220px-Tinyfish_one_night_on_fireGeneric music labels are tricky beasts at the best of times. They may be easy (or lazy) handles but they can be very limiting as well. The term progressive rock may very well be the most vague of the lot. Whilst the term progressive implies music that pushes boundaries, evolving from more standard rock styles, unfortunately it also immediately conjures up images of keyboard players dressed as wizards singing about elves, and possibly vice versa. (yes, Wakeman, we are talking about you!) Tinyfish are an example of just how redundant the label and the image it generates are and this live album is all the proof you need.
Although they bear many of the trapping s of 70’s bands that shall remain…well, remain Yes and ELP, they embrace much to be found in other genres and more contemporary movements as well and it is this forward looking approach that keeps them relevant and fresh. And if on occasion they do tip their hat to some dinosaur rockers of the past, it is certainly not the star patterned, pointy type, more a natty fedora worn at a rakish angle.
It’s easy to spot some of the neo-progressive markers in their musical landscape, soaring guitar solos that occasionally head into Pendragon territory and Orwellian spoken word bulletins that Twelfth Night fans might appreciate as well as the less specific building blocks common to the genre. Actually there is quite a dystopian undercurrent to some of their music, hardly surprising when two of the band cite Blade Runner amongst their top films.
But it’s not some gloomy sub Vangelis soundtrack, the music just as often filled with full on rock driving grooves and spiralling riffs, Motorville being a prime example, as it is with clever musical constructs and reflective, synth washed passages. But the nature of the beast is that the songs often fall straight out of one extreme and into the other and this is what makes it so vibrant, Wide Awake At Midnight neatly encapsulating this, in fact if you wanted a brief overview of what the band are about, this song pretty much runs the full terpsichorean gamut.
What is quite admirable about the sound of the band is that above an extremely competent rhythm section, the myriad of sounds heard are produced by the guitars. All those apparent keyboard washes and strange and exotic peripheral sounds also come courtesy of the six string department, not the normal approach for a band who create such a symphonic and textured sound.
As an overview of the bands two studio albums, this acts as the perfect first port of call, not only a live rendition, but one that maintains a high production quality and the virtuosity of playing needed to do the songs justice. And on the strength of this album I would have to say that progressive rock, for want of a better word, is in particularly safe hands.

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