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Glass Hammer - Chronometree CD Cover
Image © 2000 Sound Resources 

(29 May 2000) The latest album from progressive rock band Glass Hammer is entitled Chronometree (Arion Records (USA) SR-9000, 2000); it should delight fans of Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer as well as other bands of that genre. A concept album like the group's former releases—Journey of the Dunaden, Perelandra and On To Evermore—the album is comprised of one multi-part epic yet it has two smaller pieces embedded within it. There are actually two numbering sequences for the album's tracks which, with a little bit of studying, can be easily interpreted. The two major parts of "All In Good Time" consist of album tracks "a" through "j." The fifth and six tracks of the album, "A Perfect Carosel" and "Chronos Deliverer," are the middle songs. A short instrumental bonus track is also included at the end of the album.

The album was written and recorded by Fred Schendel (Hammond organ, Mellotron, mini-Moog, keyboards, acoustic, electric and slide guitar, autoharp, drums and backing vocals) and Steve Babb (bass guitar, keyboards, Mellotron, synths and backing vocals). To round out the lineup for the album, Fred and Steve brought in Brad Marler (lead vocals and writer of "Perfect Carosel"), Walter Moore (drums, guitars), Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon; also Lana Lane's latest album (review)) and Terry Clouse (additional guitar work). This is the first Glass Hammer album to be produced without explicit female vocal parts; there is, however, a choir passage with guest performances Susie Warren, Jamie Watkins and Sarah Snyder on "Chronos Deliverer." Enthusiasts will be interested to know that Glass Hammer also released a limited edition album of rare live performances and remixes from their work prior to On To Evermore entitled Live and Revived (Arion Records (USA) SR-5710, 1997).

The storyline of Chronometree revolves around Tom, a progressive rock fan from the 1970s who heard voices from outer space within the music he listened to. The aliens instructed him in the science of Chronometree. Tom captured the fundamentals in a series of drawings and esoteric manuscripts ultimately revealing directions to construct a time machine. A series of graphics from the project are available at Glass Hammer's website.

"All In Good Time" is primarily an instrumental number, laced with layers of keyboards drawing a strong resemblence to ELP's Tarkus in many places. Arrangements blend Glass Hammer's style from former albums with this very 1970s Keith Emerson-style keyboard work and the metal edged guitar work of Arjen Lucassen. The album requires several devoted listens to appreciate the details of the music and the instrumental themes evident within it. It is a very well written, performed and recorded album, and will appeal to symphonic and orchestral progressive rock enthusiasts.

"A Perfect Carosel" and "Chronos Deliverer" contrast the balance of the album both in their style and delivery. "A Perfect Carosel" is an acoustic guitar- and light synthesizer-based ballad. Wakeman-style keyboard excursions contribute to Yes similarities within the track and compliment the lyrical theme of the tune. A highlight of the album is "Chronos Deliverer," a very Yes-like track with soaring electric guitars and keyboard parts similar to Howe and Wakeman respectively. We especially enjoyed the vocal parts and the supporting orchestral keyboards. The later tracks on the album include both Wakeman- and Emerson-style keyboard passages.

The first album to emerge from the band since 1998's On To Evermore, Glass Hammer's Chronometree effectively blends elements of their earlier styles with those of classic ELP and Yes. The group's website is a resource for further information; there you can find further reviews, soundbites and ordering information. Chronometree is also available from good online and mail order progressive rock retailers including CD Services (Dundee, Scotland) and ZNR (Louisville, KY USA). The band's earlier albums are available at amazon.com. You can order Journey Of The Dunadan here, Perelandra here and On To Evermore here. A progressive album worth extensive exploration and certainly a long distance journey, this latest Glass Hammer release is a must listen!

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