Band: Steve Cochrane
Band Website: www.spiritcompass.com
Label: Sprit Compass Music - Independent Release
Release Date: 2012
The internet has provided musicians with a wonderful tool that allows them to generate exposure and sales for even such niche oriented genres as Progressive Rock. The impact is hard to imagine until you look at how artists such as Steve Cochrane benefit from the technology. Cochraneís one of the growing number of Canadian prog artists out there and La La La: Variations on a Happy Song is his fourth CD and it continues his own particular symphonic approach. Handling the bulk of the musical execution is of course multi-instrumentalist Cochrane (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards) and as on previous outings he enlists the help of Arman Faguay (percussion, vocals), Kevin Richard (drums), Richard Rizzo (drums), Murray James-Bosch (backing vocals), Lesla Kervourst (vocals) and Aimee Matuszczak (vocals). This fourth release shows Cochrane in fine form having created his most polished progressive rock offering yet.
La La La: Variations on a Happy Song is close to an hour in length and features nine tracks most of which are six-minutes or longer this time around. Itís an opportunity for Cochrane to stretch out musically. Nailing down a specific style is a little tricky: thereís a strong acoustic streak that runs through all these compositions a folk-inspired streak and yet electric guitar is everywhere as well. All of this is supported by lush symphonic strings. Grand crescendos ebb making way for soft pastoral guitar or sometimes build to crushing climaxes. In general the music maintains a major-chord vibe and yet there is more than a little drama and darker moods. Itís not all sweet and lovely. Thereís a distinct blend of musical approaches, part Steve Hackett, part Gordon Giltrap and part Guy Manning. When you mix it all together it translates to Steve Cochrane. The opening ďAlarm Clock OvertureĒ [7:50] does exactly what an overture is supposed to do; it introduces us to the many musical themes that will show up in later compositions. While his previous recording consisted of tunes mostly under six-minutes in length, here he takes every opportunity to write more complex tunes, the longest being a tick under 11-minutes. As you would expect these tunes move through various moods and styles creating huge swells of symphonic majesty or sometimes darkly moody passages. Itís quite cinematic.
La La La: Variations on a Happy Song is an album that will certainly appeal to fans of the bands already mentioned, but also to those who enjoy the music of artists such as Jethro Tull, Renaissance, or even early Pavlovís Dog. Cochrane is a singer-songwriter in the finest of traditions and with this release seems poised to reach a much wider audience. If you enjoy symphonic prog Iíd certainly recommend you check out Steve Cochrane.