G e n e s i s o m a n i a


Landmarq"Solitary Witness"

Released: 1992Label: SICat. No.: Simply 14 Total Time: 59:33
Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, October 2000 I've had this CD for quite a while, probably from not long after it was released. The track that has always stood out for me was "Terracotta Army." Whether it was because I got the reference or because it was the most distinctive track on the album, I don't know, but listening to the whole album again after such a long time, it is still the one that leaps out at me. Now, to say that Solitary Witness sounds a great deal like Arena or Shadowland would be stating the obvious - the man behind some of the lyrics and all the production (with Karl Groom) is none other than Mr. Everywhere himself, Clive Nolan. But of Nolan's projects or projects he's been involved in, this is the one that sounds the most like Marillion (post-Fish mostly), especially during the first two tracks, "Killing Fields," and "Forever Young." In the latter of these two it is Uwe D'Rцse's guitar, Steve Leigh's keys, and Damien Wilson's vocals that put this in early-Hogarth-era Marillion. In fact, there is a bit of the guitar solo during "Forever Young" that seems to quote "Kayleigh," if but briefly (though more than once).It is fairer to say that Landmarq are more solidly in the neo-prog camp here than Wilson's other former gig Threshold, which was more metallic. And yet they are bit harder-edged and darker than on their current output with Tracy Hitchings on vocals (though not because she's on vocals, as she isn't a soft voiced singer - ethereal isn't a word you'd associate there). "April First" is one of two instrumentals that fit quite nicely in with the other tracks (the other is "Freefall"). Like the spring it is trying to evoke, it is an open and light arrangement, full of sustained guitar notes, sparse percussion, and breathy keys, including warm piano, and quite classical at points (if it's quoting at the end, I can't name the piece)."Foxing The Fox" is a song about hunting, half told from the fox's point of view - which shows the ugly, truthful side to the hunt, contrasting with the faux civility on the part of the hunters. Stylistically, it reminded me of early Saga. Wilson's delivery matches the running pace the fox is moving at, trying to escape certain death, and the pumping base only serves to underscore the stride of the crafty fox.This is, by no means, a complaint. I'm almost certain it was these very "neo-progisms" that lead me to buy the album in the first place, coming out at a time when I was seeking out Marillion singles and such and finding there just weren't enough to satisfy. That meant I had to seek succor in similarly styled bands. And it is through this album that I came to know Nolan, and began seeking out projects that he was involved in. The other thread I followed from this album was Damien Wilson, he of the Robert Plant-like voice and prog metal dynamics (which also means I was easy candidate for other prog metal bands). Listening to it now, which much more careful attention, I'm finding so much more to like about this album. The highlights for me are D'R&oum;se's guitar and Wilson's vocals. Which isn't to suggest the rest of the band are slouches.But, as you delve deeper into the album, you see that it isn't only Nolan behind it. As most of the music was composed by Leigh, along with Wilson on some tracks, D'Rцse on others, and Steve Gee on still others...or some combination thereof... you realize that Nolan is only responsible for the lyrics on three, including "Terracotta Army." Gee is, of course, the brother of Pendragon