View Full Version : NEW NAMES - protos

Andrew Roussak
Dec-18-2007, 22:54
Dear community,

herewith I want to present you some new names of the musicians and composers from around the globe, deserving on my opinion more exposure and recognition . These all are the names from my friends' list on MySpace – I truly enjoy their music and want to share it with you.

This week, my choice is PROTOS (http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=140830875) – an instrumental trio from UK, with their new release The Noble Pauper's Grave (http://cdbaby.com/cd/protos3).


Protos were a college rock band formed in the late 1970s by keyboard player Rory Ridley-Duff and guitarist Stephen Ascombe. By the early 1980s, Iain Carnegie and Nigel Rippon had joined the band. Their first album, One Day A New Horizon, became international recognition much later, and The Noble Pauper's Grave is, in fact, a come-back after 25 years of silence.

I was really impressed by the sample of the piece called Travels, which PROTOS uploaded to their profile on MySpace, and so I have bought the CD from their distributor Cdbaby.com. The first pleasant surprise for me was the artwork. The CD includes 8-pages booklet , which is actually a luxury for an independent artist, and this booklet is good designed and very informative.

The Noble Pauper's Grave is a conceptual instrumental album , constructed in a good old prog rock tradition – the instrumental pieces interchange with narratives. This conception has reminded me at once of the Journey To The Centre Of The Earth ( Rick Wakeman ). The album tells the story of a man born to privilege who rejects his upbringing. Drawn to the plight of the poor, he helps to organise and rally support for their cause whilst finding love amongst them.

The album opens with Born a Bit Blue, an upbeat blues number depicting the energy of youth. This is followed by Travels, a lilting melodic number in 5/4 time that portrays the noble sailing away to a new life. Next comes The Rally, one of two tracks that exceed 10-minutes in length. This powerful rock track intersperses a march with reflective and melancholic passages. The Final Dawn is a quiet tuneful reprise from danger, communicated through a subtle arrangement for guitar, saxophone, flute, acoustic bass, piano and strings. The fifth track, Outcry, has a dark and moody opening before breaking out into another powerful rock track. The central section depicts a dance that leads to an erotically charged love scene. A finale closes the track, capturing the noble's emotional turmoil as his lover departs. Aftermath, another upbeat rock number, captures the mood of the noble as he faces the retribution of his followers. Departures closes the album with a beautiful portrayal of the noble's funeral and eventual ascent into folk lore.

Musically, this very melodic work reminds me, first and foremost, of the best solo albums of Rick Wakeman, and when I hear the guitar lines played by Stephen Ascombe, I think of Camel as well. Rory Ridley-Duff has full command of his synths and samples – music of PROTOS never works boring, as Rory finds the exactly appropriate sound for each phrase. My personal favourite on this CD is the second instrumental track ( Travels ) , a 5/4 piece with a wonderful melody and interesting harmonic changes in the middle part. The harmonies of the sampled strings are underlined with an electric cello played by Nigel Rippon. Actually , the album has not a single piece, which could be seen as a filler – each track has its own character and its own highlights. To summarise my impressions of the Noble Pauper's Grave shortly – it is a very whole, completed and strong compositorial work.

I would be very interested to see the visual or choreographic version of the album – it would very well suit a ballett, for example. The only lack of this work ( if it could be only regarded as a lack ), on my opinion, are the programmed drums. They are excellently programmed and sound pretty authentic , no question about that, but the presence of a real studio musician ( with a touch of a human imperfectness ) could make a masterpiece of this production.

The general sound of the production is very good up to excellent, as far as I can judge - it sounds the same great on each of three audio systems I have. The recording is full of sound, and still works transparent.

My mark for this album – "1" in a German School system, or 6 stars from 6 possible!