Friday, July 14, 2017

COSMOGRAF - The Hay-Man Dreams (2017)

COSMOGRAF - The Hay-Man Dreams (2017) full

"The Hay-Man Dreams" is the new album released today by COSMOGRAF, the progressive rock one-man band lead by talented Robin Armstrong, a multi instrumentalist musician from Portsmouth UK. Armstrong, also called 'Master of all things Chronometric and Progometric', it's a perfectionist with attention to every detail.
However, for the recording he brought many guests to help make his music diverse and stunningly performed.

Ostensibly a one-man project, one of the strengths of Cosmograf is that Robin is always open to allowing others into the fold. Perhaps it has something to do with an acceptance of his limitations where certain instruments are concerned.
Or perhaps, just as likely, it is because Robin is an intelligent chap and he understands the fact that his compositions can benefit from the inclusion of others.
This time around, the cast of guest musicians is different but no less mouth-watering, featuring Kyle Fenton on drums, Big Big Train's violinist Rachel Hall, former BBC voice-over artist David Allan as the narrator, The Fierce And The Dead's guitarist Matt Stevens, and the returning vocalist Rachael Hawnt. Robin himself handles all the songwriting and production duties as well as being the primary vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist and bassist.

“The Hay-Man Dreams” is a Prog album by nature, however, it's significantly more influenced by classic rock than any of Cosmograf past albums.
There is more grit and riff to this album, and even the vocals feel more inspired by classic rock bands. Robin’s guitars, too, are far bluesier and rock oriented than on other albums, and his bass guitar is far bulkier and fuller.

His Gilmour influence has always been notable, but that is all but gone on this album. Instead, there is far more in the way of bluesy musings and straight up riffing, and these differences add character to the album overall.
The use of piano seems to be more prevalent on this album, as well, with plenty of gorgeously performed passages, such as on “Melancholy Death of a Gamekeeper”, where it is paired with some very classic rock inspired guitar work.

Many of the tracks offer very elusive proggy touches that really make them great, but you often cannot put your finger on why the song grabs you so well. On the other hand, other tracks showcase classic rock attitude and rumble in all their glory.
A perfect example of this dichotomy is the relationship between “Trouble in the Forest” and “The Motorway”. The former is one of the subtlest songs I’ve heard this year (possibly due to the prog ambient effects from Matt Stevens), and yet the progression here is significant and transcendent, as the song seems to hang in midair. “The Motorway”, in contrast, starts softly, but then transitions into a rock song with grit and wind in its hair.

COSMOGRAF - The Hay-Man Dreams (2017) inside

As always, this album features a fantastic concept. Cosmograf has always been about the longings and struggles of the human spirit. Robin’s music is also always ominous and thoughtful, whether in composition or in lyrical concept, in order to facilitate that concept, too.
Robin’s imaginative lyrics are definitely a high point for each and every album, and this album is no different.

"The Hay-Man Dreams" is one of the most interesting - and solid - Prog record I heard for a while. It's progressive in essence and in many arrangements, but also taking inspiration from British classic rock. This album is not only interesting in its concept, but it is also sublime in its contrasting compositions.
Confident, assured, intelligent and beautiful; that’s Cosmograf and that’s "The Hay-Man Dreams".
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Tethered and Bound
02 - Trouble in the Forest
03 - The Motorway
04 - Cut the Corn
05 - Melancholy Death of a Gamekeeper
06 - Hay-Man

Robin Armstrong - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Rachael Hawnt - Vocals
Kyle Fenton - Drums
Matt Stevens - Guitar Solo, Ambient Effects
Rachel Hall - Violin
David Allan - Narration




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