Origins and first phase (1989-1995)
Echolyn was formed in 1989 when guitarist Brett Kull and drummer Paul Ramsey, members of a recently split cover band called Narcissus, joined with keyboardist Chris Buzby to form a new band to focus on original songs. They were soon joined by fellow Narcissus veteran Ray Weston on vocals and bassist Jesse Reyes, and quickly began playing live and recording their eponymous debut album, which was released in 1991. During the recording of that album, Reyes was replaced on bass by Tom Hyatt.
With this lineup, Echolyn recorded a second album, Suffocating the Bloom, and a 4-song EP, …and every blossom, and with these releases attracted the attention of Sony Music. In 1993, Echolyn was signed to a multi-album deal on Sony’s Epic Records label, and their major-label debut, As the World, was released in March 1995.
However, the band and the label did not agree on the band’s musical direction, and the band was forced to promote As the World without the support of Sony. Disillusioned, the band split up, releasing a posthumous album of demos and live tracks in 1996 called When the Sweet Turns Sour (featuring a cover of the early Genesis track “When The Sour Turns To Sweet”, which Sony refused to allow to be included on a Magna Carta Genesis tribute CD entitled “Supper’s Ready”).
Ray Weston, Brett Kull and Paul Ramsey formed a new, semi-progressive rock band called Still and released a disc called “Always Almost” in early 1996, on Geoff Logsdon’s Pleasant Green label. Later that year the band changed its name to Always Almost, releasing a much more progressive-oriented album entitled “God Pounds His Nails”, also on Pleasant Green.
Finneus Gauge 1997-1999
Short-lived, yet still ahead of their time musically, is how Finneus Gauge tends to be recalled these days.
Several members of this band are all now known for their individual works in different outfits (Echolyn, Land of Chocolate, Damn Fine Coffee, McGill/Manring/Stevens), but not too long ago, Chris Buzby, Jonn Buzby, and Scott McGill headed up one of the more underrated and adventurous musical creations of the 90′s in Finneus Gauge.
More Once More, the band’s first release, was hailed by Keyboard Magazine as one of the Top 10 Albums of 1997, and it’s easy to see why the editors were so impressed – acrobatic and gymnastic three-part vocal harmonies that challenge the ear and take the seldom-used approach of allowing a female frontperson (Laura Martin) to sing BELOW her male backing counterparts on occasion to striking and aurally-pleasing results.
One Inch of the Fall, FG’s 1999 follow-up release, served as a much darker and menacing display of the band’s talents – impeccably-crafted but insanely melodic music, a growling rhythm section (including bassist Chris Eike), and daring compositions that amaze with sheer audacity abound a-plenty.
Sadly, the band’s lifespan was short, as internal conflicts within the band led to their resolution shortly after the release of “One Inch of the Fall”. However, several band members’ more recent projects are still thriving, and you are urged to check them out through the friend links below.
As for the band name, Finneus Gauge derived their name from that of Phineas Gage, a mid-nineteenth-century railroad construction foreman in the United States. A site accident resulted in a 3’7″ tamping iron being driven through his head, from the left cheek to the top of his skull. Amazingly, he survived for more than twenty years, with the metal still embedded in his head, though he suffered major personality changes. The case is well-known in the annals of medicine
To Cry You a Song: A Collection of Tull Tales
It was during this time that Echolyn were asked by Magna Carta Records to contribute to a Jethro Tull tribute album. Weston, Kull, and Ramsey (who owned the Echolyn trademark name) chose “One Brown Mouse,” recorded the song, and the CD To Cry You a Song: A Collection of Tull Tales was released July 2, 1996. The CD contained Tull covers by prog giants Keith Emerson (with Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker, and Glenn Cornick), Magellan, and John Wetton, among others.
[Second phase (2000-present)
Echolyn formally reformed – without Tom Hyatt – in the spring of 2000. Ray Weston took over bass duties and new member Jordan Perlson (a Berklee College of Music graduate and former student of Buzby) supplemented Ramsey on drums and percussion. This lineup produced the 2000 album Cowboy Poems Free, a loose concept album centering on Americana, and the 2002 album mei, which contains only a single, 50-minute-long track.
After playing as a guest with the band in 2002 and early 2003, Tom Hyatt officially rejoined Echolyn later that year. The first album from the fully reformed lineup was The End Is Beautiful, released in September 2005. Subsequently, the band embarked on their first European tour.
“After The Storm” (Nearfest Records)
They also contributed a new track called “15 Days” to the benefit album “After the Storm” (NEARfest Records), in support of the survivors of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The band was later featured at the inaugural Festival des Musiques Progressives de Montréal in Quebec, Canada in September 2006.
echolyn – Cowboy Poems Free (Remastered)
2008 saw the release of a newly remastered Cowboy Poems Free as well as solo work from Brett Kull. Work was progressing toward a new album slated for release mid-2012 with the following working titles for tracks announced:
- Accumulated Blur
- Hey Little Man
- Moments Without Sound
- Some Memorial
- What Comes After
- The Cardinal and I
Echolyn continued to tour sporadically through 2009.
echolyn’s latest album culminates with over 20 years of playing together and highlights the very best of what they’ve accomplished thus far. Bridging the gap between “As The World” and the post-Cowboy Poems Free periods… echolyn have produced a gorgeous new sound with elements of both styles.
Mixed by Brett Kull and mastered by Robert Hadley the self titled album has exquisite sound quality with unmatched “space’ and clarity and is a testimony to the band’s desire to deliver perfection.
Release date June 19th, 2012
While the band’s style has varied over the years, those influences have been consistently reflected in their music. Intricate guitar leads, unorthodox harmonic structures influenced by modern classical music, and complex contrapuntal vocal passages have remained significant aspects of the musical sound of Echolyn.
The albums they recorded before their 1996 breakup sounded more like “classic” progressive rock, with layered keyboards and extended arrangements. Following their reformation, they have streamlined their style significantly, emphasizing strong, tightly constructed songwriting and more prominent rhythmic grooves, while maintaining much of the subtle sophistication that has caused their music to be labeled “progressive.”
- Ray Weston – vocals, bass
- Brett Kull – guitars, vocals
- Chris Buzby – keyboards, vocals
- Paul Ramsey – drums, percussion
- Tom Hyatt – bass
- Jesse Reyes – bass (on Echolyn)
- Jordan Perlson – percussion (as a full member on Cowboy Poems Free and as a guest musician on mei)
- Echolyn (1991)
- Suffocating the Bloom (1992)
- …and every blossom (1993)
- As the World (1995)
- When the Sweet Turns Sour (1996)
- To Cry You a Song: A Collection of Tull Tales (contribution) (1996)
- Cowboy Poems Free (2000)
- A Little Nonsense (Now and Then) (2002) (box set)
- mei (2002)
- Progfest ’94 (the Official Bootleg) (2002) (released for trading among fans)
- Jersey Tomato, Volume 2 (Live at the Metlar-Bodine Museum) (2004)
- Stars and Gardens, Volume 4 DVD (2004)
- The End Is Beautiful (2005)
- After the Storm: A Benefit Album for the Survivors of Hurricane Katrina (contribution) (2006)
- echolyn (2012)