Darrel Treece Birch is on a red hot roll as far as music is concerned. Last year we presented two reviews to you that this keyboard virtuoso, one was his solo album No More Timeand the one he did as a member of Nth Ascension with In Fine Initium. In 2017 we see Darrel Treece Birch return with his other band Ten with Gothicaand now his new solo album Healing Touch. Darrel Treece Birch has absolutely no lack of substance when it comes to creative license is concerned and it is demonstrated by the quick turn around between releases. Darrel Treece Birch is a flowing fountain and well spring of melodious bliss.
Unlike 2016’s offering No More Time, Darrel Treece Birch decided not to have multiple guest musicians and go it all alone. Another difference with Healing Touch is it is not the conceptual piece that No More Time was. Do not be fooled however, Healing Touchis one serious exotic and melodic safari through the soul of one Darrel Treece Birch. There are 10 new songs that are all instrumentals yet they each have their own individual identity while remaining on point to the main spiritual objective that becomes the common theme throughout Healing Touch. Without any lyrics, Darrel Treece Birch manages to convey subjects of life and faith quite eloquently with just instrumentals. To date Healing Touch is perhaps Darrel Treece Birch’s most diverse album.
God’s Prescription immediately sets a cool smooth mood for the listener of the album. It sets a mood like one is transported into a futuristic world of electronic jazz fusion. This sounds like it may in fact be 25 years ahead of its time. It is certainly a soothing track in that Darrel uses more atmospheric theory to transport the listener into the world he intended them to be. Some of the electronica atmospheres subside to a more traditional jazz fusion rhythm section and soon both of the sum of the parts gel into a perfectly balanced melody. The track even provokes visions of the future which is a testament to Darrel Treece Birch’s forward thinking and sometimes groundbreaking work. There are many elements to this track that also remind me of Kraftwerk meets Alan Parson’s Band. Even more so this track represents a celestial element as well.
From The Mouth in many ways keeps with the subject of faith, hope , healing and love. It opens up with some seriously heavy synth work along with a beautifully deep bass and drum rhythm section that is not always synth manufactured. It gives the most seasoned listener the truth appearance that every instrument was recorded prior the synths and keyboards. Although the futuristic mood is still there, this track takes upon itself some very heavy elements of jazz fusion, especially in the context of the rhythm section. The rhythm section takes on a very 1970’s mood with fuzzy elements serving as a main feature. This lending a heavy Pink Floyd influence about it.
Cast It Out starts out with a wall of synths that hearkens back to the later 1970’s Kraftwerk style meets the earlier 1980’s Buggles. Darrel Treece Birch certainly puts on the first of a few keyboardist music and theory clinics with this one. He is always venturing out into territory that easily keeps him from being pigeonholed into one style and Cast It Out is a perfect example to this. Cast It Out is also a serious departure from what we have been use to hearing in Nth Ascension and Ten, Darrel’s other musical outlets. The track eventually levels out to a more conventional progressive hard rock song that eventually ends with some very beautiful progressive rock atmospheres.
Re-Boot sees Darrel Treece Birch channel heavy elements to the late great Keith Emerson with the production mind of a Alan Parsons. It also leaves a very heavily ELP influence as far as atmospheric soundscape structures. The guitar work is very ‘Floydian’ in nature leaving void or filler for the sake of having a complete song. The rhythm section is very well balanced and subtle leaving the guitar and keyboard stringed section much room to breathe and thrive within the songs own identity and purpose.
The Fruits Of The Spirit opens up with beautifully orchestrated sounds of nature in harmony with radiant wind chimes. This track from the first note already transport the listener in a state of tranquility and peace. This is also a very intricate track where it appears that the keyboard is distributing various chord progressions of the other instrumental interests throughout the duration of the track. This track is a soothing balm perfectly arranged to keep the listeners attention in the album.
The Stand opens up like a whirlwind with a very windy atmospheric effect generated by the synth’s. It is soon followed up by a beautiful rhythm section with some more ‘Floydian’ guitar soundscapes. The pure fusion approach to this track is yet another departure from some of the normal work we are used to hearing from Darrel. His experimental side truly knows no boundaries. This track in particular explores a more avant – garde side to Darrel Treece Birch that I honestly never knew was there.
