Reviewed by: Pedro Bekkers. www.backgroundmagazine.nl
15 July 2016.
After reviewing the absolutely stunning album Differential Being (see review) in 2010, Red Bazar's album got a lot of spins in my CD player, but for what ever reason; lots of new albums I suppose, the album got out of my sight and I kinda lost track about the band. Six years and one EP later, the band has returned to the scene and I noticed the mostly instrumental trio turned into a vocal driven quintet. Since their previous record, Red Bazar recruited the talented keyboard player Gary Marsh, so bass player Mick Wilson could focus on the bass guitar and the overall sound could gain more depth. A huge change came when Peter Jones joined the line-up of Red Bazar, this multi-instrumentalist with an amazing voice already made fame with two highly regarded solo albums, who were released under the name of Tiger Moth Tales.
Peter's first collaboration with Red Bazar came when the band sent him the demo of Calling Her On, which turned out to become one of the finest progressive rock songs I have heard this year, filled with beautiful melodies, strong keyboards and a slightly overall touch of Steven Wilson's solo music. The album opens with a nice instrumental;In The Beginning, which immediately reminded me of what an amazing guitar player Andy Wilson is. This song takes some elements of Pink Floyd and fuses these with Andy's fluid style of playing. After this three minute opener, Queen Of The Night Part 1 opens the vocal part of the CD. Peter Jones is THE perfect voice for this band. His versatile vocals show he is capable of delivering smooth, as well as straight forward, powerful vocals to the metal regions, where he displays a similar tone as Jorn Lande. Although Queen Of The Night Part 1 is a quite heavy progressive composition with brilliant guitar riffs, the song also holds relaxed and beautiful keyboard parts, to bring perfect balance to the song. With City And The Stars, the band does head a bit towards Spock's Beard in the softer parts and vocally this song is just amazing. What a beautiful, peaceful voice does this blind super musician have. City And The Stars starts as a ballad type of composition, but this eight and a half minute song gently gains power, towards a cool guitar solo that once again, defines Andy Wilson as a truly amazing guitarist. Lights Of Homeis the longest composition on the album and one of four songs that exceeds the ten minute mark. During this long epical composition, Mick WIlson's bass takes the lead in the first part, a furious guitar solo takes over to lead the song into more calm waters with cool rhythm playing. The keyboard during this song is pushed more towards the background in favour of the guitar escapades of Andy Wilson, present but just functional. The true ballad of the album has to be Sunset For A New World; smooth, multi layered vocals and keyboards and a soft acoustic solo that is followed by a relaxed electric one, make this a nice smooth tune. Listening to the beginning of Almost Over, you might think this song is a sort of continuation of the previous one, but the electric guitars enter and the song gains power, but remains smooth and relaxed. Gary Marsh lays down a nice bed of keyboard sounds, where Peter's voice can shine over. Although this tune has a nice fusion style solo, the overall atmosphere of the song remains smooth. When you have a song on the album that says Part One, usually there is also a second part on the same album. So the final song on Tales From The Bookcase is called Queen Of The Night Part 2, referring to the earlier song Part One. This twelve minute epic has everything a progressive rock aficionado needs; strong melodies, the building of power during the song, amazing vocals and numerous escapades where the instrumentalists can show what they are capable of. This final track has them all, from very strong drumming to the typical progressive bass and plenty of soloing.
After all, Tales Of The Bookcase turned out to be a very pleasant surprise for me. Growing from a trio to a quintet and more, the addition of a brilliant vocalist. Red Bazar has convinced me with their album and I can only grant the maximum amount of stars to this progressive rock gem. Highly recommended.
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Astrid de Ronde)