From Prognaut.com | October 26, 2010
Reviewed by: Ron Fuchs
FOREVER TWELVE, Taking Forever
Artist/ Band: Forever Twelve
Title: Taking Forever
Label: Self release
Year of Release: 2010
It's been 6 long years since the last album from Forever Twelve was released. I'm sure the fans have been wondering whether or not the band was still together. I know I was until keyboardist Steve Barberic sent me a copy in the mail. So now in 2010, they released their 3rd album appropriately called Taking Forever. The line-up hasn't changed and remains Cat Ellen (vocals, flute), Kenny Hundt (Bass), Steve Barberic (Keyboards), Fernando Martinez (Drums), and Tom Graham (Guitars).
Starting off the album is "To The Hill" (8:41) and a perfect opening track if there was ever one. There's a mixture of classic and modern progressive rock. The band is in top form here and the vocals are amazing. The vocals start around the 3 minute mark. I feel Cat has topped herself with her voice. To me, she sounds better in 2010 than she did in the past.
The tempo continues on "Vanishing Us" (5:01) until the vocals start. Then vocals are accompanied by some beautiful piano playing. The rest of the band kicks in a few minutes later. The music has a classic late 70's, early 80's feel to it. This is one of my favorites of the album.
Then we have the title track, "Taking Forever" (7:07), which has a nice jazzy intro. The vocals comes in around the 2 minute mark. I hear a slight Genesis/Yes influence here but with female vocals.
Next up is "Nada Devi" (5:11), which starts out with acoustic guitar and piano accompanied by vocals. A very dreamy melancholy song. There are some tasty electric guitar solo parts. This is another of my favorites.
The first instrumental of the album is "Vita Decessus" (6:26). It has an up beat vibe that reminds me of late 70's Genesis. There's also a nod to the early 80's symphonic and neo-prog bands that had instrumental songs. It's very cinematic at times. Towards the end it has a Yes vibe.
The intro of "Wake Up" (3:58) has a bass line that would attract fans of Chris Squire. There's a duet of male and female vocals. The male vocals could be either Tom Graham (guitars) and/or Kenny Hundt (bass), which adds some contrast to the song. The outro segues right into "With You" (6:42). This is the most modern sounding of the songs and my favorite. It's a happy sounding song with beautiful vocals and instrumentation. Just simply a beautiful prog song.
On "Existence" (7:26), the music remind me of early 80's neo-prog and a modern vibe woven in. The vocals again are a female/male duet in some parts. There's some very nice instrumentation on this song and goes through many changes within the duration while never stretching out too thin.
Ending off the album is the second instrumental piece, "Fine Glass" (7:44). It has a dreamy quality by way of the keyboards and is balanced by tasty, never out staying it's welcome, guitar leads. There are some nods to Genesis and Yes within the song. The instrumentation is very original and a perfect way to end off a great album.
The band made available some bonus tracks that can be downloaded from the band's website. These songs that for some reason didn't fit the flow of the album. Rather than having two editions, a standard and limited/special etc., the band decided to make these bonus tracks available online.
Starting off the bonus tracks is very progressive and jazzy song called "Battery" (6:23), which in my opinion should have been included in the album "Taking Forever." "Here We Go" (4:39) in a perfect world, it has "single" written all over it.
Closing out the bonus tracks is "Sex Dream" (6:06), and by far the darkest sounding of the band's overall catalog. There's a modern vibe going here. In fact it reminds me of another female fronted band called Leger De Main.
Of all the female fronted bands of the day, Forever Twelve is one of the more original and unique sounding. They retain a raw feel which is perfect because there are so many slick productions out there. So if you like your prog done in a classic yet modern form, than look no further that Forever Twelve and their "Taking Forever" release. Highly recommended!
– Ron Fuchs
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From Progression 50 | Summer/Fall 2006
Reviewed by: David Layton
FOREVER TWELVE, GLASS: Live at Suzy's Bar and Grill, Hermosa Beach, Calif.; Dec. 10, 2005
Suzy's Bar and Grill, a small restaurant/bar located in a mini-mall in an upscale district of Los Angeles, is not the most likely place for an evening of progressive rock. However, it provided an intimate venue for a small coterie to get up close with two prog bands seeking to raise their profiles.