The Release reminds me a lot of Arjen Luccasen’s Ayreon work , specifically the Actual Fantasy album. This is very heavily rooted in the electronic orchestral chord progression. When the other instruments such as the lead guitar and drums come in they are immediately highlighted and allowed to breathe throughout the composition. It is almost a melodic play on words in that there is a play on various chord progressions and deeply instrumental rhythm sections that would make Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk blush. This track truly lives up to its namesake in that Darrel Treece Birch appears to open up yet another level of musicianship.
The Expanse starts off with the illusion of a music box playing tender little wind chimed melodies. This transports the listener into a melodic fantasy realm. The rhythm section shines through deeply. Both the stringed sections and rhythm sections are in a perfect harmonious persuasion. The track builds layer upon layers as it maintains its uplifting objective. This track has a heavy science fiction aesthetic working through is various passages and intricate chord progressions.
No Fear Here basically continues in the tradition of The Expanse and The Release. It is both heavy on the keyboard atmospheres and the unorthodox rhythm sections tat keep hooking the listener. There are some elements of classic rock keyboards much like Keith Emerson meets Rick Wakeman at the crossroads of modern fusion.
God’s Medicine opens up with a immediate guitar solo. This is yet another unconventional and surprising element of Darrel Treece Birch’s approach on this album. This is also some very beautiful classically rooted atmospheric fusion. In its isolation it brings absolution and proper closure to Healing Touch.
Although this one took me a little longer than expected it was well worth the time invested in it. This is well worth the investment to any progressive rock or instrumentalist fans collection. Healing Touch has many personalities and dimensions to it. Darrel Treece Birch really took many risks and chances with this one. Darrel Treece Birch’s Healing Touch gets 5/5.
Djam Karet is an instrumental progressive rock band based in Topanga, California. The band was founded in 1984 by guitarists Gayle Ellett and Mike Henderson, bassist Henry J. Osborne, and drummer Chuck Oken, Jr.. The band’s name is an Indonesian word (pronounced by English speakers as ‘jam care-RAY) that translates loosely as “elastic time”.
All From One, And One From All is our Featured album of the Week, its a 2016 BANDCAMP Exclusive Digital Only Release. The compilation” contains a track from every one of Djam Karet’s 17 albums!
“Critic’s Choice Award” BILLBOARD magazine
“#2 Independent Album Of The Year” ROLLING STONE magazine
“#2 Album Of The Year” ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN magazine
“#2 Album Of The Year” GAGLIARCHIVES
“#3 Album Of The Year” SEA OF TRANQUILITY
“#6 New Age Album Of The Year” PULSE! magazine
“#6 Album Of The Year” GAGLIARCHIVES
“Top 10 Album Of The Year” DEEP LISTENING magazine
“Top 10 Album Of The Year” EXPOSE’ magazine
“Top 20 Album Of The Year” PROGRESSOR
Phil Brown: (Counterparts UK) Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar Steve Grocott (Ten) Electric Guitar Karen Fell: (Gary Hughes Band) Vocals Dan Mitchell: (Formerly of Ten) Electric Guitar John Power: (Counterparts UK) Bass and Fretless Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, & Violin Dann RosIngana: Electric Guitar Alan Taylor: (Nth Ascension) Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar Gavin Walker: (Nth Ascension) Bass Guitar Martin Walker: (Nth Ascension) Electric Guitar
From the very inception of the origins of the Earth, their have been two constant necessities to support life on Earth that being time and water. For Darrel Treece-Birch (keyboardist of TEN), to take the risk and creating a progressive conceptual album articulating this was a courageous move. Both time and water are mankind’s most precious resources. In his new conceptual album No More Time, Darrel Treece-Birch along with a all star line up try to convey this message both instrumentally and lyrically.
Darrel Treece-Birch’s No More Time takes you on a journey of emotions that both progressive rock purists and even hard rock, heavy metal and AOR purists have a little something they can enjoy on the album. With 15 tracks on the album Darrel Treece- Birch reflects a different perspective on the water we use on the Earth and how time also factors into our usage of this most precious resource. His all star line up has certainly done a great job embracing his vision on this album and conveying it to his targeted audience.
