Coming almost five years after the band’s last album, British progressive rockers Coalition release Bridge Across Time, an encounter which takes ears and imagination on a colourful creative journey. Over nine melodically and lyrically suggestive tracks, the album engages on every level, sweeping the listener up in accomplished and stylish endeavours sure to please all prog rock favouring appetites.
Since the release of In Search of Forever as 2012 opened its eyes, the 2010 formed, Reading hailing Coalition has seen its line-up change around the constant presence and songwriting of multi-instrumentalist Steve Gresswell, the man also behind the just as enthralling project The Inner Road. A long time in the making, Bridge Across Time sees guitarist Colin Tench of BunChakeze/Corvus Stone and vocalist/lyricist Blake Carpenter from The Minstrel’s Ghost/Corvus Stone alongside Gresswell, both adding their own distinctive presence and talent to a release showing Coalition at a whole new level of songwriting and adventure.
With Gresswell handling keyboards, drums, and bass guitar, Bridge Across Time swiftly captures the imagination through opener Across the Sea. From the inviting sound of a coastal scene, a picture of melodic beauty courtesy of Tench quickly involves the imagination with darker rhythms in close attention as the warm tones of Carpenter caress the senses. Straight away the gentle climate and welcoming air of the song seduces; its subsequent catchy stroll just as persuasive as Tench’s captivating melodies and craft wrap around it. It is a potency matched in Gresswell’s keys, their presence floating across the picturesque landscape with the emotive heart of the song portrayed by the fine vocals. Jazzier elements add to the enjoyable aural scenery though the operatic background cries do less for the appetite.
It is a potent start to the album which only blossoms further as Fantasy Island escapes the imagination of the trio. For no apparent reason thoughts of a Wicker Man solitude and secrecy is sparked by the opening setting of school children within another pastoral setting, though soon lost as keys and guitar weave an intimate yet broad canvas of sound and suggestion. A festival of riveting hooks and infectious ideas, whether brief or lingering, the track hits the spot in no time, Carpenter’s voice a thought engaging narrator to it all. Across its eight minutes, there is a plethora of things going on which eventually unveil themselves across further listens, something applying to the whole of the release, with the wonderful almost mischievous flames of sax a treat which instantly excites, as too the rolling bouts of piano and floral strings.
From its initial colder climate, the following Labyrinth becomes a festival of folkish hues and catchy revelry, again a more insular atmosphere to the song’s story coming over; a village bound character accompanying its sound as emotive outpourings line words and voice. That operatic texture is repeated again and makes a better fit if still not for personal tastes but only adds to the eventful elements and character of the magnetic track before Land of Dreams serenades with its simple but so potent melodies and Carpenter’s intimate presence within rising orchestral breezes. Bewitching and increasingly powerful with every outing, the track keeps the album in command of attention with sublime ease especially as its livelier side takes care of a physical involvement.
Through the melancholic yet vivacious Lost Soul and the Celtic spiced River Song, the track more with an undercurrent of that flavouring than openly wearing its charm, Bridge Across Time invites greedier attention from ears and imagination, that even though neither quite matches up to their predecessors. This alone shows the strength and quality of the album, a potency more than reinforced by The Light with its flirtatiously bubbly keys and evocative melodies and Valley of Shadows where wistful but bold melodies join the poetic enticement of brass and strings.
Completed by the worldly and epically compelling exploits of The Watcher, a final major highlight, Bridge Across Time is a progressive treat to embrace and take your time with, the rewards a continuous offering. Its tracks are certainly lengthy but no track feels anywhere near its distance and only holds ears and focus tight throughout to defuse any prior objections from a punk bred appetite.
Coalition is back and revelling in the imagination of three rather talented and technically adventurous musicians.
Bridge Across Time is out now and available @ https://coalitionprog.bandcamp.com/album/bridge-across-time
Pete RingMaster 21/01/2016
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