It was surprising that some 30 people showed for the music, given that this gig was hastily rescheduled from the previous week. The two bands made for an interesting contrast. On the one hand, Forever Twelve plays a classic symphonic style of progressive rock, recalling '70s Italian bands such as Locanda Delle Fate and Celeste. On the other hand, Glass strives for a cool, jazzy, entirely instrumental prog reminiscent of Soft Machine circa 1970-'72.
The Los Angeles area has spawned several very good progressive rock acts the last decade or so – notables including Spock's Beard, Ten Jinn, and Rocket Scientists. Forever Twelve also is quite worthy of attention, though so far its notoriety has not been as great. The band's two self-produced CDs are worthy of more attention than so far achieved.
Forever Twelve's set consisted of four songs from the second album, three from the first, and a brand-new piece publicly revealed for the first time at this show. One very apparent difference is that live, this band has much moreoomph. The music was highlighted by sharply contrasting dynamics and plenty of precise syncopation. They opened without announcement, jumping into "Brown Cloud" with what seemed to be a standard rock guitar-led intro that suddenly veered into prog territory. That was followed by "Mouse," a longer, more intricate piece; the introspective "Keep It Alive," and then the most overtly progressive piece of the evening, "Spark of Light" (all from the Spark of Light CD). Because of its dramatic ending, this perhaps should have been saved for the closing number.
The band's first album, Remembrance Branch, was represented by "Victor's Eye," the closest to what some might term neo-prog; "Slogans of Compliance," which exploited stark contracts between loud and hushed; and the avant-garde-ish "The Quest." A new track, "Sex Dream," was the show's darkest piece in mood and arrangement.
Early in the set it was hard to hear Cat Ellen's vocals, but this problem got rectified. Keyboardist Steve Barberic plays in an unabashedly classic prog style, his synthesizer solos following the Tony Banks pattern of arpeggios and triplets. Guitarist Tom Graham's playing comes across as a mix of Steve Howe and Gary Green from Gentle Giant, employing melodic accompaniment and angular leads. The band played well together, and the audience was clearly pleased by what it heard.
After a 15-minute break Glass took the stage, using some of Forever Twelve's equipment to save time. This trio originated in Washington State in the early 1970's, but released recording from those years in 2000 via No Stranger To the Skies and No Stranger To the Skies, Vol. III. Since then, two of the three members have moved to southern California; drummer Jerry Cook flew down from Washington just for this show.
Glass's set was a mixture of material from the first CD and the new, third album, Illuminations. The opening piece, "Overture," immediately declared this band's forte – bass-as-lead contrasting the introspective keyboards of Greg Sherman. That piece, like many Glass tracks, worked by slow buildup and careful repetition. Consequently, Glass's music is more "classical" than many bands striving for a blatantly classical sound. The new album also was represented by "Falling," a short, piano-oriented work demonstrating the one-handed Greg Sherman's skill at making small sound large, and a medley, "The Awakening Set."
No Stranger To the Skies Vol. I was represented by "Domino," a piece reflecting the interlocking arpeggios on electric piano motif pioneered by Soft Machine, and one of my favorite Glass pieces, "The Myopic Stream," with its fascinating multiple contrasts. Glass also played "The Catch" from No Stranger To the Skies Vol. III. Like Forever Twelve, the band presented a new piece, "Dedicated to Mike" (presumably Soft Machine's Mike Ratledge). Throughout the set, bass and keyboard player Jeff Sherman would chat with the audience, making up for the lack of direct audience contact that a singer normally would provide.
It's sad that this even was not promoted enough to fill the venue. Los Angeles is somewhat less accommodating to live prog than cities on the East Coast, but this audience was loyal and responsive.
– David Layton
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Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, August 2005
FOREVER TWELVE: Spark of Light
Cat. No.: FT-04-02
Total Time: 57:41
This will reveal how long this CD has been awaiting review - Cat Ellen (vocals, flute) gave this to me to review at CalProg. CalProg 2004, that is. Yes, more than a year ago now, and it was new then. And I've been playing it off and on at least over the past year, never quite getting to where I was ready to review it. Not that I didn't have anything to say, but not sure of everything I wanted to say - all of it good. In fact, I've been playing this CD a lot - and I mean a lot - such that just thinking about it has it going through my head. Does that mean instantly that this is a great CD? Well, no. Well, it is, but not just because I can't get it out of my head.
