Progressive Rock multi-instrumentalist Robert Reed (MAGENTA / SANCTUARY / CHIMPAN A / KOMPENDIUM) is formerly known for his heavily Mike Oldfield influenced solo work, but in 2020 Rob turned to the Electronic Music world with a new melodic studio album released over 3 Versions and with a sound heavily steeped in the sounds and feel of two of the genre’s finest exponents: Jean-Michel Jarre and Vangelis!
- Erthynge [8:18]
- The Hawk And The Harbinger Of Dawn [1:19]
- Stoneborn Watchers [5:24]
- The Man Of Sight And Feathers [8:07]
- Witness [4:39]
- Stoneglow Warnings [6:31]
- Stalemate [5:05]
- Dust And Flowers In A Lost Eden [0:53]
- Gatherings At Farewell Places [7:34]
- Erthsheelde [8:08]
- The Odyssey Of Souls
CD+DVD – This features the main CD+DVD (inc 5.1 Surround Mix) set packaged in a 4-Panel Card Sleeve.
"At the age of 8 I had two albums for Christmas: ‘The Sound Of Music’ and ‘Tubular Bells’. The latter defined my musical path. That same Christmas my brother had: Jean-Michel Jarre’s 'Oxygen' LP as his present. Over the years, and especially of late, I've realised how much of an influence that electronic music album has been to me over the years.
From Jarre to Vangelis, from ULTRAVOX to DEPECHE MODE, from John Carpenter to TANGERINE DREAM, this is the resulting album..." Robert Reed - October 2020.
Here is a brief outline of what to expect from the ‘Curcus 123 430’ album…
The melodic opener ‘Erthynge’ is VERY influenced by Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Oxygene’ with an added voice-over part from Les Penning.
This is followed by ‘The Hawk And The Harbinger Of Dawn’ a short quiet atmospheric all-instrumental tune that serves as an interlude between the opener and ‘Stoneborn Watchers’, a sprightly JMJ meets Vangelis (think the ‘Albedo 0.39’ album) that's very 70's analogue synth sounding. The track evolves from a simple, yet effective melody line that develops beautifully as layer upon layer of variations are woven into the expanding production.
A bit of TANGERINE DREAM meets Vangelis is heard in the arrangement of: ‘The Man Of Sight And Feathers’ with its strong thematic melody line. The piece features another Les P narrative over the central part and as it moves into the later half the music becomes more gentle and mellow for a while before the rhythms kick in again with a more stronger driving force and includes so excellent some key changes along the way.
There’s an ethereal intro to ‘Witness’ before the rhythms comes in accompanied by a strong but simple melody line that is gradually layered and embellished as the piece moves on. A high-flying counter melody line soars in from the heavens and takes the track on a new multi-level course, all set over a very steady rhythmic flow.
A fast moving sequenced rhythm opens ‘Stoneglow Warnings’ over a hail of spacey effects and synth swishes & swooshes, before a note-bending synth moves from high to low frequencies and back again as the track evolves into a proper JMJ-like tune.
The melodic tour-de-force ‘Stalemate’ roars in with dramatic synth intro set over electro drum beats and includes another piece of voice over from Les P, before heading into: ‘Dust And Flowers In A Lost Eden’, a short but nicely effective rising synth interlude track.
The penultimate track: ‘Gatherings At Farewell Places’ is over seven minutes of synth music that’s a bit like 'Spiral' period Vangelis. It starts with a simple melody line over a bed of string synth textures and a simple rhythmic drive before sparkling synth embellishments expand the piece into a more expansive landscape beautifully and that's where it really starts to take-off with choral backdrops adding an ethereal edge. There is a striking atmospheric passage in the middle with a Les Penning narrative, then it reverts to a full-blown variation of the initial main synth melody line flanked by a wall of choral voices and then closing with soaring mini-Moog style bending notes set over a sea of string synth textures.
The three-part finale: ‘Erthsheelde’ is one of the best, most melodic tracks on the album with a strong synth lead backed with choral voices leading the way in before sequencers start the track’s motor running. Again the tune is raw and simple but quickly embellished by a hail of other synth layers and textures
The final Les P voice over comes in the middle section before the track takes off in grandiose style with an epic climax very much in the vein of a Jean-Michel Jarre / Vangelis fest to finish the album off in style.
Conclusion: As with all Rob Reed releases, ‘Cursus 123 430’ is an overall quality product, with the – at times - powerful music coming very much from the melodic Electronic Music sounds of the late 70’s, and it’s all about simple themes embellished to the hilt with brilliant layering and analogue production techniques. This is a Prog keyboards player’s work driven by the tunes and rhythms in its creator’s heart, and certainly not music derived from the improvisations of the “Berlin School” pioneers that were Klaus Schulze and TANGERINE DREAM (in their earlier transition). It IS however firmly rooted in the sounds and styles of 70’s Jean-Michel Jarre and Vangelis coming through loud and clear, with perhaps some of TD’s later, more tuneful material emerging occasionally.
Going back in the annals of time here was also a little known seventies UK (I think) synthesizer musician called Paul Brooks who made an album that sounded very much like this one … for now the title escapes me, but those of you out there that own a copy will know who the one I mean.
For his first EM album, Rob should take pride in what he has produced.