Lifesigns is "...an English progressive rock band from the heart of rural England..." Simple, allusive, teasing, and dead-on all at once. Now I am compelled to have at least a little listen, just to satisfy my curiosity. Lifesigns stakes out a section of the prog garden few could survive in--accolades well deserved.
The first song I grace my ears with from the buffet this week is called "At the End of the World." A beautiful opening; very serene...the understated drums flow effortlessly through the guitar and keyboards while backing up the vocals like an old friend. I pick up scents of Marillion and a touch of latter-times Genesis,even perhaps a top note of The Moody Blues. Lifesigns has a full sound that surrounds the listener while allowing the peanut butter smooth vocals to drape over you.
Selection number two is called "Lighthouse." Visually, the song opens at dawn at the end of a storm...you can feel the air stirring as the tension breaks and the mood shifts to an upbeat tempo. The vocals cut through and suddenly the mood and tempo swing again. I need to remind myself more than once that Lifesigns is not eight musicians. Lifesigns has a sound that is distinct and sharp, much like the sun reflecting off a mirror. The neo-progressive movement is alive and well, continuing to innovate and hammer the inner lining of every eager listener's head. There are definite aromas of Spock's Beard and IQ wafting through what truly is superb prog.
Liner Notes...Lifesigns has a very interesting lineup... current members are John Young keyboards and vocals, Jon Poole bass and vocals, Frosty Beedle drums and percussion, and Niko Tsonev guitars and vocals. Lifesigns also credits Steve Rispin for engineering and production and Nicky Beggs for recording sessions on bass, chapman stick, and vocals. The list of guest musicians includes Steve Hackett and Jakko Jakszyk on guitar, and Thijs Van Leer on flutes. OK; that makes for a crowded recording studio--and it explains without question the quality of the grooves pressed into the vinyl.
Moving back to the prog buffet, selection number three is a tune called "Fridge Full of Stars." Lifesigns seems to enjoy leading into a piece of music ominously, only to pull the ol' "bait 'n' switch" with music and lyrics that dance through your head like so many focused ballerinas. This piece has a lot going on; deep vocals, a hard driving beat, time, tempo, and mood swings that swirl around like smoke on the horizon in a windstorm, and some impressive flute...thank you Thijs Van Leer; flute has not been this cool since Chris Wood in his Traffic days.
The clip posted below is called "Telephone." This is a good piece with which to familiarize yourself with Lifesigns...everything fits like a well worn leather jacket. The guitars flow through the drums which highlight the vocals, and the vocals wend their way through the keyboards delicately enough to not leave permanent marks. Spend the next nine minutes plus on a long distance call that will soothe and satisfy...learn more about Lifesigns at facebook.com/signslife.
Fortunately summer has not loosed her grasp on the season clock just yet...there is still daylight past 7:30, shorts are still the wardrobe of choice, and a glass of chablis hits the spot while listening to great prog. Yes, life is good. This search for all things prog has led me to many different facets of progressive music, and Lifesigns has brought the focus to yet another "uncrowded" section of the prog garden. The ability to produce a sound so full while seeming to leave so much space for expansion is a rare thing. I recommend sitting down in a dimly lit room and enjoying the sounds emitting from the headphones purposefully.
Now the Concert Closet moves on, chasing a dream further down the galaxy...until next week...