Forever Twelve are an American progressive rock band in the mold of Echolyn, and more so one of their short-lived offshoots, Finneus Gauge (especially on the first song "Rama"). Except I like the vocals here better than on One Inch Of The Fall. And while I’m sure this is not what Cat would want to hear, she often sounds like Madonna. Wait, wait, before you start protesting that comparison and writing me nasty letters, I don’t mean she sings like Madonna - nothing here sounds like “Lucky Star” or “Borderline” or uh, like “Like A Virgin.” What I mean is that her tone is um… Madonna-ish. When Cat doesn’t sound like Madonna, she reminds me of many female prog vocalists - Karin Nicely of Persephone's Dream, for instance. Though, having said that, I do have say that there's a particular phrase delivery in "Mouse" that reminds of "La Isla Bonita" ... without all the Latin-music-isms. There's just a particular vocal phrase that... erm... sent off echoes. Okay, I bet if Madonna did ever really record a prog album, it might sound like this...*
So, anyway, Forever Twelve are an American prog band with lotsa parpy (proggy) keyboards (Steve Barberic), tart, sinewy, fiery, nuanced guitar lines (Tom Graham), deeply throbbing bass (Kenny Hundt), powerful, dynamic drumming (Fernando Martinez), and the mostly warm vocals of Cat. It's hard to describe any piece as being any one thing as each has various and contrasting movements... but each are natural evolutions. Forever Twelve don't draw from one well, or even from one genre... as you can find elements of jazz, folk, rock, fusion, neo-prog, classical and pop all used to serve a musical purpose, express a certain mood or idea. As I said, each naturally flows into the other. Nothing really seems forced. And pieces are a mix of vocal and instrumental. It's not a strong release throughout, as there are some parts that I wish were smoother, or approached differently, but I think with subsequent releases, the quintet will get the mix and balance right and they'll tighten up a bit.
On the first track, "Rama," Barberic goes from very gothic tones to something high and reedy and flute-like (don't think it's Cat on flute, though) that are Emersonian in phrasing, only the sharp edges have been smoothed out. It wasn't until I really listened to this piece that I got why they called themselves Forever Twelve (and maybe it was clear on their debut Remembrance Branch). It's a magical age, really... and I think in the context of this song signals a certain period of innocence, when this quintet were 12 in the mid-to-late 70s (some a tad earlier than that). I was 12 then (1979) and uh... yes, I'd go back to that time myself... This piece takes that idea and sets it against a "post-9/11" world... which wasn't really the start of something, but rather the culmination. I mean, in 1979 we were focused on the Iran Hostage Crisis (I can still see yellow ribbons tied around the trees at my school). But also, 12 is the last year before one enters their teens, a semantic bridge between childhood and young adulthood. I turned 13 and suddenly I was too old for those things that were okay at 12... enough about me.
"Spark Of Light" is balladic, but also a piece that at times made me think of a lighter, early period Marillion (circa Script...). By lighter I mean lighter toned parpy keyboards, sweeter guitar leads that more Howe-like than Rothery (or Hackett) like - or, in some ways, more like Italian prog. The "lightest" element being the lilting vocals. Take "Script..." or "The Web" and strip away all the dark cynicism, moodiness and such, paint a few pastel strokes - some nice acoustic guitar work here, by the way. The song is dark lyrically - though in a way far different from the Marillion references. There are also a few um... Misplaced... touches, too. The snickering percussion, the keyboard phrases at 8-plus minutes in all flirt with MC, and then don't go there at all, which is just fine.
Hundt's bass and Martinez' drums are very prominent in the mix of "Brown Cloud," where they take the lead playing a bouncy, choppy rhythm. At least during the first portion of the song, this balance seems odd since Graham is playing a fiery and fuzzed guitar lead that is instead set too far back in the mix. In the next part, it's Barberic's parpy keys that take the lead compositionally, but drums and bass are still mixed up front. Only Cat's vocals sit ahead enough that the balance there is correct. That "Brown Cloud" is, surely, the haze that blankets Los Angeles (as FT are based in Ventura, which is north of LA). That as a microcosm to what we're doing to the environment globally, of course. For such a gloomy topic, this is such a musically upbeat and cheerful sounding piece, when it isn't lilting.
