David Cross and Richard Palmer-James ... I am sure I have the full attention now of the prog music lovers of my generation. The magic word is of course King Crimson. Another big name on this recording is that of drummer Craig Blundell who is developing into one of the finest drummers in prog land and has a lot of exposure because he is working with Steven Wilson. The King Crimson line-up with David Cross, Bill Bruford and the late John Wetton was just amazing. This was partly due to the unique sound of David's violin and Mellotron. For some reason I missed the 2008 live album “Alive in the Underworld”. But I have besides all that classic King Crimson material some earlier work of David Cross (“The Big Picture”, “Exiles”) in my CD collection. In that 2008 line-up you can already find the names of Mick Paul, Paul Clarke and Alex Hall. So these guy are playing with each other for some time now. And even played earlier live versions of some of the material that you can find on this wonderful album. Maybe this is one of the reasons that the band is on fire on this album. We are talking about the “Sign Of The Crow” album of the David Cross Band.
Jinian Wilde - voice; David Cross - violin; Paul Clarke - guitar; Alex Hall - keyboards (tracks 2,3,4); Mick Paul - bass; Craig Blundell - drums
Various keyboards, noises and mistakes contributed by David Cross, Mick Paul and Paul Clark as the mood took them.
Lyrics by Richard Palmer-James
The opening tracks “Starfall” and the title track “Sign of the Cross” are somewhat overwhelming. “Starfall” opens with crazy time signatures and develops into a brooding and heavy prog rock beast with some jazz fusion elements. Screaming violin solo's and great drumming by Craig Blundell in this track. The band steams ahead with the title track “Sign of the Crow”. Alex Hall is playing the keyboards in this piece and the two following tracks. The band goes full throttle in this piece. On top of a steady rhythm section the synth, violin and guitar solo's are following each other. The listener is gasping for air but the band is not yet ready for slowing down.
“Crowd Surfing” is also an up tempo rock piece with lovely violin parts. After this overwhelming opening the band is slowing down with the beautiful “The Pool”. This piece brings back some memories of early King Crimson. Jinian Wilde delicately sings the beautiful Richard Palmer-James lyrics and after this you can enjoy wonderful and melodic violin melodies and soaring guitar parts. All this while Craig is playing for the composition and Mick Paul is playing a delicious fretless bass part. At some point the violin and guitar melodies are joining forces. The delicate violin parts of David Cross are wonderful. For me this track is one of the highlights of this album.
After a brooding and mysterious “Raintwist” the following track track “Spiderboy” has a greater diversity than the hectic first two pieces but also in this track you can find some freaky violin parts. The more rock based “Mumbo Jumbo” has also fine violin parts. Then it is time for another rest point in the album. You can find wonderful and breathtaking violin melodies in the slow “Water on the Flame”. The album closes with a track called “Rain Rain”. Like “The Pool” the first vocal parts reminds me of the early King Crimson period. But the track develops into a brooding rock piece with heavy guitars and great violin solo's.
The hectic and heavy opening with “Starfall” and the title track “Sign of the Crow” impressed me and could be a little bit overwhelming. But you can also find breathtaking melodies in my personal favorites “The Pool” and “Water on the Flame”. The album presents a mixture of light and dark atmospheres. The lighter side of the album is represented by the wonderful melodies and the darker side with the more heavy and complex parts. I am looking forward to see this band in a live setting. The band will play the prestigious Night of the Prog festival this year. If you like electric violin in your prog this “Sign Of The Crow” album of the David Cross Band is definitely one for you.