filled with that troubadour/bard timbre that you long for yet rarely hear in today’s music. This track has a very Glen Yarbrough feel to it, vocally and musically. A folk musician and singer from the late 50’s onward who played in The Limeliters then as a solo act. It literally hit me listening to this song why I found it so familiar to me and here it is, albeit I’m sure not to the artist’s knowledge perhaps or maybe so but a great homage was paid here on this album.
“Ring in the New Age” keeps the pace steady with the alluring synths that layer the track in blankets of electric waves as the underlying guitar snarling is a treaty to hear as it adds flare and spice to the track as the whole song pulls you in to the vessel and takes you on a journey in to the present day like you have never seen it before. Lyrically poignant and musically astute you can’t help but stare out your window wondering what you are doing when listening to this song. Showing us the greed and filth in which we consume in today’s society and what we have become. Another prominent and profound track on the album. The lines, “We deny our destiny, And we only believe in what we see, False mantras fall form our lips, we see heaven in a microchip” couldn’t have been better said about today’s modern age, absolute brilliance. “The City Hum” gives us the highs and lows of living in a big city. Some you win, some you lose either by choice or by fate. What money can buy you for the good or evil in us all. The painful moan of the guitar solo sways us to one lifestyle or another forcing us to make a choice and commit. The jangle of the melody here is like jingling change in your pocket as you make your decision. A very powerful track that has some glistening guitar passages in it then finally pulling out at the last second to close the track. Decide. “This is Not the End” brings in a happier tone to it and the lyrics still carry the reality of modern day life and that you still have to choose daily what you are and going to be. Another track that has that great mid 80’s vibe to it in the Prog world where bright tones try to hide the realistic lyrics but just can’t as we are hear to listen and push it louder than ever. This tr5ack calls up the spirits of bands like Camel for the verses and Pendragon for the chorus as it assembles the light and the dark in tonality, a bewitching Jekyll and Hyde song in my opinion. The double vocal tracks give you that continuing Jekyll/Hyde moodiness to it as the guitar solos strike out in a fascinating array of notes to almost heavy metal standards and the drums are bright and tight patterned to have your blood rushing by the end of the song. Total pick me up song that had to be played a couple times before we moved on.
“After the Fall” keeps us in wrapped attention with the acoustic refrains as we reminisce upon bands like The Moody Blues and Richard Thompson that conjure up memories again as this song does the continuing saga of sound throughout. Persevering tales of days long passed and subtle reminders of honesty and love through family and the importance of being closely knit together. The synths gently cover the song like a breeze through a long lost battlefield filled with the souls of those who fought and died there for freedom and never saw it come to fruition. A gentle but loud reminder that one must remember either for humanity or oneself sanity to keep what is important to you close and held on to tightly like that stuffed animal that never let you down. Serene. “All is One-Returning Home”, the album’s final and longest track comes to us at 8:04minutes and holds the classic Prog tradition in check by keeping the longest for the last to close the album out in a times perfection. Allister doesn’t disappoint here by bringing in harmonies that has you feeling The Beach Boys and Moody Blues again along with some slow psychedelic passes from the synths in a nice Krautrock kind of way where you get your German dose in throughout the record but pleasantly here the most in a mellotron minute. Choral vocal passages that are only akin to a church choir with their angelic tones and harmonies gently swathed in to the layers of the song. Acoustic guitar that makes you not even see the musician but only hear the breeze like notes pass you by as the drums shuffle their beat gracefully like they were dancing in the wind and calm rains throughout the fields as you stand there and take it all in allowing it to absorb in to your pores and become one with you giving the song carte-blanche to fill your soul and pour out through your tears of joy, sadness, regret, cheers and losses.
Twilight Fields debut album Further up, Further In! is an entire album of sincerity, reality and some of the most heartfelt vocals I have ever heard from Allister Thompson and the musicianship presented here is astoundingly beautiful throughout as the record keeps your heart beating in ways you have forgotten over time because you have allowed technology to replace your feelings at times, many times, most of the time or even all of the time these days. This album brings you back in to the fold of the pack of emotions and allows you to let them loose and free once more in a joyous expression of non-regret that you are teary eyed in a few or many points throughout this album. Enjoy.