"Mouse" goes from lilting to snarlying earthy and sarcastically sultry, vocally and immediately echoed by a brief guitar solo from Graham that prances around tauntingly - thematically the protagonist sings about having gone from timid to bold in her life (mouse to lion). We then get one of many instrumental interludes, where Barbaric and Graham stretch out... before bringing it back in.
Barberic plays a delicate but not timid rolling piano solo to open "Life Changes," which is soon joined by breathy flute. Then a tentative bass and percussion toy with breaking loose. They don't; instead we get a piano and guitar duet that made me think a moment of Christopher Cross (various pieces, one of them "Arthur"). If you can imagine a reflective sunset, this is the part of the song that would paint the picture - both in soothing oranges (vocals, keys) and angry reds (guitars, percussion, piano in a jazzy fashion). It's the longest track at 15-plus minutes (and bits of earlier pieces are echoed here in small hints).
"Keep It Alive" seems at first to be the mellowest piece, beginning as an acoustic based composition that could be described as a mix of Yes (especially Graham's guitar playing) and Crosby, Stills and Nash (the vocal harmonies). When Graham goes electric, and the heavy percussion and keyboards are added, we get a busy (in a good way), complex piece, with Cat's vocals and flute fitting in perfectly.
I said that this CD is great and that's overstating it just a bit. It's very good, though there are some weaknesses - the balance on "Brown Cloud" for instance, some muddied and not-pleasing to the ear harmonized vocals on "Life Changes." Yet, despite those flaws, I've very much enjoyed listening to it (as I said, the songs rattle around in my head, mostly "Brown Cloud" and "Mouse").
* By the way, Madonna does have a prog connection ... Patrick Leonard wrote material that Madonna has sung (some co-written with Richard Page (Mr. Mister), with whom he recorded the sole 3rd Matinee CD). Leonard was the other half of Toy Matinee (pre-cursor to 3rd Matinee) with Kevin Gilbert. And, to take it further, Kevin Gilbert worked with Spock's Beard... whose drummer recorded with Genesis.
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The Review Translated by Google: http://tinyurl.com/7acme
If you happen to know an English-Portuguese translator, we would be interested in a personal translation of this review. But you have to admit, the Google translation is somewhat amusing. — Cat Ellen
The Original Portuguese Review:
Forever Twelve - Spark of Light - Independente - 2004
A banda norte-americana da Califórnia, o Forever Twelve vem com um bom segundo disco. O primeiro, que foi lançado pela Musea, repercutiu muito bem no ano passado e o seu show no Baja Prog de 2004 foi o ponto alto do dia 04/03. Mantendo a mesma linha do trabalho anterior: muito violão, bons teclados (mellotron, moog etc), vocal feminino cristalino da simpática Cat Ellen (não, a sua voz não lembra a Annie Haslam), flautas bem tocadas (ouça a segunda música), guitarras choradas (a la Camel) com assinaturas a la Yes , um baixo quase perfeito (ouça a primeira música) e a bateria que não deixa nenhum instrumento na mão, a banda alça um vôo ainda mais alto e merecia ter este trabalho lançado por um selo progressivo tradicional. Um disco que foge completamente da escola tradicional norte-americana e mergulha de cabeça num estilo próprio. Falta muito pouco para se atingir a maturidade. muito legal o encarte com fotos da infância dos componentes. Se fosse o caso de estabelecer uma escala de 0 a 10, eu daria 9.
Composição e músicas - Bom
Produção e gravação - Bom
Bandas relacionadas: Yes, Camel e Focus
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From Progression, Issue 47, Summer/Fall 2004
Reviewed by John Collinge, Publisher/Editor
FOREVER TWELVE: Spark of Light 2004 (CD, 59:20); independent release FT-04-02 Style: Progressive rock Sound: *** Composition: *** Musicianship: *** Performance: *** 1/2
Total rating: 12 1/2
Forever Twelve is a Los Angeles-area band that hangs out primarily in melodic-symphonic prog territory, but tends to throw you the occasional dissonant curve. With only six tracks, five of them surpassing eight minutes, there's a lot going on arrangement-wise. Things hang together fairly well throughout, with the occasional Genesis influence informing a generally "traditional," '70s prog orientation.