bassist Peter Gee, Nolan's other gig. "Terracotta Army" refers to the thousands of terracotta soldiers that were uncovered in China in 1990. They were found in the tomb of the fifth emperor of the Han Dynasty, Jingdi (157 to 141 BCE), and are about 24 inches tall. Each has a unique face, perhaps representing actual soldiers...something which Nolan suggests as well. In the song, Nolan posits that these soldiers are just waiting for their time of return, that when the moment is right, they will come to life again. The ruler, here a king, created these soldiers to continue his rule beyond his own death. The guitar sings in time with Wilson during the verses, and gets crunchy, along with the dark bass and percussion for the chorus."Tippi Hedren" begins with the keening of birds, a heavy drum beat, and an energetic guitar phrase - actually, I think this same arrangement was used by Duran Duran on their Rio album. I say this only half joking, as it really does sound like the intro to -- um, well, nevermind. That implies I have way too much knowledge about Duran Duran. When Wilson begins singing, you clearly know that it isn't, um, that other band. I'm not quite sure what this song is about beyond making references to Tippi Hedren (obviously) and her celluloid persona(s). Though in one interpretation, I see the protagonist as a Hedren's stalker, though aware of his own madness. At one point, Nolan makes reference to Psycho, but that was Janet Leigh, of course. Hedren's only Hitchcockian adventure was The Birds. I'm not sure if reference is also being made to another of her better known films, Marmie, where she has a little problem with lying, but that would tie into the lyric "spitting poison at all her men." "Suite: St Helens" starts out with a keyboard phrase that was later slowed a bit and used on Jadis' Somersault in the track "Batstein." Well, I don't know that it was, but hearing them both one after the other and simultaneously, they sound almost exactly alike. That "almost" is due to the tempo and to the rest of the instrumentation. In "St. Helens," the guitars and drums come in for a second, then fade, return again for a longer bit, fade, return, fade, return for several times while the same keyboard phrase is repeated - all this for a 1:15. "Batstein" dives right into the guitar and percussion without fades. "St Helens" is broken into four sections, and concerns at points Mt. St. Helens, a volcano in Washington State, which erupted in May 1980. But this is used as an example of both of the vagaries of nature and of how we are destroying our own planet. The latter theme is the more prominent of the two.The album closes with the bright and hopeful "Borders" "Better find some common ground/A place to stand/Better make a truce somehow/Believe me!" Wilson sings on this Nolan penned track. With current events today - and I don't just mean this year, but this week! - this message of this song is still true - meaning not much has changed in 8 years. The need to find peaceful solutions to our differences or to just realize that our differences aren't worth killing or dying for is still prevalent. Oh, unless it's been reissued, this album was released on the old, defunkt, SI label (as well as by Zero Corporation/ Toshiba-EMI Ltd in Japan).
More about Solitary Witness:Track Listing:
Killing Fields (4:51) / Forever Young (8:51) / April First (4:53) / Terracotta Army (6:35) / Freefall (3:32) / Tippi Hedren (7:40) / After I Died Somewhere (3:32) / Suite: St. Helens (9:40) / Borders (5:00)
Steve Leigh - keyboards
Uwe D'Rose - guitars
Steve Gee - basses
David Wagstaffe - drums
Damien Wilson - vocals
Ian Salmon - guitar (6)

