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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ROBIN BANKS & STEVE SMITH: Stealing Time (2017)

“This is a huge E-rock music made with the pure essences of this English style which knows so much how to bring constantly the music towards other levels”

1 Space & Time 8:48 2 Lost in 1969 10:11 3 Time Machine 7:18 4 Alternating Timeflow 12:00 5 Transmutation 11:24 6 The Morning After 8:26 7 Rock of Ages 8:59 Groove | GR-235

(CD/DDL 68:07) (V.F.) (England School E-Rock)

Here is an album of the typically England School EM. STEALING TIME is the fruit of a meeting between two musicians who were in a bad patch. Robin Banks is a pianist of classical formation who wrote music for TV and commercial jingles for radio, besides having played for diverse rock bands. Steve Smith was among one of these bands. Disillusioned by the industry of music and affected by Ménière's Disease, he abandons his musical ambitions. Steve Smith is a character relatively known in the milieu. He is half of Volt and a member of the famous Tylas Cyndrome trio. Suffering from a deep depression, he considers that working on a new project could help him struggle it. He succeeds to make his old friend changed his mind who accepts to visit him in his studio. In spite of their musical divergent points of view and in the way of writing it, the duo has persisted and signs a little jewel where the differences turned into perfect symbioses.

A ballet of shooting stars and of percussive effects introduce the awakening of Stealing Time. A piano lays down a short evasive melody throughout a veil of sound effects and two minutes later, Space & Time takes the guides of a good electronic rock. The structure of rhythm is weaved in a formula that changes skins between its lively approach, where the strummed melody becomes as lively as this stream of sequences. Sequences that tumble swiftly in Poland mode, a less livened up vision, and where the effects dance with the percussions and the riffs nevertheless starved for the next phase. And then the rhythm starts again! The melody of the piano is taken back by a creative synth and its superb solos which coo within layers of mumbling voices. With its structure of want- don't want, Space & Time opens the way to a wonderful album built around some very beautiful melodic phases and where the rhythms are born and dying in some harmonious pearls or still in very good atmospherical passages. The musical adventure of develops with rippling layers which decorate the atmospheric setting of Lost in 1969, a title of lost ambient elements that the duet found again in the corridors of time. We hear felted dialogues by an effect of interstellar distance here while that 70 seconds farther, a first pulsating movement opens an ambient rhythm. Each pulsation amplifies the presence of the intergalactic noises. The synths throw waves of charms and harmonious solos which sing among the murmured hummings of an astral choir. These quiet chants live in harmony with a rhythmic progression which increases serenely its intensity to eventually implodes after the point of 7:30 minutes. Heavy, slow and decorated by pretty good layers of old organ, this tempo always bears the acrobatic chants of the synths which sound like two philosophers dreaming about ancient times and where they could possibly modify the course of events. Intergalactic dusts welcome a distant voice which explains how to build a time machine. And after the tick-tock of uses, Time Machine proposes a rhythm which skips slowly. This mid-tempo ornamented by a flotilla of motionless sequences is revamped by a good circular bass line. The percussions are sober and follow a pace divided quite often by phases of ambiences but especially of harmonies which catch immediately our attention. Reflections of sequences dance with the bass line whereas the synth adopts the rotatory motion of the bass. The phases of harmonies are devastating to every music lover. They circulate by a beautiful piano and its astral notes as well as a guitar with very David Gilmour solos. Besides the effects of voices, of narration smothered by a long distance and of universal tick-tock, the violins lines hatch the movement with effects of staccato. This is a great track that has landed in my iPod, section best titles of 2017!

We fall in the phase of the big electronic hard rock of STEALING TIME and its furious rhythms which are interrupted by ethereal passages and where the melodies live on their charms to make the strings of our soul vibrate. Alternating Timeflow develops with an ambiospherical vision. The sequences, perfumed slightly of Richard Pinhas' attractions in his period East/West, swirl in the background. They swirl in a rippling mist where are muttering guitar riffs. Riffs and solos shout in an electronic setting which gets enriched by its thicker mists, by lunar chords and by orchestrations. The pot bubbles with these elements while a tear of cello captures the intensity by inviting a piano to play a short melody. A good phase of English electronic rock clubbed by good percussions follows and the layers of voices are powerless in front of the guitar solos' domination which change skins for delicious synth solos. The piano phase comes back to charm our senses. The rhythm comes back either to shake them! This structure of want-don't want also shapes the poly-phased approach of Transmutation which invites an organ to oversize this musical depth already very rich of an album that breathes of its permutations surprisingly and splendidly coherent. Slower, The Morning After lays down some good melodious lines with an exchange between a romantic piano and a synth which likes to bring some modifications to the tenderness of the piano. It's like a duel between Richard Clayderman and Paul Nagle. Rock of Ages is a big rock where the synths shout in the fury of the percussions which are hit with drive. Guitar riffs roars endlessly and follow the keen kicks of this big heavy and lively electronic rock. The piano always remains dominated by this electronic envelope and in front of these synths which have this possibility of bringing the melodious lines in luxuriant gardens of colorful tones. It's possibly the most homogeneous structure of an album which flirts constantly with the universes of Pink Floyd, Pyramaxx, Andy Pickford and Wavestar. STEALING TIME!? It's English electronic rock at its best!

Sylvain Lupari (February 20th, 2018) ****½*

Available at Groove nl

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