I liked the (sampled?) cello and acoustic guitar passage on the 10-minute title track, which gives way to a lyrical Tom Graham guitar solo followed by stirring synth lines courtesy of Steve Barberic. That pattern of solo tradeoffs recurs to varying degrees throughout this work.
Forever Twelve is a versatile bunch: Graham also plays keyboards and sings backing vocals, Kenny Hundt plays bass, keys and sings, while lead vocalist Cat Ellen doubles on flute. Drums/percussion are handled by Fernando Martinez.
Ellen has a warm, saucy edge to her voice that's sort of unique. Her mates' backup singing blends well. The more I hear of Spark of Light, the more I like it — and isn't that what progressive rock's all about? — John Collinge
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From Exposé, Issue 30, September 2004
Reviewed by Jim Chokey
Forever Twelve — "Spark of Light"
(private release FT-04-02, 2004, CD)
Spark of Light is the second CD by L.A. quintet Forever Twelve. I've not heard their debut, Remembrance Branch[reviewed in Exposé #24], so I can't say how the new album stands in relation. I can attest, however, that its six long tracks (between 7–15 minutes) are compelling compositions rooted in a classic 70s' symphonic sound. The retro sound is achieved not only through the ample use of vintage keyboards (especially Mellotron and mini-Moog), but in the songs and arrangements, which are all but textbook examples of the classic symphonic sound with their suite-like structures, classical-influenced piano melodies, and regular juxtapositions of gentle, acoustic passages with aggressive electrified parts. By way of comparison, I'm reminded of Epidaurus — or perhaps of contemporary band Magenta (minus the neo-influences). That said, Cat Ellen's vocals is neither as powerful nor as lilting as the singers of either of those bands; her talents are most effectively displayed through slower, melodic lines; when she tries to add a bit more of a spirited growl or wail, she seems to be straining. Occasional flute parts (also played by Ellen) also evoke the feel of some of the mellower material from the first few Crimson albums. Of the other musicians, the two standouts are keyboardist Steve Barberic and guitarist Tom Graham, whose ornate acoustic guitar lines are among the disk's greatest strengths. Fans of old-school symphonic — and female vocals — should really dig Spark of Light. – Jim Chokey
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From ProgNaut.com, May 13th, 2004
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs
Forever Twelve — "Spark of Light"
Forever Twelve returns two years later with the follow-up to Remembrance Branch called Spark of Light. To truly appreciate this band’s music, one must remember the days in which progressive rock wasn’t associated with the heavy metal thrash and chugga-chugga guitar work (not that it’s a bad thing). To my ears Forever Twelve could have belonged very nicely back in the mid-70's but they’re from now and pay homage to those wonderful days when prog was young.
Just like in their first release, there is no "new" ground broken but again they do make up for it with their sound and energy. I wouldn’t say that Spark of Light is better than Remembrance Branch, rather a next step in their evolution in song writing and instrumentation. I think the best is yet to come.
Help Forever Twelve keep their spirt of progressive rock alive and buy a copy today, it’ll make a worthy addition to your collection! – Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on May 13th, 2004
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From iO Pages, a Dutch prog-rock magazine, nr. 40, September 2002
Reviewed by: Erik Neuteboom
Translation: Rob Hanemaayer
Forever Twelve — "Remembrance Branch"
The Translated Review:
This American quintet has given me an hour filled with fine progressive music. The eight compositions (between 5 and 14 minutes) have got a warm sound, good ideas and plenty of variation. Particularly the combined playing of the keyboards and the guitar sounds strong and solid, but also the changes from dreamy parts into fluent rhythms are well done. The female singer has a nice voice but sometimes she should have sounded a bit more powerful. Though the general level of this CD is very much acceptable, the second part sounds like it has been worked out with more refinement. Beautiful pieces with classical piano, fine keyboard parts, fierce guitar and a lot of variation in the longest track "Victor’s Eye" (over 13 minutes), a fluent and pounding rhythm with beautiful synthesizer patterns and heavy basspedals in "Burning Ink," divine keyboards (from sparkling piano to majestic choir-Mellotron) in the Marillion-like "Slogans Of Compliance" and Gregorian vocals (intro) and strong combined keyboard/guitar-playing in closing track "The Quest." This band has made a real fine debut-album with warm, 24-carat progrock which should especially appeal to fans of Marillion, Clepsydra or Flamborough Head. They still need to grow a bit in composing, because you can hear some compositions don’t sound supple enough. But it’s a very promising band, maybe their next album will be CD of the month.
