Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Seconds Before Landing "Cosmonaut"

Happy New Year fellow progheads!  The Closet Concert Arena has finally made its 2020 debut. Apologies for the delay as the Concert Closet changed zip codes; already the prog garden is at flood stage with new, amazing, and absolutely stunning music. 

Since this is my first post of the new year I wanted it to be something special.  Recently I've been in touch with John Crispino, the brains and insightful mind behind the sounds of Seconds Before Landing.  Whenever John has a new album out I am filled with the same excitement a child has on Christmas morning; I know it will be a unique collection of music that John has immersed himself in from start to finish.  On a par with Scarlet INside, Seconds Before Landing is music that I love to get lost in knowing the journey I am about to undertake will be not only like no other I've taken before, it will differ slightly each time I travel the path.  So I bring you "Cosmonaut," the latest independent release from Seconds Before Landing.

This is a concept album...if you're familiar with Seconds Before Landing and John Crispino at all this comes as no surprise.  John is a master at creating a story, painting a most vivid picture with music and song...breathing life into what would otherwise be a two dimensional illustration.  This the tale of Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov...and so we begin...

The opening "Weightless" bleeds right into "Life."  The technical sounds of an engineering room give way to a softer mood...a gentler tone.  Female vocals/spoken words spill through the headphones as a young wife tells her husband she has given him a son...and the saga begins.  You are then totally engrossed in the soft sounds of life, much like the opening of the Yes classic "Close to the Edge."  The guitar work is mesmerizing; close your eyes and be swept away on a journey through time and space... Seconds Before Landing pulls you in as few others can.

Moving along I discover more inspirational visions poring forth from the headphones; "My Best Friend" and "March Into Klushino."  John truly has a gift when composing an album; his ability to delve so deep into the story he's telling makes you feel as though you're right there with him.  As these two pieces give the back story to the relationship of Yuri and his brother Boris, what come through the headphones is so much more than music--the story truly is coming to life...

Liner Notes...Although Seconds Before Landing has many hands and faces behind the microphone, the band truly begins and ends with John Crispino.  He is so much more than simply the man behind the music and his music is so much more than simply notes played  together.  There are a few members of the prog garden I categorize as artist first and then musician; John is a strong representative of that select group.

Despite taking on the role of composer and vocalist, playing drums and synthesizers, John would be the first to say his work would not be nearly as good without the contributions of others.  He has assembled an impressive group; two-time Grammy winner and Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson mastered the album.  Musicians include Eric Maldonado, Steve Schuffert, and Rick Witkowski on guitars; J.D. Garrison and Guy Bar Tor on bass; Jamie Peck on piano and sax; and Vanessa Campagna does all the female vocals.  But they aren't the life source of Seconds Before Landing--John Crispino is, and it's his vision being realized as the sound pours through your headphones.
It is difficult to do a concept album such as this justice by hopping around and reviewing intermittent songs, yet I find myself doing exactly that.  The album moves in a timeline and I am making but a humble attempt to present that to you.  This next song, "One Minute to Launch," reminds me of Pink Floyd in their "Atomic Heart Mother" and "Meddle" days...interludes that connect the songs to each other, giving the canvas a third dimension which allows the listener to ride along on an incredible journey.

The final song to grace the headphones this evening is "Oh How I Miss You."  Vanessa is stunning as she gives the perspective of Komarov's  grieving widow.  Her voice pierces the membrane in your eardrum and flows directly to your heart...you can almost see her sitting in a chair wearing one of Vladimir's favorite shirts, staring into the void that took the love of her life.

If you haven't already, you can follow Seconds Before Landing at Seconds Before Landing and also on Facebook and Twitter @SBLOfficial.  You can purchase the album at SBL Bandcamp

I offer you but a teaser this week...one minute plus that sets the tone for what you will find when you make the purchase.  The air is solemn and dark...the mood foreboding.  Modern day prog has a classic storyteller you will want to hear again and again. 


I put Seconds Before Landing in a category with modern day prog artists Scarlet INsideDeep Energy Orchestra, and even Kaprekar's Constant and Dreadnaught.  Not because they share similarities in sound, tempo, or mood--but because they choose to stand alone.  Direct comparisons are difficult despite the fact that the musicians have been in several bands prior to joining this latest group.  Indeed every song, every lyric, even every note is unique unto itself.  John's ability to leave all of his previous musical accomplishment at the door prior to entering the studio and create something solely for itself to stand alone among the masses is truly remarkable.

I hope the wait was worth it fellow progheads!  Seconds Before Landing can be an acquired taste, but well worth the investment.  With so much more on the horizon I feel a sense of urgency to continue the journey...so the search for all things prog continues...until next time...