There was a period in the 1980s when new technology became an integral part of popular music and it was an exciting time. Bands like Duran Duran, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Scritti Politti, and clever chaps like Nik Kershaw became part of the rock fan’s record collection and this use of computers in turn added an influence (at least keyboard wise) to Prog outfits like Rush, Spock’s Beard, and Frost*.
The latest album by young Progsters Kyros seems to have set their collective sights on returning to this era and the results are, as Frankie might have said, quite marvellous. Led by all round everything guy Adam Warne, who began this musical quest with 2014’s Synaesthesia followed by the quite remarkable Vox Humana, Celexa Dreams continues the legacy with a more direct cross over to the commercial but with a modernity that is enjoyably based in the future passed. Talking of the soon to be, that is where physical copies of this latest recording will be found as the invasion by the Covid Nineteenoids has delayed the CD format so far.
Signed to White Star Records, which is co-headed by John Mitchell of Lonely Robot, etc. fame, Kyros’s new direction begins to make sense as the ‘sound’ fits into that contemporary prog genre like water in a puddle and sheens this release with a quality veneer of synth-pop, but with Adam Warne’s vocals distinctively applying the patent to the brand so this cannot be a record by anyone else.
In Motion and Rumour have drums allegedly played by Robin Johnson, but he must be controlling a Transformer with scaffolding poles for sticks, huge whacks of speaker bothering thumps. Now add third track, the very Proggy In Vantablack, and the first three tracks become a blur of orchestral keyboard punches and Rush-like bigness. That band’s Signals and Hold your Fire come to mind, but this is an entirely different approach, slap bass, keyboard washes with precise guitar fills loofering your back and cleaning your ears out like a badly timed bomb disposal operation. There are shades of Kershaw’s The Riddle in the approach but with the musicianship turned to “best” in the resolution stakes when the print can only be top of the range for these classy performers.
Not that it’s all retro, Ghost Kids uses synth duvets which segues into slow runner Phosphene, where colours run into each other but the edges are still visible. Returning to Technology Killed the Kids, that has been part of all three albums and this time in its third phase, this is where previous albums meet and connect with strong hints of America’s Native Construct in the quirk and metallic sections. Progression at its heart is abundant. It edits into Sentry and anything resembling pop music is now prostrate and slowly bleeding on the studio floor as this track is back to form in the Prog Rock stakes, albeit with the same huge drum kit.
Two Frames of Panic has a very Frost*y feel but with that nostalgic keyboard single key press that releases entire orchestral chords. These used to be played on the Fairlight CMI, whose cost could have bailed out entire countries, but apparently Adam Warne’s weapon of choice is the Korg Kronos 73, which when played with the right hands can move mountains, and that giant rock certainly gets a good kicking. There’s hints of Muse now and this probably points at a future direction.
UNO Attack is an instrumental showcase that proves what accomplished musicians this band are. Joey Frevola’s guitar weaves majestically in and around the keyboards, underpinned by Peter Episcopo’s funky bass and then the constant battering ram drums that razor anything in its path whilst those massive keyboard thrusts simply bayonet the mix.
The album could end there, but one big treat is left in the form of the beautiful Her Song is Mine and the best thing that Paddy McAloon never wrote. A charming and yearning love song that you’ll want to hear for years, in fact the song would work as the soundtrack to The End of Days with a plaintive violin that says “Well actually, it was all rather good, wasn’t it? Thanks God…”
Radio friendly, competent, and almost too good for the charts, these ten tracks, however, are exactly where they belong. Anyone out there with a bit of insider influence? Honestly, Adam Warne’s now three album concepts should be ruling the world. Fire up your poshest hi-fi (the one that goes loud and annoys the neighbours) and push play. An ’80s revival is long overdue and the combination of, maybe, ABC and Prefab Sprout cloned with keyboard=era Rush, everything Trevor Horn has ever stood for, and then measured digitally and sync’d with an atomic clock. This is a cracking record.
01. In Motion (5:35)
02. Rumour (4:33)
03. In Vantablack (14:00)
04. Ghost Kids (1:16)
05. Phosphene (5:37)
06. Technology Killed The Kids III (10:10)
07. Sentry (4:03)
08. Two Frames Of Panic (5:52)
09. UNO Attack (5:24)
10. Her Song Is Mine (5:43)
Total Time – 62:15
Adam Warne – Vocals, Keyboards
Robin Johnson – Drums, Percussion
Peter Episcopo – Bass, Vocals
Joey Frevola – Guitars
Record Label: White Star Records
Country of Origin: U.K.
Dates of Release: Digital – 19th June 2020 | CD – 21st August 2020