Amplifier – Echo Street

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Review by Ian Savage

kscope Music

Okay, I’ll come clean straight away – I’m not the world’s biggest fan of progressive rock. I own Dark Side Of The Moon the same as everyone, and have had occasional forays into Rush, Porcupine Tree and their ilk, but the reason I was drawn to this album was through an interview with the band by MR’s own Russ Powney (here) which hinted at the band’s alternative approach to the music business in general and the idea of an album as merely a springboard for experimentation. Given that the band have also plucked Steve Durose from the wreckage of Oceansize, the band’s fourth album promises much even for a mainstream rock listener.

Unfortunately on a casual first listen, Echo Street is musical flock wallpaper; you may notice it or not, and you’d have to be really paying attention to remember anything about it an hour later. Given ten or twelve listens awaiting a ‘road to Damascus’ moment this reviewer is still firmly in Jerusalem – despite some undoubtedly well-crafted production (‘Go Where The River Goes’  features some beautiful vocals and sweeping guitar sounds, and the close harmonies on ‘Between Today And Yesterday’ are a masterclass in vocal interplay) the overall feel is throwaway, a band chucking together some songs around limited chord progressions and then stretching them out for seven to twelve minutes.

One may very well assume that, um, ‘chemical enhancement’ would improve the listenability of this offering; not one of my own vices, but given the right herbs and spices this seemingly bland concoction could conceivably become something rather special. You don’t usually request coriander, turmeric and garam masala at the local Indian restaurant, though, and if you had to you’d assume that the chef wasn’t putting enough effort in; this is exactly the feeling left by Echo Street. Disappointing.

Amplifier – Echo Street5 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Matmos
  2. The Wheel
  3. Extra Vehicular
  4. Where the River Goes
  5. Paris in the Spring
  6. Between Today & Yesterday
  7. Echo Street
  8. Mary Rose