This has been a real project band till a few days ago, in the sense they played their first show last January and they are setting up a real tour at the moment. Anyways, the band was born from the minds and energies of engineer/producer Mark Hornsby and musician Nick D'Virgilio. The former has a deep background in audio technology and the music business, owns Java Jive studios and co-owned Ridenour Studios, whose clients included New Found Glory, Foreigner, Joey Kramer, Steve Winwood and Johnny Depp to name a few. As a sound designer, he's developed and consulted on plug-in development for a variety of high-profile audio tech companies, such as IK Multimedia and Sonic Reality and even writes a regular column for Recording magazine on music production. As an engineer, he won two awards for engineering in the a cappella field and has worked with a number of successful artists in Rock and contemporary Christian subgenres.
As to Nick, aka NDV, he's a popular drummer and singer, a basic member of Prog rockers Spock's Beard since 2002, when he took over lead vocals for 3 studio full-lenghts ("Feel Euphoria", "Octane" and the self-titled "Spock's Beard"), the live-CD "Gluttons for Punishment" and the newly released live DVD "Spock's Beard Live"). He was also one of the two skinbeaters chosen to replace Phil Collins in Genesis on the "Calling All Stations" album. Last but not least, NDV stands out as a busy and requested studio and tour sessionist for the likes of Fates Warning, Tears for Fears, Eric Burdon, Jonatha Brooke, Kevin Gilbert and Mike Keneally.
The band they've put together to recreate in a different manner the magic of Genesis's fourth studio effort has put the bluesy side in the background, consequently making it sound more Rock and theatrical than the original version, also unfortunately hindered by a muddy sound that doesn't disappear in the vinyl nor in the remastered version.
A plus to the tribute decidedly goes to the wind instruments and horn section, which make it diverse and updated from the primal version yet not undistinguishable. Everything really works fine here: take "In the Cage", where the wind instruments are symphonic and involving but never excessively bright and simplified the way it occurs in very bad and overvalued bands like Earth, Wind & Fire. The collaboration between these two professionals has allowed them to achieve sublime levels devoid of quality drops that unexperienced or not yet refined enough musicians cannot afford at the moment.
It's interesting to notice that several genres are touched in these over 98 minutes: it's the case of Jazz in "Hairless Heart" and Soul/Funky rock followed by a bit of Zappian madness in "Counting out Time". To balance the platter here come violins and a viola but less keyboards, contributing to make the record more appetizing to those who aren't very accustomed to Prog rock sonorities.
Weren't that enough to convince you, just shoot the refrain of "Back in New York City" in your crania; such vocal lines suffice to justify the buying of the whole double CD even in these times of crisis (emirs excluded of course).
Finally, another pearl to mention in the first CD, is the purifying and positively-vibed "The Chamber of 32 Doors".
Tho the second CD starts powerful and elegant with "Lilywhite Lilith", in the long run it seems more experimental and noisy (check "The Waiting Room" or "The Colony of Slippermen", where they recur to Frank Zappa again, cabaret and circus music).
There's also room for songs rich in piano notes laden with groove and marvellous guitar solos, such as "Anyway" (superb vocal lines as well) and "Supernatural Anaesthetist".
Obviously, being "The Lamia" inspired by the myhtological creature devouring lads as a revenge to Zeus's life-taking of her daughter Hera, the song can't but be full of female vocals. The vampire-snakes feast on the needy boy, who's happy to put and end to his life without pain.
This record is awesome but is not easy to assimilate all its length; that's why some reviewers failed to see the beauty of a few compositions requiring more attention, since they enter your head slower, for example "The Light Dies down on Broadway".
Other songs have benefited of this renewed version, turning out pretty catchy, like the mix between Primus and No Means No ("Riding the Scree"), the delicate "In the Rapids", or the excellent "It", lively and influential on bands that weren't even born when "The Lamb Lies down on Broadway" in 1974 (did anyone perceive the parallel with Incubus from the USA in the closing track backbone?).
Thanks to the high level offered by the bunch of musicians involved, this DCD is a must for Genesis and Prog rock fans and musicians in general, but might as well be a plesant surprise to younger fans who could broaden their horizons between two heavier record listens. To me, immense!
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 20th February 2009