US group go back to the fu­ture, prog-style.

Prog - - Intro - DAVID WEST

Chronomo­naut may be the per­fect an­ti­dote to all those weighty, po-faced con­cept al­bums that take them­selves oh so very se­ri­ously. The pro­tag­o­nist of the story be­hind the mu­sic is Tom, the ob­sessed prog fan first in­tro­duced on Glass Ham­mer’s 2000 al­bum Chronome­tree. He re­turns here, as ut­terly de­voted to prog rock as ever, but dis­il­lu­sioned that his own band The Elf King haven’t re­ceived the rap­tur­ous ac­claim he be­lieves



they so richly de­serve. So, Tom de­cides to travel back in time to the 1970s, con­vinced that he will fi­nally find suc­cess in the golden era of pro­gres­sive rock.

The play­ful tone of Chronomo­naut is a great con­trast to Glass Ham­mer’s last re­lease, the much darker Valkyrie from 2016, which was all about the hor­rors of war. The lighter mood hasn’t led to any dulling of the group’s com­po­si­tional skills, though. As much as it is a se­quel to Chronome­tree, the al­bum feels like it could be a cheery coun­ter­point to Tim Bow­ness’ Lost In The Ghost Light, about an age­ing rocker re­flect­ing on glo­ries long past.

If there’s one com­mon thread in prog fo­rums, it’s a hark­ing back to the days when prog bands ruled the air­waves and packed are­nas, so it’s all too easy to re­late to Tom’s sense that he lives in the wrong decade and is a man out of time. The al­bum man­ages to sound both ac­ces­si­ble and yet firmly rooted in pro­gres­sive rock. Twi­light Of The Godz has a touch of Floyd’s mood­i­ness and a bluesy, Gil­mour-es­que gui­tar solo, but then there are catchy pop hooks in A Hole In The Sky.

Lead vo­cals are shared be­tween bas­sist Steve Babb, Susie Bog­danow­icz, Dis­ci­pline’s Matthew Par­menter and Pat­ton Locke, which helps bring the dif­fer­ent voices in the story to life. Bog­danow­icz in par­tic­u­lar shines in 1980 Some­thing and the at­mo­spheric bal­lad Melan­choly Hol­i­day.

The pro­duc­tion and ar­range­ments are both im­pres­sive. Ev­ery­thing is clean and clear in the mix but there’s still plenty of sub­stance to the sound, and the pres­ence of a brass sec­tion on Roll For Ini­tia­tive and Blind­ing Light enriches their sonic pal­ettes. The lat­ter has a hint of soul and 60s flower power pop thanks to the brass sec­tion and the in­fec­tious­ness of the cho­rus melody, but then that’s bal­anced by the mar­vel­lous and very prog Mel­lotron solo.

There’s a lot of mu­sic to di­gest here and as much as Chronomo­naut pokes a lit­tle fun at the way prog fans often cling to the past, this is an al­bum that will re­ward re­peated lis­tens long into the fu­ture.

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