Image © InsideOut Music 2007
(25 September 2007) Pure Reason Revolution are a youthful British progressive rock group hoping to showcase a slightly different approach towards what we know as conventional progressive rock music. Forming in 2003 under the name The Sunset Sound, several other name changes took place throughout the band's early days until, after a meeting of musically compatible minds took place at the University of Westminster, the final line-up was complete and Pure Reason Revolution was born. Signing to Sony BMG in 2004, the band's debut album The Dark Third was eventually released in 2006. The most recent release is a two-disc (9+5) set (InsideOut Music (Germany) SPV 79332 DCD, 2007). The band drew significant acclaim for their 2007 NEARFest performance in Bethlehem, PA USA.
Progressive rock is a genre which holds complex song structures, technically adept instrumentation, sprawling concept albums littered with recurring themes and lengthy epics, as a few of its renowned and expected conventions. Whilst it being difficult for an album such as The Dark Third to escape being labeled as a progressive rock album, it is one that offers a highly refreshing listening experience to the listener. It is an album that blends together elements such as dreamy multi-part male and female vocal harmonies, swaying guitar work and warm keyboards to create an adventurous melting pot of musical ideas.
Instrumental album opener "Aeropause" instantly creates a spacey, haunting atmosphere via warm, drifting keyboards and lush Pink Floyd-esque guitar lines, that are backed by delicately paced drum work and dissonant bass, accompanying the song's hazy, smooth flow perfectly. It's a song thriving on gradual build ups, and one that excels by the impressively mixed sound. An early indication towards the importance of each instrument merging with the other, one of the band's strongest points, and the key in creating a truly immersive atmosphere which is maintained throughout the album's 55-minute duration.
The song ends with a scattering of piano notes, leading directly into "Goshen's Remains" opening with gorgeous female vocal work, warped keyboards and shuffling drums. The song holds a surging chorus where the guitar work hits that little bit harder as harmonized vocals gracefully float above the soaring riffs with ease. The production again holds a wonderfully warm feel to it, allowing the song to remain within the dream-like ambiance formed from its opening notes, and this song is an ideal showcase of the exceptional vocal abilities of Chloe Alper and Jon Courtney, whose harmonies fit inside the smooth tapestry of sound perfectly. The lyrical content holds a highly poetical and dream-like edge to it throughout the album, as the duo's soft and serene voices conjure imagery of grandeur and majesty via lines such as: "The mornings dew rolls over the planet" and "Horzions weaving, gleaming seas" in this song alone.
"The Bright Ambassadors Of Morning" is the album's centerpiece. A sprawling near 12-minute epic that merges the most innovative elements of Pure Reason Revolution's sound into one hugely impressive composition. Opening with layers of keyboards which cascade in and out of scattering drum work and haunting vocal waves, it every so slowly moves into a more solid and structured guitar line backed by echoing drums before exploding into the sublime dual vocal work that fits amongst the dreamy atmosphere wonderfully. The chorus holds a vocal melody that really sticks and breaks apart the gradually building passages at just the right times. A stand-out track without doubt, though the length of the song could be viewed by some as its downfall. Passages take time to build, to reach their real impact and so despite it being every so easy to be lulled into a blissful state whilst listening, it's also easy to lose focus and crave the song to move along with a touch more pace.
The latter half of the album presents the moving "In The Realms Of The Divine". Tinkles of keyboard and drifting guitar work capture your senses within moments, before perhaps the album's most memorable vocal performance is presented as the the pace picks up for a rousing and euphoric chorus. Subtle violin work enters for the second verse and only enhances an already musically rich song.
"He Tried To Show Them Magic" is perhaps the album's darkest effort. Eerie keyboards, powerful vocal strains, the song crashes into life after a handful of minutes in a flurry of chaotic guitar riffs and drumming, throughout a rare heavier moment from the band. A period where they let all their instrumentation loose in a no-holds-barred wall of hard-hitting sound. "Ambassadors Return" closes the album with a simply structured number, one which is carried by the two vocalists and allows previous musical themes to return in an ideal exit to the journey this album provides.
A debut album to remember, The Dark Third is a truly refreshing and constantly engaging effort from a band obviously not afraid to embrace the creativity they seem to be filled with. Innovative in their approach to song-writing, Pure Reason Revolution have blended together elements of old-school progressive rock and beach boys-esque vocal harmonies, yet have done so in such a way that their music is gifted with an exciting 21st century edge, and continually holds a fresh vibrancy to it. The warm, crystal-clear production of the album fits with its drifting and dream-like atmosphere and the album is one perfect for sunset evenings when your mind is ready to become enwrapped in the blissful world the album instills. Song structures hugely drawn-out at parts being its occasional weakness as well as strength,
this is an album reliant on the patient listener in discovering the many layers resting within, yet if you're prepared for the challenge, you will very much be rewarded.--Jim Hall in Derby, England and Russ Elliot in New York +