Reviewed by Mike DeGagne, All Music Guide:
As the World comes off much stronger than Echolyn’s first few releases, with an instrumental barrage that is full and flourished, sounding more dynamic than 1991′s Echolyn and 92′s Suffocating the Bloom. With As the World, Echolyn’s progressive tendencies take root in the quick-changing rhythms and in the musical momentum altogether, much like Yes’s structure but without the intricate string work.
Many of the tracks harbor a jazz-ridden flow to their sound, with smatterings of folk cropping up here and there. “The Cheese Stands Alone,” “Never the Same,” and “My Dear Wormwood” initiate a stable, neo-progressive feel, with time signatures that appealingly fluctuate and shift without notice. As the World implements more melodies in it’s songs as well, giving the album a much tighter impression and a more accomplished progressive groove than its predecessors.
Individually, Christopher Buzby’s keyboard playing steals the show, but not by putting his instrument at the forefront, but rather by texturing the sound and coming in behind many of the tracks, presenting them with an effective curtain of layered notes for the rest of the music to lean against. Unlike a number of other neo-progressive groups, Echolyn’s instrumental and vocal prowess are at an equal level, instilling cogent harmonizing throughout the album’s tracks with regard to the surrounding music. As The World presents Echolyn in their most complete stage, tying any loose ends together that existed in their earlier recordings. ~ Mike DeGagne, All Music Guide
Reviewed by Alex S. Garcia, Spun.com
In the progressive vein, Echolyn is one of the most creative and amazing bands. Their music is very diverse and can be intricate at times, thus, it would not serve as a good introduction to progressive music, even if it is very representative of the genre. In 16 short tracks, this band creates more variety than others with half as much. They do not take themselves seriously, as is obvious through their strange and/or funny lyrics (“The cheese stands alone,” “My dear wormwood”). Some of the most impressive material can be found on “As the World,” “The Cheese Stands Alone,” “One for the Show,” and “Never the Same.” This is a must for the progressive savvy. ~ Alex S. Garcia
Reviewed by Furia.com:
“Echolyn also arrive in my life due to anticipatory hype on the net. In this case the accolades came from the progressive rock cabal, an even more exclusive and siege-minded enclave than Ecto. As with Ecto, though, this aggregate is fond of a run of bands I ardently approve of, like Marillion, IQ, Jadis, Dream Theater, Queensryche, Fates Warning, and such predictable forefathers as Yes and Rush. And they seemed to really be into echolyn, who are making their major label debut with this album but who have put out three earlier ones on their own and built up something of a following at home in Philadelphia, evidently.
The part of the equation I couldn’t quite solve, though, was what a prog-rock band would be doing on Sony. I mean, Fish, Marillion’s ex-vocalist, can’t even get his records released domestically any more (despite a pretty successful effort to sound like Phil Collins), Marillion loses money touring here, IQ albums must be mail-ordered, and most of what seems to be the action in progressive rock isn’t even happening in English (though I’m still not totally convinced that some net denizens aren’t inventing hordes of fictional prog bands from Italy and Peru, just to confuse me). Then again, Dream Theater is on a Warner label, and Queensryche is on Capitol, so perhaps this is just mindless label parity.
Judging from both my reaction and that of several other net habitues coerced into buying As the World, I think the advance hype was somewhat misleading. Anybody expecting Dream Theater-esque ultra-complex prog-metal would be sorely disappointed with this, as there’s very little here to merit a “-metal” suffix. Similarly, Marillion fans on the eternal quest for more bands like Marillion (a quest that, so far, for me, has yielded IQ and a lot of blatant and unsatisfying mimicry) will probably not consider this baroque album what they were after.
