Recorded, mixed and digitally pre-remastered at MSL using Roland D50/U110, Ensoniq Mirage, Akai S1000, Yamaha DX7/TX7/TG77/FB01/RX5|
- Arrival [5:40]
- The Folly [6:34]
- Caravan [4:13]
- Celebration [5:20]
- The Dream [3:30]
- Flying Machine [4:02]
- After Dark [5:57]
- Procession [5:59]
- Secrets [4:18]
- The Watchkeeper [6:21]
- Departure [1:43]
- Return to Battle [6:48]
All titles written and performed by M. Shipway except track 11 by M. Shipway and S. Smith.
Michael's much awaited follow-up to 'Into Battle' visually appeals with it's impressive packaging and excellent sleevenotes - a professional image which is becoming a Surreal to Real trademark.
The CD starts with 'Arrival', a track which really sets the pace for the rest of the album featuring upbeat melodics created by a wide array of synth voices including mandolin at one stage. Another strong melody is the basis of 'The Folly' which is woven around percussion lines which feature some unusual samples - effective and enjoyable. A short but superb piano interlude is featured during the latter stages to really put the icing on a fine track.
'Caravan' uses delicate percussion and guitar voices to set a more relaxed pace somewhat reminiscent of Waveform's 'Gently Does It'. 'Celebration' returns to a more upbeat pace while 'The Dream' is carried along by an Enigma style rhythm overlaid by soothing synth lead producing one of my favourite moments.
Images as disparate as calming water samples (what self respecting modern synth album is complete without them?!) and clanking industrial percussion are blended together by another excellent tune to form 'Flying Machine', while 'After Dark' features probably the strongest and most infectious melody on the album.
Beautiful piano heralds 'Procession' which is a more grandiose affair then previous tracks. 'Secrets' sounds like a laid back version of themes visited earlier in the album and 'The Watchkeeper', after quite a deliberate start, develops into a thunderous Shreeve-like blast.
'Departure' is really too short to develop it's promising theme leaving 'Return to Battle' to close proceedings with a radical remix of 'Into Battle'. I don't think this remix has done the original any favours however, being one of the few disappointments on the album.
'Into Battle' was always going to be a tough act to follow, and I feel that many listeners, as I did, may greet initial airings of 'Folly' with a tinge of disappointment. However, the positive comments in this review have been borne out of repeated listenings to an album which has a lot to offer if one cares to look.
RATING: * * * *
GG - Zenith Magazine