Here is yet another review of “The High Places.” Progression Magazine is a well known progressive music publication, they are genuine in their approach to portraying their reviews in an honest manner. Their rating system is based on a 16 as perfect score. No disagreement here.
The High Places
2012 (CD, 41:47)
Prophase Music pmcd1301
Oblivion Sun is an offspring of Happy the Man, featuring guitarist/vocalist Stanley Whitaker and keyboardist/reed player Frank Wyatt (the album was mixed by HTM Moog guru Kit Watkins). Both alums play at the top of their game, which says something as both have been dealing with cancer scares these last few years. In fact, Wyatt underwent surgery shortly after the album was recorded which, thankfully, he has recovered from successfully. David Hughes (bass/vocals) and Bill Brasso (drums/percussion) complete the quartet, bringing a true love of progressive music to their enviable roles.
The album opens with two instrumentals, “Deckard” by Wyatt and “March of the Mushroom Men” by Whitaker. Both have that classic Happy the Man sound: elegant but powerful playing, tuneful melodies with plenty of left turns, and a sheer musicality that serves the songs vs. simply emphasizing chops. The cream of this album, though, is the six-part 22-minute title track, penned by Wyatt. All the parts feature Whitaker’s strong vocals, and all the solos by Whitaker and Wyatt (both on synthesizer and acoustic piano) are exceptional. – JASON M. RUBIN
Progression Magazine issue No. 65, Spring 2013; www.progressionmagazine.com
Here is a fine, honest review of The High Places by Henri Strik of Background Magazine. I did some writing for the magazine but I thought it best to stay off of this assignment.
On The High Places their second keyboardist Bill Plummer has left the band. As a result you might expect that the music on this album sounds differently, or in any case more guitar-orientated than their first CD. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t; it depends on how you listen to the guitar and keyboard parts throughout the album, but I guess that’s a minor aspect as long as the songs are worth listening. And they surely are! The style of HTM can still be heard in the band’s compositions, but that seems logical to me. In the opening piece Deckard these influences are evident. This instrumental composition could have been taken from any of their albums. The drum patterns, the piano parts and the guitar riffs clearly tend towards the music of HTM.
On March Of The Mushroom Men, the second instrumental, the band shows to be capable of playing another type of music as well. This time the music refers to albums recorded by bands like Focus and Camel, mainly due to Whitaker’s melodic guitar parts. Sometimes his playing reminds me of Jan Akkerman’s or Andy Latimer’s playing. Whitaker proves to be a fine singer as well in Everything. This short ballad already appeared on the eponymous album recorded by another Whitaker-Wyatt project namely Pedal Giant Animals (2006). This rather short composition sounds like a track of Primary Elements (2012, see review) from his other band Six Elements that contains musical elements from early Genesis and Cat Stevens. Next track Dead Sea Squirrels is the third instrumental piece on which the guitars sound rather heavy and a bit in the vein of the riff in Crazy Horses (The Osmonds). Fortunately the keyboards assure that this song holds enough prog rock sounds to keep you focussed till the end.
The album ends with the title track. Having a playing time of 22 minutes it’s not only the longest track, but also the best one. It’s an adaptation of the old HTM piece Merlin Of The High Places from the Death’s Crown (1999) album. On this epic piece, which is divided into six chapters, they sound like a mixture of HTM and Genesis at the time of A Trick Of The Tail (1975). It’s mainly Whitaker’s voice and Wyatt’s playing on the acoustic piano, sounding like Phil Collins and Tony Banks respectively, which are responsible for this comparison. This piece also contains the best keyboard playing of the album; the synthesizer solo on the second chapter Awakening is just awesome! It makes you forget ex-HTM keyboardist Kit Watkins. After listening to this epic track I felt in a good mood and I realized that these musicians are still able to write superb compositions.
Of course Oblivion Sun aren’t HTM and The High Places isn’t an album like Crafty Hands (1978), but that doesn’t mean that the music of Oblivion Sun is less enjoyable. On the contrary! I’m inclined to say that people who cherished the music of HTM are obliged to listen to the music of Oblivion Sun! I’m certain that you won’t regret it; neither did I. The High Places contains music of a very high standard similar to the music of HTM!
Dear friends and fans of Oblivion Sun. We regret to inform you that our keyboardist; Frank Wyatt, has sustained an injury at work. He has broken his wrist, and severely cut and broken his nose. Consequently, our upcoming shows at Orion Sound Stage in Baltimore, MD. and Roxy and Dukes for the NJProghouse have been cancelled. We will keep you updated as to his recovery process and new performance dates. Thank you for your understanding, we all wish him a speedy recovery.
Oblivion Sun and the world renown NJ Proghouse are proud to announce Oblivion Sun live at Roxy and Dukes in Dunellen, NJ Saturday May 11th. Also appearing are special guests, 3rd Degree. Tickets on sale Wednesday, March 13th at www.njproghouse.com
It’s been a long time coming…the members of Oblivion Sun will appear in-studio for a live interview on The Gagliarchives on Saturday, March 23rd, 2013. They will discuss their epic new album, The High Places, plans for the road and whatever else happens to come up. In-studio appearances with Tom Gagliardi are always a hoot and this one will be no exception. Tune in at 10:00PM at http://www.gagliarchives.com/ to enjoy the madness.
Here are just a couple of kind, honest words about The High Places. More to follow.
“You know that moment when you are driving down the road with the stereo cranked and you realize you have “that” grin on your face and you’re laughing out loud? Laughing with joy ’cause you are listening to something absolutely beautiful and it is kicking your ass all over the place? Well it happened again with “The High Places”. Oblivion Sun has made a record that will sit alongside the other great music that has filled my life with great pleasure and overwhelming joy. Thanks guys.” Jim Robinson- NJProghouse, NEARfest, ProgDay
“Inventively melodic numbers that challenge the mind while engaging the ear. We are lucky to live in a time where Wyatt and Whitaker deliver fresh gifts for our ears and hearts. The new guys, Bill Brasso and Dave Hughes are a perfect fit, and the quartet really cooks.” John Wilcox, Progsheet
“Wanted to let you all know that The High Places is our new #1 CD in requests… Hope you guys are well and you kicked my ass with it.” Tom Gagliardi, The Gagliarchives
“With majestic nods to the past and visionary tones aimed towards the future, Oblivion Sun delivers a stunning masterpiece of sonic and songwriting splendor. The High Places rekindles memories of the past while providing glimpses of the future of progressive music.” Jon P. Yarger, Progressive Rock Radio, NJProghouse, NEARfest
Hey folks, links to places where one can buy the new album, The High Places, have been added. Scroll down and to the right you’ll find ‘em listed under “blogroll.” Thanks for the support. Vinyl coming soon!!
This is the first official video from Oblivion Sun! The song is called “March of the Mushroom Men” and wrote itself during my drives to and from radiation appointments three years ago. It is my personal ‘thank you’ to all friends and fans who have sent me love, prayers and support over the years! Our new album/cd is called “The High Places” on Prophase Records (available on Amazon, etc.) and features an epic 22 minute piece by my musical partner in crime for many years, Frank Wyatt (ever since the ‘ol Happy the Man days!) and it’s the title track (our “Supper’s Ready”!) It also features a wonderful kick-ass rhythm section with David Hughes on bass and vocals and Bill Brasso on drums. Hope you like our first video offering and there’s more coming! Much love to my wife LeeAnne for her love and support all these years and for embracing what I/we love to do.