People open to hybrids, though, may have substantially better luck. There is good sense to some of the comparisons if they’re qualified properly. The place to start, really, is Yes, circa Relayer and Close to the Edge, and those other albums that had about three songs each. echolyn’s music is as compositionally complex, ambitious, and often deliriously overblown. The songs are shorter, though, which they appear to have managed by just compressing everything in time. Imagine Tales from Topographic Oceans performed at about six times its original speed, so that 18-minute meditations become 3-minute micro-symphonies. Occasional motifs suddenly become choruses. Extended instrumental soliloquies become drive-by solos. The Dream Theater comparisons, I think, derive from echolyn’s ability to play quickly (this album has about 350 times as many notes as most, and is only twice as long), and to change tempos and keys with no warning, several times a second.
The two other obvious differences between echolyn and Yes both revolve around the singing. There is no Jon Anderson here, no distinctive falsetto lead. Instead, co-leads Ray Weston and Brett Kull, and keyboard player Christopher Buzby, execute air-show vocal formations whose harmonies and dynamics are actually much like those of the band’s other instruments. At times they remind me of a classical a cappella group, jumping from combined chord to combined chord in ways that I’d be hard pressed to replicate on a piano using my fingers, of which I have substantially more than they have throats. This singing style is very much out of keeping with the standard rock nonchalance, and I suspect will put many people off even before the music gets to them.
The other thing that results from not having Jon Anderson around is that echolyn’s lyrics do not end up being flights of questionable mysticism and oddly translated Eastern philosophy. In fact, they’re kind of normal, thoughtful, lyrics, serviceable if not especially distinctive on their own. I find it refreshing, though, to have this musical style divorced from its standard lyrical content. There are certain progressive albums I have and like a lot (Pallas’ The Sentinel bounds to mind), which I can’t bring myself to play when anybody else is around because the lyrics are so painfully prog-stereotypical. Give a prog-rock skeptic a single mention of Atlantis to latch onto, and you’ll never hear the end of it.
The bad news, of course, is that echolyn’s style is so concertedly progressive that playing the whole album for anybody not already predisposed toward the style is likely to be little more than futility practice. Indeed, even I had to listen to the album several times before I could do much more than blink through most of it, thinking that if the members of the band had been born 1000 years earlier they’d probably have been quite happy illuminating single prayer book pages in flickering candlelight for months on end. Taking a song at a time, though, until the proper tolerance is built up, might be a much more viable introduction strategy.
Many of the 16 songs here (“Best Regards” and “Settled Land” are two good examples, I think) have strong melodic elements, recognizable choruses, and other friendly features, along with more adventurous bits, and so make somewhat balanced points of entry for the reluctant and uninitiated.
Just to be safe, though, if you don’t have a good pair of headphones you might pick up a set while you’re out buying this album. You need this music, but you also need your friends.”
Reviewed by Progreviews.com:
After reading one glowing review after another about this band, I quickly snatched up As the World when I found it at a used CD shop. To be honest, I think this band is vastly overrated. They’re certainly not bad – they’ve got chops and know how to play high-speed, fairly complex music. The vocals are also well done. But for some reason it doesn’t all gel into what I would consider a great prog album. About the only track that I really enjoy is the very short instrumental, “The Wiblet”.
I think my problem with this band stems from the music being too flashy. I hate the “too many notes” criticism of music, but in the case of this album it really seems true – like they’re just playing that fast to impress, not because it adds anything to the composition. After a while, it gets mind-numbing. Also, the lyrics try so hard to be deep and worldly, but come off sounding like a whiney teenager who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else. The Christian-rock influences (something I rarely see mentioned about Echolyn) don’t help to endear them to me either.
In the end, I’d say that if Spock’s Beard could double their chops, they’d sound just like Echolyn. If you think that sounds like a compliment, then Echolyn might be just the band for you.
Echolyn’s shot at the big time, this is the only album they recorded with Sony before breaking up, only to reform in late 1999. The music shows a progression of the band’s style away from the naive neo-prog of the first album towards a fusion of 90s rock and progressive rock that works very well for me.