The Original Dutch Review:
Dit Amerikaanse kwintet heeft me een aangenaam uurtje symfo plezier bezorgd. De acht composities (tussen 5 en 14 minuten) bevatten een warm geluid, goede ideeën en de nodige afwisseling. Met name het samenspel van toetsen en gitaar klinkt meeslepend maar ook de overgangen van dromerig naar vlotte ritmes mogen er zijn. De zangeres heeft een prettige stem maar soms mag het iets krachtiger. Hoewel ik het nivo van deze CD over de hele lijn zeer acceptabel vind, komt het tweede deel wat verfijnder uitgewerkt over. Mooie stukken klassieke piano, fraaie toetsen, felle gitaar en veel afwisseling in het langste nummer Victor’s Eye (ruim 13 minuten), een vlot en stuwend ritme met mooie synthesizer riedels en vette baspedalen in Burning Ink, zalige toetsen (van sprankelende piano tot majestueuze koor-Mellotron) in het Marillion-achtige Slogan’s Of Compliance en Gregoriaanse zang (intro) en sterk samenspel toetsen/gitaar in het afsluitende The Quest. Deze band heeft een heerlijke debuut-CD gemaakt met warme, 24-karaat symfo die vooral de liefhebbers van het oude Marillion, Clepsydra of Flamborough Head zal aanspreken. Wel moet men nog groeien in het maken van composities die soms wat ‘charmant houterig’ overkomen. Desalniettemin een veelbelovende band, volgende CD een Vette Krent? Website: http://www.forevertwelve.com.
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From Prognaut.com, August 17, 2002
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs
Forever Twelve — "Remembrance Branch"
Forever Twelve is a five-piece progressive rock band from Los Angeles, California. Their symphonic progressive sound includes gorgeous female lead vocals, vintage keyboards, both electric and acoustic guitars, electric bass, and complex drums and percussion.
The songs on "Remembrance Branch" range from intense rocking to gentle interludes, feature lots of time signature changes, and have several extended instrumental sections.
This CD is the band's first, and was self-produced. These original songs show influences by Genesis, Yes, Camel, and Rush, among others.
Although there is no "new" ground broken here, their sound and energy truly pays homage to the prog giants that came before them.
"Remembrance Branch" IS highly recommended and on my best of 2002 releases so far, you really can't go wrong here folks... click on the CD cover above and support this great band by getting a copy of this magnificent debut!
~Ron for ProgNaut.com [August 17th, 2002]
Comments from Ron:
"I am honored to be the first online review site to review Forever Twelve and to think it's a locally based site too makes it more special to me that I got to review such a great CD."
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From Exposé, Issue 24, April 2002
Reviewed by Mike Grimes of Puppetshow
Forever Twelve — "Remembrance Branch"
(Independent Release, 2002, CD)
I wonder if they're named after the Johnnie Morris poem? Forever Twelve is a five-piece retro-sounding symphonic progressive rock band from Los Angeles. Though this is their first release, the nucleus of the group has been together since 1994 and the current line-up since 2000. The compositions have lots of time signature changes and multiple sections, and the music ranges from slow groove-paced to some blazing parts. The keyboard solo at the end of "Edge of Reality" is a good example of the latter. Lead vocalist Cat Ellen's style is very somber and almost melancholy. This delivery fits the lyrics though. Tom Graham's guitar sounds a lot like Hackett in songs like "Innocence" and parts of "Victor's Eye" especially. The feel of the music is certainly more than a bit Genesis-like at times. It's interesting that while the music definitely has lots of complex aspects, the vocal sections tend to be more straightforward. Though all the songs have vocals, there are long instrumental sections in most every song. The acoustic guitar parts in "Burning Ink" and "Slogan's of Compliance" are cool and the electric guitar solo in the former is good too. Guitarist Tom Graham plays some interesting chords and voicings in many of the tunes actually. Keyboardist Steve Barberic is probably the most prominently featured musician on the album and plays lots of vintage sounds, from analog strings to Mellotron to Moog. Those who enjoy classic symphonic style with softer female vocals will want to check this out." – Mike Grimes