What I like about Cryptic Vision’s “Moments of Clarity”, is that the band keeps away from the instrumental wanking that saturates the work of so many other US prog rock bands, and they concentrate exclusively on writing good songs. Their style is derived from Yes influenced US bands like Starcastle and Kansas with the melodic savvy of art-rock bands like City Boy. Also, within it’s slick, modern sound-scape, can be heard the threads of recent US neo bands like Alaska and Ad Infinitum.
The Florida-based band is truly inspired by European prog rock from the Halcyon Days (as mentioned) in their liner notes. The band consists Todd Plant - Lead and Backing Vocals, Rick Duncan - Drums, Keyboards, Mellotron, Acoustic and Rhythm Guitars, Bass Guitar, Djembe and Robert Van Dyne - Keyboards, Guitar .
Many Guest Musicians play on selected tracks - Shawn Bowen, Matt Burke, John Leblanc. Additional bass guitar tracks: Brian Carpenter, Fretless Bass: Mike Carello, Violin tracks: David Ragsdale, Jennifer Gehl, Jeff Fara, Djembe tracks: GJ Gosman, Additional keyboard tracks: Howard Helm, Additional vocals: Sage, Candance Peters, Kelly Shaefer, Jeff Cope and Narration: Roy Winkelmann.
The core of the band has been around for a long time. Vocalist Todd Plant has worked with former members of bands like Chicago, Doobie Brothers, and Steely Dan. But this music, although listener-friendly like Neo-Prog, harkens back to the 70s.
The album begins with the Floyd-tinged intro “Introspective” which leads to the Neo-flavoured “New Perpective”. The opening tracks are not earth-shattering; the album takes it’s time developing. Tracks interweave, each blending a variety of moods. “Grand Design” could fit very nicely on one of Starcastle’s early albums. “Angeline” is more AOR, with hooky chorus and sounds, with its violin work and vocal delivery, like latter Kansas.
The album really starts to cook with “Losing Faith” and the string of tracks that follow. The beautiful acoustic piece is followed by “Angel’s Requiem” with its haunting female vocal harmonies, a track worthy of early Renaissance, and far too short at only 2 minutes and change. “Colored Leaf” builds to moog-inspired climax. From here, the album shifts into full throttle and delivers a blend of heavier tracks which are dominated by aggressive lead guitar and a bevy of frantic keys. The title track, at 12 and a half minutes, gives everything a prog rock group should
While not flagrant in delivery, the blend of creative and diverse keys, and melodic but aggressive guitar work on this album shows Cryptic Vision to be band of respectable instrumental virtuosity. I already mentioned they have a flair for good song writing. The one thing that makes for improvement is how progressive they choose to be. A wonderful track like “Angel’s Requiem” needs to be pushed further; to be extended and developed to reach its progressive potential.
If, on its next release, Cryptic Vision chooses to push the envelope further, they have the potential to become one of the US’ premier prog rock bands. For now, their debut release has many great moments and shows a promise of great things to come.