While there is certainly some accomplished musicianship on this album (particularly from keyboardist Chris Buzby) they tend to stick to writing songs rather than sprawling compositional “epics”. There is plenty of vocal harmonization on this one, and occasionally a light jazzy touch to this one that sticks out in contrast to the rockier parts.
There is a fair amount of string work on this one, particularly at the start of songs. Although a string section is credited, I’m not sure which parts are them and which parts are synthesized. Apart from that, the instrumentation is fairly standard for rock let alone prog, save the addition of Buzby’s keyboards (and yes, I am among the people who wishes he’d buy a moog or something, just for kicks).
Although some might be put off by the increased commercialism of this release, and there are those who would criticize the ever-optimistic nature of the lyrics, I think this album does an excellent job of marrying progressive rock to what was going on in the 90s, in a way that was much more relevant than similar attempts by Spock’s Beard and other such bands. There are songs here, such as “One for the Show”, or “Settled Land” which strike me as strong on every level, evaluated from either the genre of rock or the genre of prog. Maybe I’ve just been suckered by this one, but I greatly enjoy it, and I recommend it without hesitation to a fan of any type of music.
You’ll have to overlook one of the world’s worst rock album covers to get to some great music contained on this disc, but hopefully that should be easy enough. Alongside Änglagård’s Hybris, As the World was probably the most talked-about progressive rock release of the 1990s. Echolyn were noted for a dizzyingly inventive harmonic sense (both in their dense, layered vocals and in the music) combined with impressive technique conscientiously held at bay from the contemporaneous wankdom of the Magna Carta label. Obviously, their days on a major label were numbered. The lyrics and Ray Weston’s vocal delivery can get a bit overdone at times in that exaggerated ‘wide-eyed, idealistic youth’ kind of way, but that’s a small complaint. “Entry 11/19/93″ and the album’s memorable closer “Never the Same” are both classics, personally speaking. A great disc.
Essential 90′s prog! I remember when I bought this, and the guy I get my CD’s from locally was telling me that these guys were it, our hope for a prog revival. When I put it on the player and heard the violin strains and mesmorizing vocals to “All Ways The Same” I knew this was something special. Great musicianship, excellent songwriting, vocals sung with authority; a prog band with balls.
Unfortunately for all of us the band fell apart after this release, but “Suffocating The Bloom” is still available (ed: not anymore) along with a final release of material “When The Sweet Turns Sour”. Along with Änglagård, they were the best prog I heard in the 90′s in my opinion. The influence of Gentle Giant is strong, but the band has its own unique sound.
My favorite tracks here are “A Short Essay”, “Entry” which is mellow and “Audio Verite”. Two splinter groups formed out of the bands demise, Finneus Gauge and keyboardist Chris Buzby’s latest outfit, and Still (or Always Almost) with vocalist Ray Weston, Brett Kull, and Paul Ramsey. Weston has recently hooked up with Dark Aether Project as vocalist. I miss this band; get this one and the others while you still can.
It took me a while to start liking this release, and to be honest I still don’t quite see what the hype is. Echolyn plays a mostly fast-paced, constantly theme-shifting brand of prog (for some reason I sometimes thing the band is in this way similar to Deus ex Machina), with a whole crapload of vocal harmonies a la Gentle Giant.
At first listen, with all those changing themes and meters, and all those goofy vocal harmonies, I absolutely despised this stuff. By the third listen I’d gotten over my initial distaste of the vocal harmonies and was working on figuring out all the shifting themes. I’ve stalled at this point – I still don’t think the whole thing fits together very well. The album is way too long, also, and I can never listen to the whole thing in one sitting.
There are several individual songs I like – the more relaxed, less schizophrenic ones, mainly, such as “How Long I Have Waited” (love the rhythm section in this one) and “Never the Same” – but as a whole, I haven’t yet found what’s to love. As a final note, while these guys are often categorized as neo-prog, I have my doubts as to whether the average Marillion or Pendragon fan is going to like this stuff, as it definitely has its quirks and complexities.”
