Friday, July 28, 2006

Album Review: Fish Out of Water

This album can be considered a bookend to Olias of Sunhillow. It was recorded by Chris Squire, bass player and co-founder of Yes, during the same period as Olias. It has nothing in common with Olias except for the quality of its work. Squire has crafted a dense and darkly orchestrated album, backboned by his muscular but agile bass playing. The five songs on the album flow into each other, divergent in content and tone, yet all blending together into a coherent musical suite.

Squire's strength as a composer is in two main areas: his ability to create a motif and then thematically build on it with subtle variations of ever increasing complexity, and his ear for arrangement to get the most out of his rather straightforward ideas. The musicians he chooses to back himself with are some of the finest jazz/rock fusion players in the world. The unique sound is due to the lack of a guitar - pianos, flutes, saxophones, organs and orchestration take their turn in supplying the melodic instrumentation. Squire's vocals are mediocre but sufficient.

This is Carlene's favourite album. It is also the pinnacle of Squire's work, perhaps only approached by the Yes album Drama, which he co-wrote and shared vocals on.For anybody wanting to get into prog rock, but actually wants to hear structure, cohesiveness and pleasant melodies as well as virtuoso playing and experimental tones, there is no finer place to start.

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