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TOM NEWMAN Faerie Symphony Esoteric (2009)

Tom Newman

If this 1977 instrumental curio sounds like a sawn-off Tubular Bells, then it has grounds to: ex-July guitarist Newman was at the faders when Master Oldfield emptied his head into Richard Branson's Manor Studios, and he stayed on to produce a number of albums there until a falling-out with the boss found him on the street - or in this case, the barge.

It's a testament to his trade that Tom Newman crafted this slight but always engaging work - a processional fusion of English pastoral, Eastern and Celtic soundscapes with a core in the formidable support of his former band mates (now working as Jade Warrior) - on a mere canal boat.

Patiently layering sound upon sound, Newman built a body of work, which if not quite achieving the mass of the Bells, gets pretty close. Pattering and tinkling sounds build to walls of FX-driven squalling guitar, with even some near-Mike moments on tracks such as 'Dance of Daoine Sidhe'.

A sustained narrative with just the right mix of light and shade afford this composition necessary density, and not only sustains interest but merits revisiting. Kicked to bits by punk on release, perhaps these times will be kinder to a spirited attempt to be different - and reveal how less (at just over 30 minutes) can be more.


Review by Peter Muir

Peter Muir presents "Progressive Rock Fusion" on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday 19:00, Monday 19:00

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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