"It’s all in the name….. !!" - N’Monix, the latest album released by Nick Magnus 28th April 2014 reviewed by Frank Rogers.
For this album "n’monix”, not only does this showcase Nick’s
own immense talent, but also features some seriously talented guest musicians.
Firstly, needing no introduction the ex Genesis craftsman that is STEVE HACKETT,
and from Steve’s own band ROB TOWNSEND, and guest vocal’s from PETE
HICKS, TIM BOWNESS, KATE FABER, TONY PATTERSON; lead singer with re-Genesis,
ANDY NEVE and JAMES REEVES and immensely talented lyricist DICK FOSTER.
I had seen some of the build up to this album via Facebook, and so I was really looking forward to its release date. The first time I listened to the album, to be honest I wasn’t really making sense of it, this was going to be a grower. I listened several times, and each time it grew on me. Now, many, many listens later, I just think it’s just pure genius.
Musically, there is so much going on, and the lyrics likewise. For myself, I’m only recently acquainted with Nick’s solo work, so I didnt really have any preconceived ideas, my main knowledge of Nick was through his keyboard work with Steve Hackett.
From the start, the opening track ‘Time’ kicks in, this is a real power house, and with vocals from Tony Patterson this is an excellent opener to the album, and probably my favourite . The next track, Memory, is an extreme opposite, and possibly something I would expect to hear in a ballet, and whilst that admittedly is not my forte, this track is vocally really powerful, lead heavily by the stunning soprano vocals from Kate Faber. It’s at this point, you start to think about the whole meaning of the album. A lot of the references in the album relate to the close connection between of how time creates memory, and that eventually your time will end, and that time will end all.
This album certainly has messages that are close to heart. And with this in
mind, the track ‘memory’, fits nicely into place.
As well as its powerful messages, there is also a fun element in ‘guess the mnemonic?’ in the upcoming tracks.
Kombat kid, is the next track on the album, and this track is one that first time I heard it, I really liked. Musically, there are so many talented and technical combinations, mixing modern and older. All hinged around a fictional little boy ‘Richard of York’ of the age of 4, who is addicted to video games. There is a definite early Genesis/ Gabriel feel to the end of this track.
And now comes the real question mark, Why do old people in Texas eat spiders? Headcase, is track 4. Again all merged around a Mnemonic, this track features the very well fitting vocals of Nick Magnus himself.
The next track, also has a mnemonic hidden within it. Eminent Victiorians, has a real cheeky and cheerful start to it, but also is a bit of a history lesson, a bit of a celebration of the progress our country has come through, but towards the end the track also reflects on what price had to be paid for this, “The urchins are searching for food on the tips, but that’s not the question on anyone’s lips” this reference seems to be at the children who used to make a lot of these successes possible, and who were used in what could be described almost as a form of slavery but that’s not the question on anyone’s lips. The vocals in this track are excellently performed by Pete Hicks. This track also includes some really tasty guitar work from Mr S Hackett. How many of these Eminent Victorians did you count…?
From here on, the album switches to a more serious nature, none moreso, than track 6, ‘Broken’. This track is in keeping with the subject of memory, and the effects of time, , and this time trying to tactfully look at the subject of dementia, a subject close to many people’s hearts. My own partner works with people who suffer this, and she has said to me, its hard to explain, so here Nick makes a really excellent attempt at this, looking at it through the eyes of the sufferer, and how everything breaks down. Taking on this subject for me deserves a lot of respect, and for me Nick gets this by the truck load for this truly awesome track. There is some excellent guitar work from Mr Hackett, and also some interesting Sax from Rob Townsend, at the beginning the sax sounds controlled, but towards the end I thought it was mixed up, which kind of fits to well, with the dementia theme, towards the end, things do get so mixed up, and then sadly….
The penultimate track of the album, is the wonderfully atmospheric ‘Shadowland’.
This track has some wonderful and tasteful guitar work by Mr Hackett, blended
with some fine backing keyboard work from Nick.
And then comes the final track, Entropy. This is just a really nice track, its slow, yet positive, a nice vocal and sound balance, and a nice close to what is a fantastic album.
“Basically the whole concept of the album is about time and memory and it is about how time creates everything but ultimately destroys everything as well. In the short term when things are gone the only thing that is retained is a memory of them and even that goes eventually when people die so when that happens, the things are gone and the people are gone and there is nothing left at all”. *comment courtesy of Nick Magnus*
What I really enjoy when listening to this album, is the complexity of it. The fact that Nick has explored lots of different musical avenues, and styles, a vast array of sounds and textures. When I first listened, I was scratching my head at times, but the more I have listened and understood the album, it all fits so perfectly and the end product is genuinely an awesome album, and one I would certainly advocate is worth adding to the collection, if you haven’t already.