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Image © Touchstone 2009
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artwork and photo: Adam Hodgson
Image © Touchstone 2007
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Kim "Elkie" Seviour (lead vocals)
photo © Elliot Haughan 2009
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Image © Touchstone 2007
(30 December 2009) Touchstone are a five-piece UK rock band with progressive rock, melodic rock, and alternative influences. The band was formed in 2003 by Rob Cottingham (keyboards, vocals) and Adam Hodgson (guitars). Liz Clayden (vocals) left the band sometime after after the band's debut EP. The current lineup was completed with the joining of Paul Moorghen (bass) January 2006, Al Melville (drums) in January 2007 and Kim Seviour (vocals) in April 2007. Kim's confidence and role has grown significantly since her live performance at the Summer's End Festival in 2007 and the band's full length album Discordant Dreams.
The first Touchstone studio EP, Mad Hatters (Heavy Right Foot (UK) HRF005CD, 2006) was recorded at Outhouse Studios in Reading with John Mitchell (Kino, It Bites, Arena, Wetton & Downes) mixing, and received rave reviews. Their first full length album Discordant Dreams (Heavy Right Foot (UK) HRF006CD, 2007) is the first with the current lineup and while Kim Savoir contributes, her part is relatively small. Wintercoast (Heavy Right Foot (UK) HRF007CD, 2009), a collection of twelve more thoroughly produced progressive numbers and, in the growing UK trend, is much more thoroughly graced with female vocal work. The thirteenth track is an edit of the epic "Zinomorph" that appears earllier in the running order.
In early in 2008, Discordant Dreams was nominated for Best Album award in the prestigious UK Classic Rock Society Best Of The Year Awards for 2007, the band were even more delighted to win the very highly-regarded Best New Band award. Not long after, Touchstone also won Best New Progressive Rock Indie Artist in the USA Progressive Hall of Fame 2008 awards. Touchstone's philosophy is simple and remains to seek to find a quintessential balance between melody and rock and to find a sound which not only echoes the past, but is contemporary and forward-thinking.
Wintercoast is, like its predecessor, mixed by both John Mitchell of It Bites, Frost*, Arena and Tim Turan who has worked with Motorhead, and Marilyn Manson, as well as Frost*. Opening the album with Jeremy Iron's distinctive voice on "Prelude" draws the listener like a ship to a siren into the album. The title track follows and launches a vast journey that veers from the sublime to the grandiose, the subtle to dramatic, in an ever-shifting, seamless voyage of often spectacular music.
The production throughout is excellent. Kim's soothing vocals blend smoothly with Rob's creating an irresistible counterbalance in the process. Adam Hodgson's driving power chords and dramatic breaks add the drama. Meanwhile Paul Moorghen's bass intrigues and entices locking in firmly with the impressive drums of Al Melville. This is a band brimming with ideas and a collective creativity, and a desire to deliver music of the highest quality. That belief radiates from every well conceived note.
With growth since Discordant Dreams, there is simply no space for anything but the best on Wintercoast. There are so many ideas flowing from them. Touchstone describe their sound as being, "like prog but with a real bite," and that is precisely what they deliver here by the shovel load. The combination of Kim and Rob is something that was clearly meant to be with both complimenting each other perfectly. The huge opening that is the title track comes complete with Adam's soaring guitar break, perfect harmonizing, and faultless production. It is a spectacular entry in every conceivable sense of the word.
"Strange Days" opens out into driving power chords and trademark harmonies. Shades of light and dark, power and subtlety melt together with seamless ease. "Voices" has a memorable keyboard intro from Rob Cottingham before the soothing voice of Kim Seviour adds that Touchstone counterbalance. As if to underline all that has gone before, "Joker In The Pack" sweeps its way through a whole host of textures whilst magically and effortlessly switching between them.
"Original Sin" confirms Kimís growing confidence in her ability to captivate the listener and do justice to the well written lyrics. Rob never overlays the effects with the result being a dovetailing of elements into a perfect circle. Quite simply there is enough thought provoking sequences to render speech redundant throughout the playing of this album.
Kim takes centre stage for the delicate "Solace," while Adam launches into "Zinomorph" with pulsing guitar sitting on top of a window throbbing bass line from Paul Moorghen. Kim again shows her versatility as the track builds in intensity.
The wise lyrics of "Line In The Sand" arrive amid more excellent scorching guitar from Adam whose abrasive chords sits in balance with Rob's subtle keys. It's powerful and with the line, "itís not what it's all about," they leave you deeply locked in thought. The two-part "Witness" highlights the creative ambition, vision, and the ability to produce it, that lives within this band. As it moves towards to its finale it confirms all of the above superlatives with an ending of undeniable and now typical quality.
The Discordant Dreams album set the scene and now Wintercoast has now fulfilled the dream with a huge album that is everything those riding on the Touchstone train hoped it would be. See Touchstone at
the Classic Rock Society's Winter's End Progressive Rock Festival in Goucester, England in March 2010.--Jeff Perkins in Northern France and Russ Elliot in New York