Landmarq"Infinity Parade"

Released: 1993Label: SI MusicCat. No.: Simply 32 Total Time: 54:27
Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, October 2000 Infinity Parade, the second album from UK band Landmarq is different from their debut, Solitary Witness in many respects. Although the duo of Clive Nolan and Karl Groom produced, and the album contains their indelible stamp, this is a gentler Landmarq, a sound that is closer to their most recent studio album, Science Of Coincidence, than before. In fact, I could easily hear Tracy Hitchings (their current vocalist) singing the chorus to "The More You Seek The More You Lose." This is a more mature Landmarq, and yet I haven't really decided which is their stronger release.The album opens with Steve Gee on pipes, giving "Solitary Witness" a Celtic feel. Yes, the song here is the title of their previous album. On their third, The Vision Pit, there is a track called "Infinity Parade," and on their fourth, Science..., there is a track called "The Vision Pit." Anyway, instead of the vocal gymnastics vocalist Damien Wilson used on Solitary (and much more so with his other former band Threshold), Wilson sings in a more controlled manner, which makes him sound a bit more like Fish and less like Robert Plant. That isn't to say Wilson doesn't contort his voice around melodies - the carnival-like arrangement of "Gaia's Waltz" gives him an opportunity to twist around an awkward rhythm, and he makes it seem so easy. This waltz is more tango than stuffy, formalized gliding across a polished floor. Because I have been absorbed in Arthurian Legend these past few weeks (the fruits of which will appear in the January issue of Progression), this track can't help but make me think of Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists Of Avalon. There is a point where Morgaine (Morgan Le Fey, in some versions) disappears into the land of fairy. In "Gaia's Waltz," she comes home from a day in the city, disrobes and begins to dance...essentially and eventually, entering the land of fairy and fantasy. Gaia (or Gaea) represents the Earth and references can be found in mythology. That Nolan has a hand in this somewhere is no more evident than here as well, as there are moments which made me think of "Jericho" from Nolan's own Arena project."Landslide" in an energetic, rocking instrumental. Symphonic keys soften it and the solo, while nice, explores no new territory. There's even a bit that borders on blues rock. Closing the album is the warm ballad "Embrace" (I thought of Fish here on his recent Raingods album and specifically of "Tilted Cross" and "Incomplete") - there is a certain accessibility here that would make it ideal for radio, though it would then be reviled as more pop than prog. I rather like it, though, and there is a nice guitar solo by D'Rцse who wrote the music, the lyrics are Wilson's.The centerpiece here is the 16+ minute "Ta' Jiang." Ta' Jiang means great river in Chinese, and the subject of the song is the declining state of riverside commerce and the pollution of the river itself. But this river is a microcosm for the destruction we are subjecting our planet to. A similar message as in "Suite: St. Helens" on Solitary... and in "Narovyla" on The Vision Pit. It's starts out nicely enough with keys and vocals, full of tension. This gives way to a keening guitar and vocals, to which frenetic drums are added...all of this builds as the tension is released. The pattern begins again for the second phase of this first second - the track is broken into five parts, two of which are instrumental. "Tailspin (Let Go The Line)" uses a vocal layering that could also be heard on Nolan's first Shadowland album Ring Of Roses, specifically the bridge to "The Whistleblower." "Tailspin" is an understated track, where Dave Wagstaffe's bass seems to steady and precise to be real. Languid - that is the pace of this track. There is no hurry to get anywhere, though the pace picks up on the outro, the guitar lead becoming a little anxious. A song that is on the border between being beautiful and dull."The More You See The More You Lose" is the most accessible track, the most lively of the tracks excepting "Landslide." Wilson's vocal melodies carry you along, from verse to verse to chorus, though he speaks-sings the versus and doesn't truly sing until the chorus.
More about Infinity Parade:Track Listing:
Solitary Witness (6:50) / Gaia's Waltz (6:05) / Landslide (3:55) / Ta' Jiang (16:31) / Tailspin (Let Go The Line) (8:37) / The More Your Seek The More You Lose (5:41) / Embrace (6:30)
Uwe D'Rose - electric and acoustic guitars
Steve Gee - fretless and fretted basses
Steve Leigh - piano and synthesizers
Dave Wagstaffe - drums and percussion
Damian Wilson - lead and backing vocals

Landmarq "Science of Coincidence "