Reviewed by Epinions.com:
“Did you ever wonder what happened to those guys in high school who took years and years of music lessons? I think that a good share of them went out and created bands like echolyn (note to the capitalization police — the band name is never capitalized.)
Echolyn released two albums and an EP on their own label in the early 1980s. Although they attracted little more than a cult following within the Progressive Rock community, they came to the attention of some whiz at Sony, who signed them to a deal on Sony 550 Music.
The band, for this album, was Ray Weston, vocals; Brett Kull, guitars; Chris Buzby, keyboards; Tom Hyatt, bass and midi pedals; and Paul Ramsey, drums. Weston has a strong voice with a good range, and harmonic vocals are provided by him, Kull and Buzby. Although all members are superb musicians, both Buzby and Ramsey deserve special mention. Buzby plays some of the most amazing piano parts on this album, and keeping up with these guys would present a challenge to any drummer, and the fact that Ramsey not only manages that, but adds his own flair to the eclectic sound is notable.
As the World
This was the first release by the band on a major label, but as anyone in the prog community could have predicted, it was a commercial disappointment and led to the band calling it quits for about five years.
Although the previous albums had bordered more on the acoustic sound made popular by Kansas, the higher budget and expectations of the major label probably led a fuller, more expansive sound that owed an immense debt to Gentle Giant, an early UK based Progressive band.
To attempt to describe this type of music does it a misjustice, but I’ll make an effort…
In general, a musical piece will stay in a single key and time signature (eg: 4/4 time.) Occasionally, a band will change keys during the final chorus, an effect that makes the song a bit disjointed, but a little more interesting.
Now, imagine a band that switched keys or pacing up to a dozen times within a song. A band that layers many different vocals on top of each other, some in different keys. A guitarist who’s playing at a different speed than the keyboardist. That’s this album, in a nutshell.
I’m sure that some out there are saying “that’s all well and good, but doesn’t it sound like crap?” I suppose that if I went out and tried to do it, it probably would. But these guys are of a different caliber, and amazingly enough, it really works. If you have the ear to pick out everything that’s going on, it’s an incredible listening experience.
I didn’t care for this album the first couple of times that I heard it, except for Buzby, who stands out. After giving it a little more time, I named it the best release of 1995, and is one of my top ten favourite albums of all time. It’s rather unfortunate, that, following this release, Hyatt quit the band and they went their separate ways until last year, when they released Cowboy Poems Free, again on their own label.
The key instruments on the album are Kull’s guitar and Buzby’s keyboards. Ramsey and Hyatt do an admirable job in keeping up, but they have less focus here.
One disadvantage is that the album liner notes do not include any lyrics. You can find them online at http://www.echolyn2000.com/albums/atw.htm
All Ways the Same
A 35 second symphonic introduction that opens the album with vocals layered over the end.
As the World
Absolutely frenzied song that immediately sets the tone of the album. The multiple tunes, tones, vocals and times that are stuffed into this five minute song are unbelievable. If you can get into and appreciate this song, you will love the rest of the album.
In this day of bully inspired school shootings, this song about a nerd being pushed around takes on a whole new perspective. The driving instrument on this song is Kull’s guitar, although Buzby plays several interesting keyboard interludes. Again, the vocals play on multiple levels and the harmonics give the song an overpowering feel.
How Long I Have Waited
This song opens with a guitar riff played over a complex bass line by Hyatt. A very nice flute part by Sam Levine flows throughout the song, contrary to the heavy sound of the main tune.
Lyrically, this is very interesting, a letter written to yourself in the future. This is my favourite song of the album, particularly for Buzby’s creative piano playing. I haven’t played the keyboards in a lot of years, but I would think that anyone who had would appreciate the twisted tune that he cranks out.
