ABEL GANZ: Shooting Albatross (throw-back review)

ABEL GANZ, Shooting Albatross, 2008, Abel Records (66:08)


Track Listing:

  1. Looking for a Platform (15:06)
  2. So Far (23:31)
  3. Sheepish (12:55)
  4. Ventura (8:40)

Bonus/hidden track (4:20)

Had I been rating prog albums five years ago this album would have been in contention for best album of 2008. These Scottish lads wrote and recorded a masterpiece!

The opening track, Looking for a Platform, clocks in at 15:06 but flies by. This “Genesis-tinged YES” epic with its multiple tempo changes and tight musicianship sets the overall theme for a melodic and lush soundscape, or seascape, as this opening song is framed by waves breaking on the shore; a motif that leads into track two as well.

The second song is the truly epic 23 minute standout track, So Far. The first four minutes of this Horslips vibed and Celtic tinged tune are a mix of low trembling bass, synth keys and more D Whistle (though it still sounds like the Uilleann Pipes to me) Some delicious 12-string and a mournful electric lead solo make the instrumental passages deeply evocative. The haunting vocal chorus is breath taking but the song has an optimistic and hopeful ending. Sheepish, track three, has a great arrangement and is the most catchy and rhythmic song. A Gilmouresqe electric solo and some sweet bouzouki are complimented by Denis Smith’s keyboard solo. The last track, Ventura, is again, an uplifting, upbeat and song of promise. This is a song to have on when sailing to the Grey Havens at the close of the Third Age. There is such a strong ‘feel-good’ wave of completion that one is almost disappointed that a hidden track at 10:17 gives the listener another four minute song. The bonus track with its cello and ambient backwash of synth and guitar also rate an “A+” rating.

A well-constructed digi-pack with some nice heraldic art (nautical/mythological; Mermaids) make this a complete winner all around. My only small quibble is that I wish the vocal mix could have been a little more up-front on track 1. Hugh Carter’s voice is a little thin at times but the harmonies flesh out the delivery. His lead on track three is much better. Kudos also are awarded to guest vocalist Alan Reed on So Far.

The band has had some personnel changes in the last few years but this iteration was a tight cohesive prog sound that delivered a near concept sounding album that has an electric folk instro “sound” that morphs into a neo-classical Annie Haslam Renaissance flavored hour of classic bliss.

In a more perfect world this album would have made ABEL GANZ breakout stars in 2008. Sadly it is not a more just and appreciative world, but lovers of beautiful and moving music can still search out this disc and buy it. I easily give this album my A+ rating as it lurches towards “desert island” status.

Mellotron On!


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One Response to “ABEL GANZ: Shooting Albatross (throw-back review)”

  1. bradbirzer Says:

    Reblogged this on Progarchy: Pointing toward Proghalla.

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