Starting with the first track Nexus Pt1 the album opens up with such a ambient backdrop with a spoken word narrative to set up the story that is about to be No More Time. Then the album smoothly segue’s into Earthbound.
Earthbound is a full instrumental that simulates a story of how water actually got to Earth to begin with. This is demonstrated with great atmospheric keyboards in harmony with atmospheric guitar solo’s throughout the track. This is followed by another instrumental track titled Riding The Waves.
Riding The Waves is a more up tempo track with more layered keyboards and guitars that are matched in unison with a solid and fluid rhythm section. This is also another instrumental on the album that requires a open and objective mind. Riding The Waves continues to paint the picture on the tapestry of the canvas mind of the listener. This sounds much like that of a film score soundtrack the way it is written. It is also ethereal in scope. This leads into the next track Hold On.
Hold On begins with a warm piano passage that is soon followed by a warm vocal melody. It appears almost as a ballad. The lyrical content takes a deep internal direction. It is as if a mentor is mentoring his student. It has many AOR hallmarks especially from AOR ballads past particularly in the 1980’s however with a modern sensibility. This is now followed by the next track on this epic journey Requiem Pro Caris.
Requiem Pro Caris is another warm piano intro driven track. It is as if the piano are simulating raindrops while the spoken word narrative continues with the journey. This leads into the next track Twilight.
Twilight is another beautifully crafted track that is very heavy on the piano. It gives the listener the effect that Darrel is in a small venue giving a show in a more intimate setting. He manages to do this both on the instrumental side and lyrical side. Deep piano tones and vocal tones are the backbone to this one. This leads into the next track Mother (Olive’s Song).
Mother (Olive’s Song) continues with the warm piano passages drawing the listener more and more inside the epic. The piano passage reflects that of a symphony solo passage in a old theater. Soon more modern keyboard atmospheres are layered upon the existing piano passages. This is also performed rather on the darker side. This is another of many instrumentals on the album. This leads beautifully into the next track Freedom Paradigm.
Freedom Paradigm begins with some up tempo percussion rhythm section. Soon this is followed up with a almost climatic heavy metal styled soundtrack. It is loaded with very powerful progressive metal fusion style solo’s throughout the entire instrumental track. This track gives the listener the appearance that the epic has reached a climax. This not before the next track Nexus Pt3 .
Nexus Pt.3 is another well crafted keyboard led passage that is perfectly complimented by a spoken word narrative. It is a little lighter for the listener to digest. This leads into the next track in the epic The River Dream.
The River Dream is a wonderful track that is a instrumental however is written in such away that the listener starts to reflect more and more on the overall epic journey of the concept rather than the individual tracks. The River Dream starts to allow the album to really come together and gel in the album as a collective. This leads right into the title track of the album No More Time.
No More Time begins with a warm melodic touch with warm vocals. Lyrically it appears there is a end of a era. The instrumental portion certainly matches this. The track takes a up tempo harder rock edge as if time is now moving forward. The harmonies are spot on. The harmony between the vocal and instrumental are full of emotion throughout the track. The guitar solo’s are much more AOR leaning, however the track remains on its objective. There are progressive time signatures within the solo’s giving this track a depth a fullness. This leads into the next track Legacy.
Legacy starts off with some lush atmospheric percussion and keyboard effects. The heavy guitar is not that far behind. This has a very Pink Floyd styled atmospheric vibe. All the instrumental pieces appear to running very balanced with one another. The instrumental works more like a vocal harmony telling a story all its own. This leads into Music of the Spheres.
Music of the Spheres opens up with a wonderful feminine touch to the album with a very present female vocal. The piano is warm yet haunting in its nature on this one. Lyrically this song questions many things in life. The track picks up somewhat at the 2:00 mark. The instrumental certainly matches the lyrical content on this one. This reaches the emotional apex of the epic journey of No More Time. There is also a neo progressive styled solo section towards the middle. This leads into the final track Return To The Nexus.