The Cheese Stands Alone
An oddball track that borders on alternative music, this is about how the band has been “pigeon holed” into a musical genre. The middle part of the song sounds quite a bit like early Crack the Sky, although I asked Buzby about it once and he said that only Ramsey was familiar with their work.
A minute and a half instrumental with piano, bass and keyboards that is a gorgeous melody. “Prose.” Instrumental. Get it? No, I guess not But I’m sure it seemed funny at the time.
A Short Essay
This one starts out like a Queen song, with only Weston on vocals and Buzby on the piano. The rest of the band joins in, and the effect is not unlike “Bohemian Rhapsody” (without the operatic vocals.) Kull has one of his best guitar solos within this song, playing behind a heavy harmonic vocal.
My Dear Wormwood
I suppose that a band which had a suite based on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead on their first album could be expected to drawn from another obscure novel for inspiration. In this case, C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. It’s actually a fairly concise summary. If pointing to one song on the album that catches all aspects of the band, this might be it. Very unusual key and time signature; harmonic vocals that go all over the place; and thoughtful lyrics.
A reasonably standard ballad, accompanied by a string section and the lighter aspects of the band. Weston’s vocals really shine on this track.
One For the Show
Another fairly calm song, this has an orchestra backdrop for the harmonic vocals. Buzby again plays an intimidating piano solo towards the end the blends into another great Kull guitar piece. Lyrically, the song borrows snippets from earlier songs on the album, which is interesting, although it might have been more so if this was the last song on the album.
A 47 second instrumental led by Buzby playing an impossible line on the piano, accompanied by discordant instruments that somehow falls together.
Beginning with a heavy guitar that comes out of “The Wiblet,” this is a fairly calm song. Weston’s lyrics on “going along with the crowd” are pointed, and the harmonic vocals work well into the theme. Right in the middle of the song, the band slips into a different key and time signature that is a bit staggering before things get back to normal.
This sounds a bit like Kansas, and not simply for the subject matter. The complexity is kept to a minimum in the song, which almost follows the standard verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, verse, chorus pattern.
A Habit Worth Form
Another quiet song, this is mostly Weston with the multi-layer vocals behind him, piano and bells. The bells give it something of a lullaby like sound, although it eventually kicks into gear as Kull contributes another excellent guitar solo.
Never the Same
This is the most beautiful song on the album and is a fitting close. Solely Weston, acoustic guitar, drums, flute and the orchestra, aside from the harmonic vocals, this is not an unusual song at all. Maybe an odd thing to say, but I’d like this song played at my funeral (Lynn, you listening?)
Make no bones about it, this is not music for the masses. It’s not something that the average person is going to sit down and say “wow, this is really good.” To make harmony out of discord requires great skill, and I think that you have to understand a bit about music to really appreciate that.
To be sure, there are some songs here that are fairly standard (“Never the Same,” “How Long Have I Waited”) but the majority is complex music that requires concentration to get the full impact of. When you have this level of talent committed to this level of musical adventure, you’re not doing it justice if you toss it on while you wash the dishes.
Fans of Gentle Giant, Crack the Sky, Spock’s Beard, and, to a lesser extent, Kansas will find this album a refreshing addition to their collection. While I consider this to be one of the best albums ever made, I’m not egotistical enough to expect many people beyond a core following to agree.
If you are a trained musician and have a chance to hear some echolyn, give it a few listens…even if you don’t like it, you’re bound to come away impressed.”
Reviewed by Artist Direct.com:
Echolyn–a band with a name as unique as its music–is poised for its first major label release. Their debut album “as the world”, co-produced by three-time Grammy Award winner Glenn Rosenstein and echolyn, will be released on Sony 550 Music/Epic Records in March of 1995.
With four years of touring, recording, and performing behind them, these five musicians have established a strong fan base, both locally and around the world. The members of echolyn receive mail weekly from as far away as Italy, Sweden and Japan, and their fans use the Internet to discuss the band’s three independently released albums as well as review and announce live shows.
