Master’s Forge Records – [Release Date: 22.08.13]
This is a prog rock album with as many musical twist and turns, as there are dichotomous themes. The subject matter shifts from the micro, through relationship songs, to the macro of biblical themes, with God as the narrator at one point. But before you go running for the hills, Tuval Cain (the brain child of keyboard player and lyricist David Kuhn) surrounds their stories with wide ranging prog rock that takes in Floydian soundcapes, folk rock, blues and hard rock.
David has surrounded himself with top line Israeli rock musicians and the crack production team of Noam Hartmann and Avi Chen, who bring out dynamics of adventurous music grounded in heartfelt lyrics. If there’s a down side, it’s not so much the subject matter as the lyrics themselves, which though dealing with interesting themes, too often obscure great music that we’d like to hear more of.
Tuval Cain’s name apparently comes from the book of Genesis. He was a chemist, the strongest man alive and most significantly a blacksmith. As such he got blamed for making arms, rather than being appreciated for his more humanitarian role as an agrarian catalyst. His brother Yuval was a musician who invented the harp & flute. And it is this kind of duality that strikes a significant theme throughout an album that is rooted in ‘70’s Brit prog rock with significant Tull, Crimson and Floyd influences. And while Kuhn might struggle with his meter and lyrical lucidity, vocalist Dor Nagar is immense over 13 tracks that like all good concept albums can be thematically subdivided.
The album opens promisingly with swirling synths and the gentle groove of ‘Nomad’ – a tale of alienation – while the narrator on ‘Wandering I’ battles with his demons over a flute led bluesy figure with a nice layered vocal on the chorus.
‘Spiral Down’ has arguably the best vocal on the album. Dor sounds a bit like Dead Can Dance vocalist Brendan Perry on a spacey Traffic style piece, which is predicated on a gently voiced bass. It’s an atmospheric piece with a drifting piano, flute and some ironic humour: ‘I have a will that I’d rather not own, Comes in dreams, but I wish it would go’.
Up to this point the music has done enough to retain our interest and the band rocks out on the self affirmatory ‘Power’, which lyrically represents one step forward and two steps back in terms of the songs eclectic meaning: ‘Power is what lies beyond and fills this world with pale reflections, the sun that glimmers in a glowing stream’.’
The intro to ‘A Distant Well’ musically references Tull, before a mid-section jazz- rock break and some lyrics that counter balance optimism with dashed ideals over a melodic arrangement. ‘Looking Glass Love (Predatory Games)’ opens with the line: ‘Out of the Darkness, into the light’ , and is an apparent celebration of freedom, the downside of which is that; ‘after the clouds roll and cover the hills, no one can see me so I do what I will’. A tempo change in the song triggers a climactic finish from Dor Nagar as part of a big rock finale.
‘No More Need’ is the musical highlight of the album. The harpsichord intro and acoustic guitar gives the love song a folky feel, with added flute parts over a waltz- time, organ led instrumental break. The band add a funky reggae lilt to ‘Don’t Try To Change Me’, which features another a good vocal on a Floydian style outing on a song about a long term relationship.
The conflicting elements of the album are best summarized by ‘There Will Be Time’ which after a sluggish start initially fails to spark. It eventually resolves itself as dreamy proggy piece which surprisingly leads to one the best moments on the album and finishes all too soon
And so to the final biblical quartet, as songwriter David Kuhn adds a spoken word part to the filmic intro of ‘Jonah’, with some interwoven keyboard and guitar parts. If you have given up on the lyrics at this point you can simply groove along with the spacey music, all drifting piano and crisp percussion. There’s even a slow building duet on ‘The World Is My Dominion’, as God reflects on his creation, and the band heads for a startling gospel finish. They conclude with the manic jazzy roller coaster and bluesy figure of ‘Reprobate’ on which sax player Guy Wittenberg adds jazzy touches and Dor extends his range one last time.
In the end it all just about comes together. ‘Forging the Future’ is a bit of a sprawl, but the best musical moments are excellent and suggests there is much more to come, while the clumsy lyrics may just be down to a linguistic problems as David Kuhn clearly relishes tackling the big questions. In the end he doesn’t always come up with the answers, but there’s no denying it’s an interesting musical journey. ***
Review by Pete Feenstra
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14:00-16:00 BIRDSONG AT MORNING Signs And Wonders (Blue Gentian Records)
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