Band Website: www.darwinsradio.co.uk
Release Date: 2009
Those of you who’ve been following the progressive rock scene for any length of time will no doubt have heard of the popular nineties era band Grey Lady Down who recorded four studio albums before fading from the scene. Well two members from GLD hooked up with two others to form Darwin’s Radio. The group’s first CD released in 2006 was received warmly but didn’t exactly set the world on fire in any way. Well hang on to your hats because their second release, Template for a Generation is one hot CD. Darwin’s Radio is made up of Declan Burke (vocals, guitar), Mark Westworth (keyboards, vocals), Sean Spear (bass) and Tim Churchman (drums). Let me be so bold as to suggest if you’re into symphonic prog Template for a Generation is probably one of the most satisfying listens you’re going to hear.
There are a total of three tracks on Template for a Generation; one is 19-minutes, the second is 11-minutes and the third is 13-minutes. If you are asking what do they sound like, well think IQ mixed with Frost*. This is grand symphonic prog of the highest caliber. Each track is infused with wonderful melodies that seem to float throughout the piece in ever changing fashion. What I mean is you start off humming one tune but by the end you’re humming something completely different. And yet the musical quotient is extremely high, with plenty of moments where solos stretch the composition into uncharted waters. Because of the length of each track, there are plenty musical change-ups and each transition is handled beautifully, perhaps using sound effects and voice loops, or music that gradually slows down or speeds up. There are moments of quiet introspection contrasted with spectacular grand flourishes replete with bass pedals and massed Mellotron vocals. Soaring guitar notes are spotlighted overtop of a wall of keyboards that will suddenly shift into something completely different which then takes on a life of it’s own taking the song into yet another direction. But this is the thing I noticed; each musical change is so fully complete, so fully structured, there are simply no wasted moments here.
This CD was a total surprise for me. It’s one of those discs that makes me ask, “Where do these guys come up with such fantastic stuff?” Sadly guitarist and vocalist Dec Burke announced his departure from Darwin’s Radio following the release of this disc. He will be missed. The good news is that Westworth says the band will continue if for no other reason than Darwin’s Radio still has a lot of great music to make. Template for a Generation is a stunning release and get’s my highest recommendation.