The enthusiasm of those fans has, on occasion, taken the band members by surprise, as when echolyn performed their first gig in Canada in 1993. Lead singer Ray Weston recalls the trip: “We thought that nobody knew us there, but when we got to the club and the doors opened, people started trickling in. By the time we got on stage there were about 200 people in the audience, and they knew all the words to all the songs!”
The band has also been showered with critical praise. The Philadelphia Times Herald referred to echolyn as “forging a credible path in exclusive musical territory,” and The Philadelphia Inquirer headlined a feature story on echolyn with “Thinking-man’sband demands full attention.”
Accolades have also come from beyond the U.S. borders. Background, from the Netherlands, describes echolyn’s style as “…world class musicianship and risk-taking spirit.” Melodie, from Italy, calls echolyn “a bright island inside the distressing strategies that rule the musical world.” It is quite clear that there is a global hunger for echolyn’s unique musical style.
echolyn’s music has been described as progressive rock, and in the truest sense of the word, they are moving forward. Chris Buzby, echolyn’s classically trained keyboardist, explains, “All of our music is written and arranged around many themes and variations, melodies and harmonies, and various chord and song structures- which all combine to make our music truly progressive. We always want to come across as something new.”
Tom Hyatt, echolyn’s bass player, agrees, “I think the fact that every band member has classical, jazz, pop and rock influences is what gives echolyn its unique style. Usually musicians of different styles do not associate with one another; this band is actually based on that premise.” As a band, echolyn is not afraid to have a sound or identity that is different from the norm. That alone will be a major part of their staying power.
From the beginnings the band shared a desire to challenge themselves musically and lyrically- and they’ve remained faithful to their original intent. “We set up challenges for ourselves so we wouldn’t get stagnant, so our next album won’t sound like our last album,” says guitarist Brett Kull. “We want to find new territories to explore. We got negative feedback for that at first, but as we kept putting out more music, people finally realized that we were being honest, not pretentious. That’s when we started developing our following.”
echolyn’s musical skills are also on par with their musical aspirations. “It’s exciting that musicians are finally picking up their instruments again and rediscovering the power of live performance- both in, and out, of the recording studio,” states Buzby. All five of these musicians are truly versatile and virtuosic players, fully capable of performing all of their original material live. Their vocal harmonies are also like nothing currently heard on rock radio. Weston, Kull and Buzby all possess impressive vocal ranges, and their ambitious use of of cross-voicing and precise 3-part harmony is a vital element of this band’s singular, and always identifiable, sound.
But echolyn isn’t all counterpoint and mixed meter. Their lyrics try to convey positive messages while taking on subject matter ranging from the most secular (such as “Uncle,” Weston’s autobiographical piece about being teased by the neighborhood bully), to the grandest of themes (“Entry 11/19/93″ and “One for the Show,” two tracks that document an old man’s last days of life in a nursing home. As looks back on his life he realizes that he is accountable for all his past actions).
Kull refers to “The Cheese Stands Alone,” as “our real bio. It’s about all the things we’ve been through getting involved with the music industry.” (Sample lyric: “I’ve been AORed, alter-nadized / Heavy metaled, acousticized / Pickled to an amber hue / And never lied to me or you.”) Kull briefly explains: “In some crowds there’s this feeling that you have to play in 13/8 all the time to be progressive, but we’re not trying to be anything- just ourselves.” “We’re simply trying to open people’s minds and ears to a new way of listening to music; we don’t see that as being dated or retro. Hey, we’re just making noise like everybody else!” adds drummer Paul Ramsey.
With the musical imagination to envision a world without artificial barriers between genres, and with the talent to inhabit that world on their own terms, the members of echolyn are already busy writing new material while preparing for their next step. “We’re just happy that everyone’s been so into what we do,” says Kull.
As they prepare to take their music to a mass audience, echolyn stands as one of today’s genuine musical alternatives.”
