White Knight [Release date 28.03.19]
They like their prog in the valleys, don’t they? There seems to be a never ending production line of female fronted bands emerging from secret facilities in deepest, darkest Wales. Or in the case of Last Flight To Pluto, from Cardiff.
In most cases, you’ll find at least some DNA trace evidence of serial Welsh prog-meister Rob Reed. And Last Flight To Pluto, are no exception, with Reed lending piano and Moog to the set opener, ‘Masheena’, mastering the album, and putting it out on his fledgling White Knight label.
Formed by seasoned cover band players Alice Freya (vocals) and Darren Joseph (drums),the band’s debut See You At The End (2015) drew parallels as something of a Rush/Massive Attack mash, with young guitarist Jack Parry’s work in particular likened to that of Alex Lifeson.
That album doesn’t seem to have left much of a mark on the musical landscape, although a video for the track Heavy Situation can still be found on YouTube.
In comparison, A Drop In The Ocean is a far more accomplished and mature piece of work, consisting of six, eight/nine minute songs, and this time around any Rush comparisons are more likely to be between the vocals of Alice Freya and [a young] Geddy Lee. And while her vocals are likely to divide opinion, it’s refreshing to hear female fronted prog where the vocalist doesn’t sound cloned.
With the band line up completed by Lewis Kreft (bass), Ryan Barnard (guitar), A Drop In The Ocean is an expansive set – there’s elements of electronica in the opening strains of ‘Masheena’, there’s some infectious Celtic (Horslips) undertones to ‘The King’s Are Dead’, ‘Coverland’ opens to Floydian strains before breezing into some classic Lizzy/Wishbone style guitar runs, and ‘Supergirl’ even throws some innovative use of reggae into the mix.
There’s some excellent evocative lead guitar throughout from Jack Parry, backing/ harmony vocals are used to really good effect, and the rhythm section is as tight as a duck’s chuff. The result is an album that, whilst doffing its hat to a number of giants of rock, nevertheless gives Last Flight To Pluto a distinctly individual identity.
Maybe not quite yet the finished article, but there’s some powerful performances and much to be enjoyed here, and for now, at least, A Drop In The Ocean as one of 2019′s best releases. ****
Review by Pete Whalley
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