Album review: 3.2 – Third Impression

Frontiers Records [Release date 12.02.21]

This is the end.

Second and final album from 3.2. The success of the first collaboration between Robert Berry, Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer, The Rules Have Changed, prompted the label and the players to pitch together again.

In the event, Emerson’s untimely death meant all Berry (the prime instigator) had was an agreed framework, over which he subsequently draped a patchwork quilt of progressive rock, jazz and classical leanings, stitched together by his undeniable musicianship. Its title is Third Impressions, and it’s episodic, by nature perhaps, and you might conclude that the whole doesn’t equal the sum of the parts. But some of the parts standout.

The reasons are obvious why ‘A Fond Farewell’ was chosen to be the first single, not least because of the title and the sentiments expressed. First… er, impressions are of a huge fanfare, but an underlying Bo Diddley rhythm adds a rock’n'roll immediacy to the lyrics and the melody. It’s a clever blurring of the lines between rock and classical… the definition of Prog. Effectively, it’s an existential sign off, saluting a close friend as well as a singularly great artist.

‘The Black Of Night’ is perhaps the most commercial of the tracks here. The skirl of the pipes and a thumping, tribal drumbeat will accelerate your heartbeat and get the adrenaline pumping, closing out part 1 with a climactic keyboard crescendo. To the extent that the track’s downward gearshift into a moody, Peter Gabriel-ish middle section creates a welcome (if all too brief) breathing space.

That pattern soon emerges as the album unfolds. Showing itself on ‘Top Of The World’, ‘What Side You’re On’ and ‘Killer Of Hope’, as dramatic, jolting keys loom large, and percussive rhythms range back and forth, merging disparate sounds as voices and instruments rise and fall. It’s a post industrial progrock landscape where everything is on the move.

The album’s emotional centrepiece, ‘Bond of Union’ reflects on the strong attachments forged in the studio, when talented, like minded musicians create a piece of music together. It’s a story that can be told a million times, and is the perfect way to commemorate one of the world’s greatest musical artists. ***

Review by Brian McGowan


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