What do you get if you cross a grenadier guardsman with a cruise ship entertainer? Well... you get Kite Parade, a brand-new Progressive Rock outfit from the United Kingdom. When I use the term “outfit”, I’m really just talking about one individual... multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Andy Foster, who spent time in those aforementioned professions before realising his musical dream. Assisting this Somerset-born artist, on five of the seven tracks, is none other than renowned percussionist Nick D'Virgilio (Spock’s Beard, Big Big Train); drumming duties on the remaining two songs are executed by Joe Crabtree (Wishbone Ash, Pendragon).
Dear reader, you mustn’t get hung up over the “Progressive” banner that this offering has been filed under. Yes, of course, ‘The Way Home’ is built upon a classic template of Prog Rock; however, Foster has managed to harvest influences from decades of progressive music, and he’s cleverly intertwined those influences with accessible Pop traits, thus eliminating those overly technical, often pretentious passages we love to hate. This entire album promotes lush, expansive soundscapes that gently envelop the listener with its melodies, hooks, transcendent instrumental sections and uplifting lyrics. If you enjoy the decorative facets of Yes, Genesis, Spock’s Beard, Big Big Train, Lonely Robot, It Bites and more recently Downes Braide Association, then this album is definitely for you.
Opening tune ‘Letting Go’ is It Bites in all but name; it’s an inspirative tune with a stunning synergy between guitars and keyboards. Foster’s vocal delivery is sublime, and his skill at storytelling is irrefutable. ‘Strip The Walls’ is darker, more intense in places, integrating some purposeful guitar fills over sprawling keyboard flourishes; the utilisation of a saxophone lifts the song to even greater heights.
‘This Time’ is driven by semi-acoustic guitar and exquisite keys, and blossoms like spring into summer; a beautiful vocal and another burst of saxophone shroud the listener with a temperate and paradisaical glow. The orchestral ‘Suffer No Longer’ features exceptional vocal harmonies over piano passages and succinct guitar melodies, whilst in contrast, ‘Going Under’ is a dark, psychological number, driven by pulsating bass lines. The radio-friendly title track is more Pop than Prog; however, that imbalance is soon overturned with the closing epic ‘Stranded’. This almost- fifteen-minutes of cinematic brilliance is a journey of inter-changeable tempos, light and shade and unrepressed arrangements; a nigh-on perfect conclusion to a nigh- on perfect album.
Take a bow, Andy Foster!!
Reviewer: Dave Crompton
Label: White Knight
Reviewed In Issue #99
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