“Serenity in a Nutshell” – Powerful synths and soft slow drums fill the room as the ‘show’ begins. Then that cool slow progression of synths and amazing electric guitar as the melody and rhythm take hold. Definitely more than a moment of serenity. Then wonderful soft acoustic guitar and an equally soft female voice. “If this world were any brighter I’d have to close my eyes.” “Tranquility absorbs the power that we posses.” “It spits it all around.” Then an awesome lead electric guitar soars into the sky with Sharra and Anisha’s voices sharing lead. “A dream of better times.” A 13:12 epic full of the kind of guitar, drums, and synths you remember from all of those great Genesis albums of the past. Then they add in some great acoustic guitar reminiscent of Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat. The rushing lead guitar riffs will pull you in if those ever present acoustic riffs don’t. Spellbound, as this epic ebbs and flows. An epic up front to grab you and concentrate your thoughts and ears. Imagine lying in a field looking up at either stars or clouds and listening to this. They really have captured serenity in a song. And so begins this step into elsewhere.
“Out of the Cold” – Those wonderful guitar chords you remember from early Genesis and so many others open this perfectly. Then Anisha’s voice again welcomes you back. “Ooh so many days vanish into haze.” “Words just can’t explain.” Yep. A beautiful voice with the power to capture the image in song. Then the guitar riffs and the perfectly synchronized drums start an early romp. But Anisha comes back to offer more soft comforts along with the mix of incredible organ synths, blazing electric and soft acoustic providing background.
“The Exposure of Truth” – Beautiful piano and some of the best lyrics on the album. You can tell in her voice that Sharra is having a good time. It’s as if the artist has taken a truth serum. “And if I were one of them I’d make it to be played over and over again.” “Left on repeat they’d know it was me.” Those playful piano keys remind me of some of IZZ’s early work. This song is one of the best on the albums. You should have fun when you are recording and playing music and you can feel that so well on this song and the entire album. When you’re making good music that you love it does shine through.
Then one of my favorite lines, “I’d like to spend my waking hours orchestrating and synthesizing my magnum opus.” Sharra’s ooh, ooh, ooh, and ah, ah, ahs are perfectly placed to add sarcasm so well. The piano that follows is just wonderful. You don’t want it to end, but the rest of the soundscape builds as instrumentation takes over the storytelling.
“Walking in Shadows” – Flute and electric guitar enter first on this morning like opening to the song. Then a fluid ramble of drums, electric and synths reminiscent of some of IZZ’s best early rockers kicks into gear. But not before some excellent bass work.
In case anyone thought these guys could not rock, they dispel all notions here. There is a much heavier departure after the soft opening.
Sharra’s voice reminds me of Kim’s from Touchstone on this one. The excellent piercing guitar chords are wonderful. That ever present bass is perfect as well. The heavy nature of this one makes it another favorite. Sharra’s voice reaches a peak on this song. There is however enough balance between the heaviness and those dreamy synth sequences with Sharra’s voice soothing in between the electric sonic blasts. When they take off on a synth roll with ripping guitars you just want to be live at the show.
“The Secret Country” – Beautiful piano and synths that just lift you higher as the melody progresses. An instrumental romp which will bring back any number of memories from prog’s glorious past. Unfortunately one of the shortest songs on the album. The guitar work will bring back memories of Anthony Phillips. Wish they would have made this into a much longer…ok…magnum opus.
“Zenobia” – The epic and best song on the album for me. Which was hard to choose, since the album is perfect. There are no throw away songs on this one.
Read the history on the title character here and you can begin to understand the full epic glory of this song. Those awesome acoustics which open the song will bring back more memories as will the launching electric guitar and solid drums supported by those ever lifting synths. Anisha’s voice is again at the top of her game. The melodies and soundscape are tremendous. They use the flute and acoustics so well on this song. The synthesizer and instrumental section with the piano accompanying is just perfect. The acoustic adds to the feeling and warmth of the instrumental section well. When they take off it reminds me so much of my favorite IZZ song Deafening Silence. Not at all a copy, very original, just similar in grandness and a tip of the hat to all of the great prog bands upon whose shoulders they stand. The closing acoustics, soaring electric guitar and synths complete the story well.
This is an incredible and moving piece of music. I just hope this band gets back together and releases the new album their website says is ready for production. There is so much potential in this band that it needs to be heard. I think they leave room to step it up just one more notch. The jump from their last to this album was a steep jump, so I think they are on the brink of an even more perfect album in their next effort.
By the way, perfect name, Cirrus clouds from the city by the bay.
This has been an incredible year of discovery of new music for me. This would be one of the best albums of the year if only it was made this year. It will definitely force me to revise my top ten from last year.
So glad these guys call Washington home. We need more great progressive bands in this state. Definitely looking forward to more from this band someday.
Reviewed by Prof on November 6th, 2010