In 2010, Tinyfish released their second full length album entitled The Big Red Spark. I previously reviewed their live dvd, One Night On Fire, and was honored to be able to listen to more of their music. Some of the songs on The Big Red Spark were originally featured on the live dvd as a preview.
The first track “Loose Ends” (3:11) sets the tone and story for this epic concept album. This band is quite a unique one, in that they have spoken word features that help tell the story. I won’t divulge the story because I think it’s something best to discover it for yourself. It does have many levels in the story so you might need to listen several times to fully grasp the concept.
The next track, “Rainland” (6:54) has a heavy opening filled with an almost tribal beat along with some thundering bass then segues into an urgent guitar dominated song. It has some mesmerizing vocals and instrumentation. The spoken word has an eerie vibe to it. This is one of my favorites off the album.
Next up is a spoken word piece where Rob Ramsay narrates the story even more on “A Million Differences” (2:05). The music in the background is very atmospheric and haunting. The last word spoken on this track, “they don’t have the first clue” sends shivers up my spine every time.
“Bad Weather Road” (6:20) starts off with a hollow sounding guitar based groove which turns into a heavy more dramatic version of the beginning part. There’s some ambient sounds backed by some repetitive tribal-like drumming before Simon begins to sing. This is one of the more progressive sounding songs on the album.
“I’m Not Crashing” (4:36) is another one of my favorites and the most accessible sounding songs of the album while staying within the progressive rock genre. This song is very infectious, especially the chorus part.
“Building The Machine” (3:16) and continues with more narration by Rob Ramsay who speaks about another part of the story. Rob has that classic sounding voice that has both warmth and power.
Continuing on with the narration, this time by Ian Houston, on the next track “Refugee” (2:23). There’s a moment when he says “The whole world is building this thing, and they don’t have the first clue” that sent shivers up my spine on the first and consecutive times I heard it. It continues to tell about the story over some very dramatic dark sounding music that only Tinyfish can produce.
Okay now we have the title track “The Big Red Spark” (4:51) which combines everything both musically and lyrically that has happened so far in the story. The chorus is very infectious and I found myself singing along with it. This is another of my favorites of the album and in a way could be their signature sound.
Following up is a semi-acoustic song called “Weak Machine” (3:28) which shows another side of Tinyfish, which segues right into “Activation” (0:38), a narrative piece done by Peter Godfrey, who helps the story along.
The next two tracks “The Final Act” (2:36) and “The Loose Ends Pt. II” (2:42) could be thought of as one song in two pieces with the latter serving as a reprise of the story.
The final song of the album, “Wide Awake At Midnight” (10:21) is the epic which is a perfect way to end off the album. Just like the title track, it showcases everything good about Tinyfish. It’s both progressive and accessible at the same time. This is another of my favorites and could be listened as a standalone (from the main part of the concept album) track.
I read this was about insomnia, so now I have a theme song for those nights when I can’t sleep.
There’s a bonus DVD on this release with an interview with the band as well as four excellent bonus tracks, “The Sarcasm Never Stops”, “Ride”, “Eat The Ashes” and Let’s Get Invisible”. All accept “Ride” was featured in their live DVD.
In closing, Tinyfish have created one of the most ambitious concept album since Pain Of Salvation’s BE. Both of which, have that mysterious vibe within the lyrics and require several listens to have some clue about the concept. As I previously stated, I reviewed their live dvd and to be able to see them at the 2011 edition of Rosfest will be an amazing treat for me. The Big Red Spark is by far one of my favorite albums of 2010 and gets probably the highest recommendation I can give.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on December 3rd, 2010