Reviewed by x_bruce (see more about me) from Oak Park, ILLINOIS United States May 11, 2002 (Amazon.com)
With the exception of an occasional stylistic (vocal and arrangement) nod to Gentle Giant Echolyn produces one of the most original progressive CDs of the 90′s with As The World. The songwriting is excellent, songs like As The World, The Cheese Stands Alone and My Dear Wormwood develop while retaining melodic structure.
As a whole As The World is a consistantly entertaining album. While true that it may take a bit of time to get into the rewards are worth the effort. Some comments from prior reviewers make Echolyn sound overly complex and not accessible which may put some people off.
If you are familiar with progressive rock you will find a lot to be excited about on this CD. If you are looking for a super fast, prog metal album this might not be for you. There are plenty of dynamics and intensity but Echolyn are more similar to classic 70′s progressive in terms of structure and sound. Don’t let that scare you into thinking this is yet another retread or prog cliches as the music is contemporary. Another interesting aspect of the band are their American roots. On their next album, Cowboy Poems Free, they would develop an entire CD based on Americana. Some of that feel is here on As The World and is an interesting contrast to many of their contemporaries.
Some may find Ray Weston’s vocals an aquired taste. They didn’t do much for me initially, they are at times quite dramatic and seemed on first listen to be over the top. Through further listenings I’ve grown to enjoy his style.
These guys are excellent musicians that sing as well as they play. Their lyrics are also worth listening to. Sadly, this is the only major label CD by the band and it is their best. If you can find it get it.
Reviewed by Stephen Grimstead (http://www.memphisflyer.com)
As astute and regular contributors to the Noise record review column, the following writers feel the need to alert attuned and faithful readers of this paper to the idea that the following albums — all released within the past decade, more or less — did not achieve a deserved level of timely recognition.
Echolyn, As the World (Sony 550 Music)
Much like “fusion” — its hybrid-generating cousin from the jazz world — “progressive rock” has fallen on hard times.
The genre served as a favorite target for most of the critical establishment from its birth in the late ’60s/early ’70s on. These reviewers were put off by aspects of prog style that they deemed to be self-indulgent, inappropriately intellectual, musically overreaching, and hopelessly pompous. Prog fans, on the other hand, were thrilled to hear songs which featured lyrical content largely unconcerned with the traditional and tiresome “boy la-la-la-la loves girl” theme, and they were equally attracted to the stellar musicianship and showmanship displayed by outfits like Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Later, when the inevitable pendulum swing kicked in, punk intensity and progressive rock’s seeming inability to fend off creeping decay spelled disaster for die-hard prog fans. Finally, the very term itself was appropriated by a new breed of rather boneheaded metal bands, the likes of which no self-respecting Yes devotee could ever love.
Toward the end of the ’80s, a group of fairly regular guys with a lot of native talent and a great deal of enthusiasm were honing their chops in Pennsylvania, determined to make the type music they felt best conveyed their world view, regardless of prevailing musical trends. Calling themselves Echolyn, some of their early efforts were a somewhat unwieldly combination of decent ideas, adequate execution, maudlin pondering, and a slightly screwed-up sense of direction. But in 1995 they unveiled a stunningly beautiful and powerful prog masterpiece called As the World. With this one mighty release, Echolyn raised hopes in the hearts of those of us who still believe in prog’s possibilities.
Unfortunately, the band’s new label (Sony) didn’t get behind them, in a big way. (I knew things were astoundingly awry when I called a Sony publicist after business hours to express my unmitigated delight with the CD, only to have her chew me out the next day for taking up too much time on her answering machine — 40 seconds, or thereabouts.)
The intricacy, depth, positive vibe, and inventiveness of this CD speak for themselves, so pick it up and listen. Can’t find it? The band split for a while, but are on the verge of releasing a brand new album (not on Sony), so their old stuff should soon be available again. — Stephen Grimstead