It's easy for consumers to be misled by stickers and labels attached to a CD when making a impulse purchase. The name of participating artists from well-know bands attached to the project may lead one to believe a similarity exists between the music on the CD and the band the member is associated with. This isn't always the case. In many instances this new project provides the artist the freedom to branch out and explore alternative material he or she might never experience within the confides of their band.
In the case of “Burnt Belief”, the second collaboration between Porcupine Tree bassist Colin Edwin and guitarist Jon Durant, (the first being “Dance Of The Shadow Planet” - 2011) the music has little in common with the popular prog/rock group Porcupine Tree and could disappoint the listener. Yet anyone familiar with Colin Edwin's complete body of work is aware of the musical diversity in his discography and would find “Burnt Belief” a welcome addition to their collection.
The dominance of Porcupine Tree may overshadow the career of this Australian born musician, but his work with bands like Ex-Wise Heads (“No Grey Matter”, “Time And Emotion Study”, “Holding Up The Sky”, “Liquid Assets”, “Celestial Disclosure”, and “Schemata”), Steve Wilson's side project No-Man (“Schoolyard Ghosts” and “Returning Jesus”), as well as his pair of solo albums (“Third Vessel” and “PVZ”) might be a better representation of the electronic ambient music found on “Burnt Belief”. Further proof of his musical diversity can be heard on his other side projects Metallic Taste Of Blood and Random Noise Generator.
More-so than Colin Edwin, the musical direction on “Burnt Belief” can be ascribed to guitarist Jon Durant, a US composer who has been exploring the ambient new age textures found on the album since the release of his debut solo album “Three If By Air” in 1994.
Jon Durant is the executive producer of the Massachusetts based Alchemy Records from where he has produced eight CDs showcasing his pastoral 'cloud guitar' soundscapes – five of which include collaborations with X-Crimson bassist Tony Levin (“Silent Extinction” - 1996, “Anatomy Of A Wish” - 1999, “Brief Light” - 2001, “Things Behind The Sun” - 2004, and “Flood” - 2007).
The album was released on December 12, 2012 to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar – and what many believed to be the end of the civilized world. The title was inspired by Edwin's reading of social psychologist Leon Festinger's book “When Prophecy Falls” - an account of the doomsday UFO cult who believed the world was coming to an end. “Burnt Belief” is an instrumental exploration into the origin of all these strange deluded beliefs.
The instrumentation is a blend electronic and acoustic rhythms, combining sampling synthesizers, 12 string and 'cloud guitar' textures, melodic fretless bass, and prepared piano from Durant and Edwin, as well as Middle Eastern hand percussion – courtesy of Jerry Leake of Ex-Wise Heads, Henry Cow, Hatfield And The North (Tablas, Dumbek, Frame Drum, Rig, Assorted Metals), and flute (track 4 - “Balthasar's Key”) from Geoff Leigh, creating a surreal instrumental tapestry of aural delights. The music fits into the genre of ambient, electronic, jazz fusion, and progressive instrumental rock.
The hauntingly atmospheric music is reminiscent of the albums by 80s' new age artist like John Serrie, David Arkenstone, Tim Blake, Checkfield, Patrick O'Hearn, Shadowfax, Michael Stearns; the post-Happy The Man solo albums of Kit Watkin's (“Azure”, “SunStruck”, “Beauty Drifting”, “Kinetic Vapors” and “The Unseen”); the Tony Levin's solo album “Pieces Of The Sun”; as well as bands such as Gordian Knot, Jade Warrior, Liquid Tension Experiment, and even a dash of Robert Fripp and Crimson to name a few.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on April 19th, 2013