I have a big dilemma always when I have to face a review about an artist I have a special feeling for. I need to know if I´m being objective or not, or if I forgive his outlandish behaviors only because he´s an artist I admire. Something like this happens to me when I have to review an album released by this prog/sympho legend. Howe allows himself all kind of licenses and he doesn´t mind if the album is not coherent or consistent. He does whatever he wants, however he wants and that´s all.
So we´ll find here an album with no coherence between tracks, where the only common links are the great sound quality, the amazing instrumental skill, and a real freedom of action.
In this album Steve is accompanied by the family: Virgil Howe plays keyboards and sings vocal harmonies, Dylan Howe plays drums, Gilad Atzmon plays sax (alt, tenor and baritone), clarinet and flute, and Derrick Taylor plays bass. As it´s usual Steve displays his collection of strings (electric, acoustic, synthesized, dobro, steels, mandolin, dulcimer) and he doesn´t mind about his abilities as a singer: he sings because he wants to sing (those who don´t like it, please listen to another singer).
As you can imagine, sixteen tracks without any common links can be easy developed. So we´ll find various styles here: a little bit of jazz/blues in tracks such as “Westwinds”, “Pacific Haze” or “Inside Out Muse” –a beautiful detail for his record label -; some experimentations a la Fripp´s soundscapes (“Hecla Lava”, “Sand Devil”); some ideas already sketched in the old “Turbulence” (“Across The Cobblestone”, “Bee Sting”, “The Chariot of Gold”, “Smoke Silver”); rocker songs with indefinably influences (“Rising Sun”, “Load Off My Mind”, “The Longing”) or gentle and soft songs (“Tremolando”, “A Drop In The Ocean”).
All of these songs have been born to be enjoyed both by Howe or Yes die-hard fans and lovers of experimental sounds, and I really recommend it to them.