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Fusion Orchestra 2 - 'Casting Shadows' http://mail.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/a2/04/43/fs-87-1401499389.jpg Hot

Added by Franco     May 31, 2014    
 
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An exciting new line-up which has delivered an album that is simply delightful.

Fusion Orchestra 2 is the second coming of the band previously known as Fusion Orchestra (see what they did there?), who released an album for EMI ('Skeleton In Armour') way back in 1973. Only one founding member remains, guitarist Col Dawson, but along with keyboard player Ben Bell, he's put together an exciting new line-up which has delivered an album that is simply delightful.

'Casting Shadows' features a fascinating mix of short, classically inspired musical interludes and three extended tracks that blend Progressive Rock, Classic Rock, Jazz and Blues influences. 'Don't Forget Your Key', a short classical piano piece, sets the tone and segues straight into the first extended track, 'Leaving It All Behind'. From the Schenker-esque riff about one minute twenty seconds in, I was hooked. Of particular note are Bell's imaginative keyboard playing, and the fresh and rousing vocals of "self-taught" singer, Elsie Lovelock. I played the album before I read the promo material so Lovelock's voice took me completely by surprise (and very pleasantly so).

The quality of the material and interplay between band members is maintained throughout. 'Cider Sue', the second long track, is a standout – a jerky, quirky number requiring considerable vocal dexterity during the chorus that's delivered with aplomb. Song-writing credits are attributed to Dawson, Bell and the non-performing Jo Holland, with Holland also contributing all the lyrics.

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In short, 'Casting Shadows' is a thoroughly pleasant surprise and a really enjoyable listen. Musically there is a lot going on throughout. You can hear every instrument, there are lots of twists and turns, and there are lots of different styles and influences at work. It's an album of real character and its great fun. And at the end of the day, it's hard to knock a Prog band with a bass player who goes by the name of Shemski and a drummer called Seex Dyer!.

Michael Anthony

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