Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Coalition

Thanks for coming back fellow progheads!  Page twelve has been turned on the 2016 calendar as the final grains of sand drop through the neck of the hourglass...quite a year indeed.  As the search for all things prog sets out on the last odyssey of 2016, I am reminded not only of the great artists and musicians that have passed through the veil, but also the up and coming bands that continue to keep the prog garden flourishing, thriving, and bringing bountiful  harvests to the prog faithful season after season.

With that thought in mind, I decided to load up the Concert Closet for my final journey this year, setting the GPS for England and a relaxing interlude with Coalition.  Like most prog bands discovered here in the prog garden, the story behind the story of Coalition will leave as much of an impression as the music itself...so into the tale we plunge...



Many of my loyal followers will remember my review of Inner Road back in July 2014, a prog band that "...rose from the ashes of Coalition."  Fortunately the fire was not fatal and the embers continued to smolder, because Coalition has risen once again and released a new LP, "Bridge Across Time" in October.  So let us cozy up to the buffet and sate our prog appetites...

Coalition refers to themselves as an "...international symphonic prog rock band."  Coalition is also but one plot in the prog garden tended by Steve Gresswell;  The Inner Road is another along with some very strong solo work.  However my focus this week is "Bridge Across Time," so let us have a seat in the Concert Closet, apply the headphones, and have a listen...

The first offering from the album is an upbeat tune called "Across the Sea."  Coalition uses bright colors to fill the canvas as the piece opens with the serenity of high tide gently caressing the shore. Guitars and percussion quickly take the baton and fill your auditory canals with positive energy. Keyboards break on through, riding the drums as they cascade across the disc.  There are top notes of Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate and (ironically) Transatlantic wafting through the air.  I am detecting aromatics of Pandora as well.  Coalition hits you straight on with a positive vibe that rides the top of this song all the way.

Selection number two as we carve our way through this download is "Land of Dreams."  The song opens with a subdued flourish--not bursting with the energy of "Across the Sea" but not hushed or gloomy either.  Coalition may have grays and dark hues in the paint box, but they fuse them with pastels and brighter shades to enhance the mood on either side of the pendulum.  There are top notes of The Strawbs and It's A Beautiful Day coming through, and I detect aromatics of Tirian Flame permeating the Concert Closet on this cut.  Coalition leans on synthesizers to build that symphonic sound, while the drums and guitar push everything to the edge.  The vocals lay on top like a narrative, pointing out to the observer the scene taking place below...serene and numinous...

Liner Notes...Coalition--of course--the brainchild of the aforementioned Steve Gresswell, who plays keyboards, drums, and bass.  Blake Carpenter is lyricist and lead vocalist and Colin Tench plays guitars.  An earlier line-up included Phil Braithwaite and Paul Bulger, both of whom appear on the 2012 release, "In Search of Forever."  Members of the band trace their roots to Sweden, the UK, and the United States, hence the international descriptor.

Coalition travels the same basic path in the prog garden as The Inner Road, albeit with a slight tangent to the trajectory.  Steve pays homage to the full sound of prog in all he does, and Coalition is no different.  The songs burst with energy, run through time and tempo changes, and fill your auditory canals with robust sound.  Coalition doesn't explode through your speakers--but they don't crawl with barely a pulse either.  The music is high carb with an emphasis on the stuff that sparks your musical taste buds--but no artificial sweeteners here; just the good ol' natural stuff...

My final selection from this calorie laden buffet is, "Valley of Shadows."  Once again the trademark thrust that hits your cranium like a Tabasco shooter oozes through the headphones then tapers back; much like waves crashing the jetty as a storm brews.  There is a Marillion vibe riding the under current, and a taste of Fire on Dawson hits the back of the throat.  Coalition is not as ornate as, say, most Italian prog bands, but they have read the playbook.  Learn more about Coalition and purchase their music at Coalition Bandcamp.  Their earlier release "In Search of Forever" along with "Bridge Across Time" can be found, purchased, and downloaded here.  Coalition also has a Facebook page at Coalition FB and can be followed on Twitter @CoalitionRocks.  Steve, Blake, and Colin each have their own individual Facebook pages so you can learn more about every member of the band.  Please expand your library as well as your knowledge by making a purchase!

The clip below is designed to whet your prog appetite and stimulate the neurons in your brain that cause intense cravings.  This is a teaser of sorts for the "Bridge Across Time" album.  Just a snippet of each cut to give you an idea of what Coalition is about.  Listen as the keyboards stream across the top like spun sugar, raining down on a solid base of guitars and drums...coming together like the perfect trifle dessert...



Well fellow progheads, we have just about concluded our journey through 2016--and what an experience it has been!  The search for all things prog has crossed oceans and continents while traveling through many countries.  It has been an eye opening, ear pleasing, mind expanding expedition, as well as an extensive walk through miles of the prog garden.  Coalition is unique in their own right, as are most bands of the progressive rock genre, mainly because their music takes on the traits of the artists.  There are no steadfast rules or formulae to follow; prog music simply carves its own path.

I am looking forward to what 2017 holds for the prog garden as Father Time begins to draw the curtain on 2016.  The search for all things prog is alive and well, and I thank you for staying the course...until next time... 

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