www.powerofprog.com. review by Robert Brady.
17th June 2016.
I must admit Red Bazar have taken me quite a bit by surprise. They totally embody a vast ray of vintage 1970's progressive rock influences and sound. They certainly have proven this again with their latest and most recent effort Tales From The Bookcase. They have brought a serious panoramic of various progressive styles from that era into the 21st Century with modern elements. Tales From The Bookcase is also their first effort with vocals on the album as the band is joined by the soulful Peter Jones on this one.
The bands panoramic sound ranges from Yes and Genesis on the ethereal end to King Crimson, Rush and Deep Purple on the heavier end. Much like Yes and Genesis the band has such lyrical elements to paint motion pictures on the tapestry of the mind of the listener. On the heavier end of Rush, King Crimson and Deep Purple they add that 1970's almost proto stoner rock vibe. The band even goes into soulful vocal styles such as Paul Rogers of Bad Company.
Tales From The Bookcase is a thematic concept album where the album does not really take on a full concept but rather a common theme and thread. The come theme and thread are stories inspired by actually stories and events or the potential of them happening thereof. I will point out various highlights from every track of Red Bazar's Tales From The Bookcase.
In The Beginning starts off Tales From The Bookcase with a very dark psychedelic passage. The synths remind me very much of Jon Lord in most Deep Purple Mark 2 albums with late 1960's American Psychedelia in the fashioned of The Doors meets The Jefferson Airplane. The guitar has a beautiful ethereal atmosphere to support In The Beginning.
Queen Of The Night Part 1 explodes in the progressive passage of early King Crimson meets Deep Purple Mark 2 with a very heavy rock progression backed by Peter Jones channeling his inner soulful Ian Gillian ,John Wetton and Paul Rogers. While some bands have chosen to go neo progressive, Red Bazar are not afraid to unleash a heavier sound. The listener will find this throughout Tales From A Bookcase. The rhythm section very brooding and heavily orchestrated especially towards the end. The bass sounds like a backing vocal at times.
Calling Her On begins with a very soulful and psychedelic vibe especially in the vocal department. Peter Jones is making himself a serious vocal force to be reckoned with about now in the album. The band relies heavily on heavy rhythmic guitar sections trading on and off. This track is one of many on this album inspired by a book or tale. Lyrically it is a introspective and personal reflection work. The track takes some nice breaks and allows the listener to breathe in the story both on the instrumental and lyrical portions.
City And The Stars opens with a beautiful piano passage with a very warm inviting vocal. This track takes on layers and atmospheres of guitar, bass and keyboard tracks making a very soothing performance and allowing the composition breathe. This track is inspired loosely by many various futuristic idealistic novels. The vocal harmonies are excellent. Towards the end the band takes a trip back into the heavy zone that is more of progressive hard rock.
Lights Of Home opens up with one Mr. Mick Wilson performing a rhythm clinic with the way his fingers dance of the bass to open the track. That is soon joined in harmony with a wonderfully warm lead guitar of Andy Wilson. Soon Peter Jones joins in on vocals that take another dynamic. The crystal clear backing vocals run well in harmony to the lead vocals. Another dynamic of the track is actual guitar solo's that seem hit and miss in progressive rock these days. Another great dynamic to this track is all the vocal content that appears for a 12:22 track. Usually the longer the song the longer the instrumental. This however is not the case with this one. It balances as much lyrical content as it does instrumental.
Sunset For A New World starts you off with a beautiful semi electric guitar passage. This is soon joined by some very inviting and warm vocal harmony to perfectly accompany the instrumental. This track completely allows the listener to soak in the album as a whole with two more songs. The semi acoustic guitar in the solo brings this and the album to another dimension.
Almost Over appropriately title for the second to the last song. This one begins with a ghostly style vibe. The keyboards are great the way they can depict a foggy atmosphere before the guitar adds a layer of warm to the passage. Soon the vocal comes in pulling at the mind strings of the audience. This track is 11:00 solid minutes of various layers upon layers of instrumental and vocal elements. The harmonies tighten up a lot in this one. The solo around the middle of the track is one of tower audio assault blending the best of progressive hard rock with mild neo progressive influences.
Queen Of The Night Part 2 opens up with a sort of Peter Gabriel vibe especially with tracks like Games Without Frontiers and Excellent Birds with a lot more progressive meat on the marrow of the progressive skeleton. This track really starts out with such organic elements and adds to them layering time signatures and progressions with every passing second to minute. Between Queen Of The Night Part 1 and Queen Of The Night Part 2 here it can make for a wonderful surprise live if the band chooses to play it in its entirety. Queen Of The Night Part 2 builds and concludes the story with such grace and poise. There are so excellent breaks to allow the listener to really comprehend what the band is conveying. The bass does a beautiful job as the backbone to some of the break passages.
I was very surprised by this album. Red Bazar made a excellent transition from being a total instrumental band to a vocal oriented progressive hard rock convincingly. With the band as a vocal oriented entity now I firmly believe that the band will be able to expand their fan base. Red Bazar are among some of the best modern bands that will be able to carry posterity in prog music to carry it well towards the middle half of the 21st Century. Red Bazar Tales From The Bookcase gets a 4.5/5.