Alaska - Alaska - 2000


Alaska (not to confuse with the Mexican singer settled in Spain) is a North American duet composed by two musicians: John O´Hara (keyboards) and Al Lewis (voice, guitars, bass and percussion). For this album they have a majestic production that enhances the interesting arrangements that these two musicians carry out. The musicians are of high school. O´Hara possesses a gift for the arrangements of keyboards and to create dozens of atmospheres while Lewis defends very well with his instruments, although his voice must be highlighted, one of the most similar to Jon Anderson that I have ever had the opportunity to listen.


Although now I will describe you the album track by track, the general sound is very similar as for production to the "Drama" of Yes, although with some exceptions. Alaska opens up with "IceSpirits" (5:56), a song that reminds of the ELP of "Black Moon" blended with the Yes of "Going for the one", mainly in the chorus. Interesting beginning. "Then Museum Dreams" (6:55) comes, with a similar atmosphere to the previous one, a very singular chorus and a very interesting final change. The third piece "Two shades of grey" (4:26) is a treasure of Andersonian ambient decorated with orchestral elements that endow it of a singular beauty. Not less interesting is the orchestral and epic beginning of "Anyman´s tomorrow" (8:20) that probably will be delightful for the fans of the most symphonic sounds a la The Enid. The rest of the pieces moves into acoustic guitars, folk elements, and a very grandiloquent orchestral middle section, with a lot of inheritance of the most pompous and hymnal ELP. It derives into an excessively inflated end. Ideal for the lovers of the most symphonic and tremendous progressive.

"Bardanes" (1:53) is a space madness full with synthesizer's and sound effects that serves as introduction to "Reason to wonder" (3:29), a very atmospheric piece with evident film references thanks to the use of background vocals. The voice of Lewis slips amongst the synthesizers. Correct although quite repetitive. "Mesa Estrana" (1:59) is a short piece in which O´Hara shows his ability with the keyboards. The two minutes become excessively short since the piece is a marvel. At this moment Alaska uncover the best in their ability in "Tiananmen Square" a suite of almost 12 minutes in which we can check the level of the duet. Tremendous displays of keyboards and orchestrations, rhythm changes in each moment, a lot of epic poetry, and, in definitive, the music type that any critic of "indie" magazines would qualify as pretentious, exaggerated, etc..., adjectives that us progheads love. "WellsBridge" (11:12) it begins with a harpsichord similar to that of "Madrigal" of "Tormato" to then become a keyboard in between Wakeman-Emerson. The suite moves into Yes-drama moments with different rhythm changes. "Caring" (3:29) is another beautiful atmospheric piece that remembers to Anderson's more spiritual moments. More dynamic is the closing piece of the CD, "Forests of Heaven" (9:38), with a great vocal melody and exceptional interventions of O´Hara at the keyboards.



If I had to compare this first album of Alaska with something else, I would make it with a mammoth Hollywood sci-fi production full of spectacular explosions and lunar landscapes. Play it to your "grunge" neighbors and they will hate you forever.

author - date - rating - label

Alfonso Algora - July 2000 -   - Transmission