Tim Blake is back! Or at least he was at the turn of the millennium. In fact, besides 1991’s Magick, Blake’s discography had been dormant ever since 1978’s Blake’s New Jerusalem. Nevertheless, it’s not uncommon to see older prog artists come out of retirement to cobble together something to please the fans, and while The Tide of the Century doesn’t blow the listener away, there are a few moments that shine on the album.
Nature ‘L’ gives the album an uneasy start. Clearly, Blake is still fond of his synthesizers, but do they translate into a more modern setting? His modulated voice in the track seems to yearn for a bygone era. The title track is the first of three longer tracks on the album; this one follows a melancholy theme and blends synthesizers and piano sounds. While there is a contrast of dynamics in the song, including the guitar-like solo near the centre, the plodding pace doesn’t help the listener digest this track.
St. Dolay feels like an opportunity wasted. Changing the dynamics yet again, there is no percussion in this piece, only piano and vocals, with a soupçon of synthesizer for the instrumental. The piano is played very simply, to highlight the emotion of the piece, although it feels as if more power in the instrumental – the introduction of a full band, for example – could have resulted in a more fulfilling song. As it is, it feels like something’s waiting to happen, but never does.
Crystal Island is dreadful, a dawdling mess of a track with weak melodies and little structure. At over eight minutes, it long outstays its welcome. Byzantium Dancing mercifully brings some quality to the album, a punchy instrumental with good rhythm and effects. At over nine minutes, it is by far the longest and best song on the album. I’d love if somebody could tell me the name of the dull-sounding guitar effect sample used repeatedly throughout the track.
One of my favourite holidays was in the Bosnian capital city, but Sarajevo (Remember) simply makes me shudder. As a commemoration of the Bosnian War, it is simply dreadful, from the tacky marching drums to the cheesy synthesizers. All in all, it sounds like a Tangent reject. But the atrocities haven’t finished; the final track Tribulations features Blake’s cack-handed attempt at reggae, featuring “rap vocals” by Loys Kerhoas. Need I say any more?
As there is only one decent track on this album, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to readers of this website. I’m rather glad I received this album after the first two as I’ve been able to process the two experiences separately. Although Esoteric have diligently reissued this album with full artwork and interview, you need not be as diligent in purchasing it.
01. Nature ‘L’ (3:30)
02. The Tide of the Century (8:09)
03. St. Dolay (5:17)
04. Crystal Island (8:19)
05. Byzantium Dancing (9:18)
06. Sarajevo (Remember) (5:16)
07. Tribulations (4:01)
Total Time – 43:45
Tim Blake – Synthesisers, Piano, Vocals
Christiane Vitard – Vocals (tracks 4 & 7)
Marie-Anne Vitard – Vocals (track 7)
Min Tse Chou – Guitar (tracks 5 & 7)
‘Stof’ Kovaks – Analog Synthesizer (track 5)
Loys Kerhoas – Rap Vocals (track 7)
Record Label: Esoteric Recordings
Catalogue#: ECLEC 2591
Date of Release: 25th May 2017