[Release date 20.09.19]
Once upon a time, in a Galaxy far, far away – well, OK, maybe not a Galaxy far away, but Swansea isn’t a place most people could pinpoint on a map without the help of Google – Ian Jones (Karnataka bassist and songwriter) came up with the idea for a ‘fusion’ project melding strong rhythmic elements and ambient, experimental soundscapes with progressive rock, Celtic and world music influences.
And it’s been a long, long, long time in gestation – the tantalising trailer ‘Circles In Stone’ fronted by Lisa Fury, first surfacing 12 years ago. But some things, even in the year 2019, are worth the wait.
Featuring Jones on bass, keyboards, guitars, and programming, Steve Evans (vocals, keyboards, programming), Ian Simmons (guitars, programming), Lisa Fury (vocals), and with guest appearances from Troy Donockley and Karnataka guitarist Enrico Pinna, some might say No Ordinary World is too derivative, or contrived even.
But that would be overlooking the sheer melodic beauty that shrouds the album.
Yes, it’s impossible not to hear Yes/Jon Anderson in the latter section of ‘Dancing In The Afterglow’ and ‘Into The Light’, yes, Lisa Fury’s fabulous vocals sometime evoke images of Judie Tzuke (on ‘Love Will Find You’, in particular), yes, swirls of Wish You Were Here-era Floyd underpin the Fury showcase ‘Innocent Child’, yes, some of the world music guitar parts – in particular on the opening title track – doff a cap to Caravanserai-era Santana – and yes, the whole think is glued together in true Enigma fashion.
But it works. And as if to underline the fact, the title track – bringing pretty much all of those elements together – closes out the album in an outstanding 9 minute epic that fades away far, far too soon.
So if you like highly melodic/mildly ambient rock spiced with just a soupçon of World elements, and appreciate fine female vocals, then No Ordinary World is a brilliantly produced album you’ll want to revisit time, and time again.
An album of the year contender, for sure. *****
Review by Pete Whalley
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