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Ascension Day
Artist: Alan Draper
Label: UK indie
Length: 13 tracks/38.10

Alan Draper admits to an obsession with progressive music, and that is more than clear on this compilation of songs recorded over the past fifteen years. The music almost serves as a look back over the past millennium, drawing from plainsong and poetry of the 12th century and on through many of the intervening musical movements, but is melded carefully together to form a mesh of the sort only found in our postmodern society.

The thing that distinguishes Draper's work from many of his progressive rock influences is the length of the songs. Only one track, the closing "Pilgrim's Way", stretches past the five minute mark, and the album benefits from that as the ideas are given enough time to develop but not stretched thinly across epic soundscapes.

Many listeners will recognize snatches of melodies as Draper borrows frequently from well known pieces. Particularly noticeable is the arrangement of the hymn "He Would Valiant Be" built into "Pilgrim's Way" and announced by the guitar work of John Howard who lends his instrumental contributions to a number of these tracks.

The sound and production are perhaps the weakest link in the chain, although the age of some of the recordings must be remembered given the advances in home studios in the past few years. A little more clarity and a cleaner production would help this record immensely, but it is nevertheless an interesting melding of timeless melodies.

James Stewart 3/27/2000


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