Return To The Nexus begins with a progressive electronic and ambient intro. Its atmospheres are almost in the vein of Peter Gabriel’s This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds) from his SO album. All the hallmarks of ambient, progressive, electronica and AOR from the album are present on this one. Return To The Nexus is written and arranged very appropriately to have all styles on the album present. Some of it even has a Kraftwerk influence behind it.
Darrel Treece – Birch has created a concept of grace and intimacy. No More Time is one of those albums that will certainly find a audience outside of the progressive rock community. This album is certainly among those albums that will continue the posterity of progressive music as a collective. I do see this album influencing future generations whether they be progressive, ambient or AOR music minded. This will get a 5/5 and have a place in my Top 10 of 2016.
Melodic Revolution Records | Feature Album August 2016 Leon Alvarado | The Future Left Behind
Label: Melodic Revolution Records Release Year: 2016 Country: USA Genre : Progressive Rock
Band Members Leon Alvarado – Keyboards/Sequencing/Drums/Percussion/Launch Control Voices Billy Sherwood – Lead and Rhythm Guitars On All Tracks Except “To Be Loved” Rick Wakeman – Moog Solo on “The Launch Overture” and Additional Keyboards Johnny Bruhns – Acoustic Guitar on “To Be Loved” Steve Thamer – Narration
In today’s progressive music climate and culture, it would be arrogant to hold on to the notion that every conceptual album has to have lyrical content to tell a story effectively. Rick Wakeman with ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’ , Kraftwerk with most of their library and even guitar virtuoso’s like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Eric Johnson have all certainly destroys this ‘Myth’ . Now comes Leon Alvaroado with his soon to be released The Future Left Behind. With a open imagination and a objective mindset, the listener can easily allow the narrative throughout this album to set up the instrumental pieces that flow with such masterful and thoughtful continuity.
Some artists have a very uncanny ability to create their own worlds that invite a true objective listener to become enveloped within that world and carry their minds and souls into a place of brief escape or even a small melodic vacation for the hour or so of the album. Leon Alvarado has done a brilliant job doing this on The Future Left Behind. The album certainly has strong cinematic film score elements that blend in well with all the traditional progressive rock and fusion hallmarks.
Leon Alvarado’s The Future Left Behind, is a conceptual piece that describes what the future of the Earth and humanity maybe. The cinematic elements easily rank up there with legendary science fiction film scores as Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, 2001 A Space Odyssey. At the same time ranking right up there with the likes of Jordan Rudess, Derek Sherinian’s PlanetX,Genius A Metal Opera and Ayreon’s Actual Fantasy. Anchored with a very articulate narrative eloquently spoken by Steve Thamer, Leon Alvarado’s brilliant use of sequencing and effects along with the instrumental melody holds the album within the confines of a consumable audio pallet for both progressive purists or those newer and more curious listeners.
Despite the all star line up on this album, Leon Alvarado in a very tasteful and appropriate way allowed for the respective talents to be displayed while maintaining a unique ability to focus more on strong song structure rather than ego carrying it in its duration. First he paints a clear focus with every narrative piece on the album so the instrumental pieces are magnified ten fold allowing the listener to paint the vivid images of the story in the theater of their minds. The all star line up do a brilliant job working within the vision of Leon Alvarado on this project.
Each instrumental track carries its own emotion and paints some very vivid melodic strokes throughout the album. Every layer of sequencing, every rhythm section and keyboard section has its own broad strokes of audio bliss. This is also a album that can translate well to a live atmosphere in concert on stage. In a era where compressed music is force down the throats of the general public, Leon Alvarado’s The Future Left Behind allows every note, progression and passage to breathe allowing the listener to absorb the project with grace. With every listen and rotation there seems to be something new coming to the light of day or something there that has not been noticed before with previous listens.
In conclusion , Leon Alvarado has made a very intricate and artistic statement without compromising his initial vision. It take a lot of courage and risk to make a almost strictly instrumental conceptual piece. Although they are not for everybody they certainly have a niche audience that wants to sit back, chill and allow the theater of their minds to paint a picture alongside the music. I give Leon Alvarado’s The Future Left Behind a 4.5/5 for complete organic vision. This is set for release on July, 30, 2016 on Melodic Revolution Records.
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