Album review: LEGACY PILOTS – Aviation


Laterne [Release date 23.07.20]

I do find in these strange days of Lockdown I am automatically drawn to the unusual and the previously unknown in terms of bands and albums.  Maybe even the underdog.  And especially those that don’t necessarily attract wide reviews.

I reviewed Q-Bizm recently and that was something of a minor revelation and Legacy Pilots is similar.

This album is special in spite of assistance from a bunch of heavyweight “musos” – Steve Morse and Jordan Rudess amongst them.

Many of these albums – those paying homage to and even employing musical heroes – can tend to be mere clones, rather than merely inspired and therefore more original.

The band revolves around Hamburg-based Frank Us who was encouraged to fashion another prog project after repeatedly hearing that the genre’s big hitters were dying, including Chris Squire and John Wetton.  If I was Rudess or even Pete Trewavas I’d be looking over my shoulder.  Us’ debut album in 2018 was called ‘Con Brio’  and was well received.  Steve Rothery and Mark Kelly (Marillion) were involved.

The album is bookended by two instrumentals.  Opener ‘The Squad Is Back’ is a wonderful, majestic instrumental to set the scene and features Pete Trewavas (Marillion) on bass and Marco Minnemann, drums (who also contributes to several more tracks). Us’ guitaring (and keys) is also on form.

‘An Adventurous Journey’ is  a purposeful prog workout featuring Steve Morse’s fluid and florid guitar figures but not detracting from Us’ impressive acoustic and synth instrumentation.

‘A Different League’ introduces vocals (Jake Livgren) with Rudess’ solo whilst ‘Dreamers’ features John Mitchell (Lonely Robot, It Bites).

‘Innocent’ is a real standout with an irresistible chorus, voiced by Us himself.

The high standard continues with ‘Wide Wide World’ and the two part ‘Fear’ which is a little more dark and proggy, at times evoking Riverside or solo Hackett.  There is not a duff track on this album whether it’s the acoustic-driven ‘Saccadian Rhythms ‘ or the 10 minute masterpiece ‘Immortal’.  Together with ‘To The Stars’ this latter track includes an un-named female vocalist, a nice diversion that maybe could have been further exploited.

I suppose the best general description is “pop prog/AOR” of the sort purveyed by Alan Parsons Project.  In other words, well constructed songs, highly accessible,  and great musicianship.

Is it too presumptuous to say – in August 2020 – this is an “album of the year”?

A truly wonderful album, one to restore your faith during these covid-constrained times.  *****

Review by David Randall

The Best of 2020

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