Released: 1998Label: Synergy RecordsCat. No.: SYN 002Total Time: 63:16

Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, January 1999 After losing their vocalist to a solo career attempt*, and a brief hiatus, Landmarq return with Tracy Hitchings (Quasar, Strangers On A Train) on vocals and this new album - Science of Coincidence.Musically, the band have lost the harder edge that they had, and thus some of their distinctiveness. This Landmarq is closer to Marillion, Jadis, et al than before. Such that if you were take Hitchings out of the picture, you'd think it was Marillion: the swirling keyboards (Steve Leigh), the melodic guitar lines (Uwe D'Rose). While normally I don't have a problem with bands influenced by others, here it is a letdown.Vocally, Tracy Hitchings gives Landmarq a different character from their contemporaries, but I'm not entirely sure I like her singing voice. There are moments where she is shrill and times when her notes are flat. In fact, during "Heritage," she actually seems to be holding back, and taking an unexpected, and entirely effective, turns. I'm not familiar with Hitchings as vocalist, aside from a single track on an SI Magazine compliation disk, but I'm guessing her style here isn't any different here from past efforts.This is a more pop Landmarq, evidenced by "Summer Madness." This would have been a hit in the summer of '85; it's that poppy. The track I like best is "Lighthouse," where I think Hitchings' range is used to the best effect."Between Sleeping and Dreaming" begins pleasantly enough with a gentle piano intro, but there is something very familiar sounding about this song - or maybe it's just there's something very 70's about it. "More Flames For The Dancer" sounds more like a children's song (maybe because there's choir of children here) - something from a "Disney animated classic" or from the musical Cats. The music lends itself to this image: Hitchings pawing the air, cat-like, during certain lines.It's not a bad album, the music is good and well played and pleasant enough to listen to, but...but Hitchings vocal style does take some getting used to. Personally, I had hoped for something more in the area of Kate Bush, for example. While Hitchings can get close in range, what's missing is an earthy undertone.
More about Science of Coincidence:
Track Listing:
Science of Coincidence (5:14) / The Vision Pit (12:15) / Heritage (5:43) / Summer Madness (7:43) / Lighthouse (10:47) / Between Sleeping and Dreaming (4:33) / More Flames For The Dancer (6:38) / The Overlook (10:11)
Tracy Hitchings - Lead and Backing Vocals
Uwe D'Rose - Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Steve Leigh - Piano, Synths, and Backing Vocals
Dave Wagstaffe - Drums and Backing Vocals
Steve Gee: Basses and Backing Vocals

Landmarq "Thunderstruck"

Released: 1999Label: SynergyCat. No.: Total Time: 50:16

Review courtesy John "Bo Bo" Bollenberg, January 2000 With the arrival of "chanteuse" Tracy Hitchings, a new period in the life of Landmarq was launched. Exit Damien Wilson and to everyone's amazement "welcome Tracy!" In fact, Tracy could've joined Landmarq much sooner, but when Tracy had her solo album From Ignorance To Ecstasy ready she was told that the album would only be released "as long as she didn't join Landmarq!" The asking party was the now defunct Dutch SI label so in the end the CD was released in 1991 and Tracy stayed loyal to her promise: she didn't join Landmarq. But now, thank god, she did.To end one period of time and to start another we can expect two Landmarq live CD's in the coming months. Thunderstruck is the first one containing a very crisp sound which is exactly what can be expected during the band's live performances as well. La Hitchings shines like never before during ace performances of "Pinewood Avenue," "Science Of coincidence" and "Summer Madness." Guitarist Uwe D'Rose is master of ceremony during "The Overlook," getting close to David Gilmour. The sound of [a] "musical" is heard during "Between Sleeping And Dreaming," and also during the intro for "Borders" the arrangement steers into the direction of total recognition. Steve Leigh's keyboards sound ever so clear whilst Dave Wagstaffe's drumming barges right through your speakers. Sadly this recording has been made in front of a small audience (the applause sounds ever so thin) because a much thicker live feel would have done this recording a lot of good. Pity also that we get the album on the size of a CD and no longer on 12" album size because in the middle of all these tiny photographs on the inside sleeve are the nice … breasts of Tracy. For once we finally get sex in progressive rock and we feel sorry that this album isn't available on vinyl! At least the album's sleeve would have taken us close to reality … However a sincere congratulations has to go out to the band for the superb sleeve design which apparently they "found" on the Internet! Now how about a close-up of Tracy dressed as Eve for live album volume
More about Thunderstruck:Track Listing:
Pinewood Avenue (6:14) / Solitary Witness (5:38 / Science Of Coincidence (4:44) / Tailspin (5:02) / The Overlook (9:20) / Between Sleeping And Dreaming (:18) / Borders (4:33) / Summer Madness (10:47)
Tracy Hitchings - vocals
Steve Leigh - keyboatrds
Uwe D'Rose - guitar
Steve Gee - bass
Dave Wagstaffe - drums
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