Here’s a chance to hear classic Glass Hammer songs freshly recorded and infused with freshness and new energy
A Matter of Time Volume I
11 tracks 66:51
Nashville, Tennessee has a well-known musical reputation, but what about Chattanooga? Sure, there was that Choo-Choo thing, but Chattanooga also gave us Glass Hammer, the much-loved progressive rock band founded by Steve Babb and Fred Schendel. So what do you do when you have a 32 year legacy of finely-crafted, intricately-arranged musical compositions featuring literate, poetic lyrics and outstanding musicianship? Well, if you’re Babb and Schendel, you look over your early works, pick your favorites, and re-record them ‘from the ground up.’ Then you offer the results in state-of-the-art formats to produce the best possible listening experience. The end result is an excellent album, thanks to the right song choices, impeccable sonics, and the genuinely engaging new performances. This is not a compilation - it’s a new album, with new energy infused into older compositions. Three decades of musical growth is significant, and the confidence and artistic maturity gained over those years shows in these performances. This is an idea that other long standing groups (Procol Harum, anyone?) might also want to explore.
Steve Babb (vocals, bass, keyboards) and Fred Schendel (vocals, keyboards and guitars) are joined by Glass Hammer regular, Aaron Raulston on drums and guest appearances by Hannah Pryor (vocals), Reese Boyd (guitar on “Llusion” and “Song of the Dunaden”), Walter Moore (vocals on “The Mayor of Longview” and “Heaven,” and vocals and guitar on “On to Evermore” and “Junkyard Angels”) and Dave Bainbridge (guitar on “Heaven”). The wonderful performances can be downloaded in any of these formats: 2496 Hi-Res WAV files, CD quality WAV files, or 320 kbps MP3 files. The layers of instrumentation are crisp and clear, with amazing aural presence. Everything is engineered, balanced, and separated with careful attention to the soundstage.
Unhindered by the burden of a ‘concept,’ A Matter of Time Volume I moves along from track to track effortlessly. The song choices work together to sound like a fresh, new project - very easy to enjoy on its own terms. Along with the usual articulate, powerful, driving ‘Babb bass’ and the rich, textured keyboards by Schendel (am I hearing some After the Fire influence on some of the soloing?) there are lots of memorable moments generously given to the guest artists. Reese Boyd’s guitar solo on the coda of “Lliusion” is breathtaking, as is Walter Moore’s spectacular fretwork on the fade of “Junkyard Angels.” Four of the eleven tracks are instrumentals, with tremendous momentum on the wonderfully structured “The Return of The King” sounding bright and newly-polished. “Felix the Cat” is a pleasure, providing a tasty Baroque-rock diversion with a hint of whimsy, and with many tasty moments. The Focus-like opening of “Heaven” is a great closer to the project, with heavy, gothic organ, an epic prog feel and, of course, the guitar of the legendary Dave Bainbridge. Kudos to Aaron Raulston for consistently effective drumming throughout - he provides the power and tech ability without grandstanding! The vocals serve the other seven songs well, only occasionally sounding like the middle of a bigger story (which - in most cases - is the case), but never sounding out of place.
A Matter of Time Volume I is an interesting experiment and it worked! Babb and Schendel have produced a project that sounds fresh and energized - an album that should please new and old fans alike. For those who find it a little emotionally daunting to absorb these songs in the context of their original settings, here’s a chance to just enjoy them on their own terms as great stand-alone compositions, performed with fresh excitement, virtuosity and energy!
- Bert Saraco
4 1/2 tocks - add a tock if you’re into prog
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