Book of the Dead
Review by Josh Turner
With an Egyptian on the cover, you'd expect something from The Bangles. However, this is much more progressive in nature. The music takes us back one decade further than "Walk Like An Egyptian" to the days when rock and classical music frequently frolicked with one another. The book is a dead ringer for classic Genesis gems like "Foxtrot" and "Selling England by the Pound". If you think this too brash and you're quick to turn your nose up at such a declaration, I dare you to check out the album. I doubt you'll disregard it as a new landmark in the genre.
This isn't some shoddy undertaking that's slapped together with loose binding. The concept seems solid, but more importantly, it is played by some serious and well-known talent. Allan Holdsworth provides the guitars and as usual, they're staggering. Ryo Okumoto participates with piano and moog. He's the earth, wind, and the fire, giving the music a down-home and otherworldly feeling both at the same time. The late great Shaun Guerin gives us vocals strangely similar to Peter Gabriel. Last and less known, but certainly not the least, Ken Jaquess is the brains behind all of its brawn. There is little flair in the music, but what you will find gets more enchanting with every listen. These musicians make sure that even the tiniest note makes a long-lasting impression. In addition to writing, arranging, and producing the music, Ken plays multiple instruments, which include bass, keyboards, and a 10 string acoustic. Ken's bass playing convincingly doubles Dave Meros.
While Ken and Shaun seems to be doing spot-on impressions, Ryo's playing is much different than what we've come to expect from him. It's certainly more proggy than his solo effort "Coming Through", but it doesn't sound like anything he's done in the past. While the music keeps to the tradition of classic Genesis, it has the sense and wit of Spock's Beard. Not to mention, there are a few moments, though rare, that have a touch of the Flower King's magic. I reference the all-time greats, because there is something special about this release. There are elements that are very familiar to us, but it's unique in how he fuses it all together. It is never overdone and nowhere near overcomplicated. Ken never seems to add an extraneous instrumentation just for the sake of it. Yet, the music still comes off slightly convoluted. Even so, it blends well once it comes together. Many of our favorite flavors are found in this mix. It goes down smooth and once inside it is like a burst of thirst-quenching pleasure.