CD Title: Book II
Label: New Ocean Media (2017)
Rating: Deliciously amazing Pocket-Symphonies!
Five years in the making Doug Rausch is back with a new release entitled Book II and itís a bold and dramatic statement that lies neatly in between the genres of Art-Rock and Symphonic Prog. Philadelphia based Rausch has once again surrounded himself with some notable talent from Spockís Beard, Shadow Gallery and Fates Warning to help execute his grand piano driven musical vision. After multiple listens I was struck by how these nine mostly longer tunes are like pocket-symphonies full of ascending and descending major chord transitions which are intersected by a variety of call-and-response musical structures. Virtually every song on this sixty-one minute journey is a stunning achievement of musical variety and performance with the piano being the ever present glue holding everything together. Itís his instrument of choice and is often heard on its own transitioning between one song segment to another. Rauschís tenor and at times falsetto vocal range is perfect for creating a lamenting tone that is off-set by the musical gymnastics. Oh, and another thing, there are lots of unusual stylistic influences heard along the way; a little classical, a little blues, a little this and a little that, it all makes these compositions that much more interesting. Sweet melodies are bolstered by a variety of complex instrument arrangements and performance that arenít afraid to swiftly shift gears. The whole album has a wonderfully full, theatrical sound, nicely orchestrated feel that is so satisfying. Then it all comes back to the piano, on its own to pick up the musical thread. As I say these are marvelous little pocket-symphonies full of drama, mystery and thrilling resolutions. Without question the five years was put to good use as Book II is a winner in my books. Highly recommended.