This November sees the release of the second instalment of the Cyan story. If you recall, this project saw the resurrection of an album and concepts from the very earliest years in Robert Reed’s musical journey and development where Rob and his school friends made an album that was actually released in the 1990’s on a small dutch label that allowed further parts to be released. Although Rob felt that these releases fell somewhat short of how he saw the album should have been envisioned.
To this end, when Rob decided to update the concept afresh with a more competent and rewritten version, he enlisted the talents of Peter Jones, Luke Machin and Dan Nelson, with Rob himself handling the keyboards and other things like production. ‘Pictures From The Other Side’ continues that journey and, again, the original source material benefits both from a 2023 production and also the reimagining and experience that has been gained the last 30 years.
The album has just six tracks, including the epic Nosferatu, opening with an extremely strong and compelling opening track, Broken Man, which allows Peter Jones to sing and channel his inner Gabriel. The track begins with what sounds remarkably like Uilleann pipes but is probably more likely to be Peter’s whistles or something similar, this is accompanied with a soaring guitar line from Luke Machin that takes the track forward in style. The song has great backing vocals from Angharad Brinn ( who featured on the Kompendium album from 2013) and also benefits from the athletic and agile bass playing of Dan Nelson, who is all across this track, adding solid and expressive support. When Machin’s guitar lets fly it really warms the heart to hear this marvellous collective really making an impact and allowing the song to really flow. The vocals are very much like Peter Gabriel and, again, this really makes a strong and favourable impression, in conjunction with Angharad Brinn, this all sounds really strong and enticing, especially when you factor in the fabulous music that Cyan offer as a unit. It is very imaginative, well nuanced and textured with an expansive sound and simply excellent musicianship from all parties involved, a stunning opener all told. Title track Pictures From The Other Side opens with gentle piano lines before the band join in and a jazzy saxophone plays in tandem with the vocals. The song sings of stories from the other side of life, although what that actually means is a little abstract and unclear. It is another excellent song though, relatively short but with a strong keyboard part in the mid section and some classy saxophone lines before a sweeping Luke Machin guitar line plays out over Rob’s keyboards. This has great dynamics to it, an ethereal vocal from Angharad taking centre stage as the song moves forward. There are some fabulous guitar parts within this song and, again, it really makes an impact. The track ends on a syncopated jazzy section with guitar, keyboards and sax all playing their parts to perfection, another winner!
Solitary Angel is a more restrained piece really although, again, it builds well in its intensity and does allow room for more of Luke Machin’s flights of fingers and notes to occur. That takes the track to greater heights, Machin really lives up to his growing recognition and skills here. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this young man grow, not just in his confidence, but also in his abilities, to become the valued player that he is. This understated song has real class and adds a testament to the strengths that the group possess and display so well. The wistful and poignant Follow The Flow is a bewitching and beguiling piece of music that focuses on the twin strengths of Peter’s vocal and Rob’s piano playing to deliver just shy of four minutes of musical wonder. Once again Angharad’s beautiful, touching voice adds to what is a marvellous musical brief encounter. Tomorrow’s Here Today starts with an acoustic guitar alongside a fine vocal from Peter Jones and ethereal vocals from Angharad Brinn, who really add to this slow burn of a track as their voices blend really well and expressively. Deep keyboards are employed to add to the atmosphere and the dynamics as a synth solo is performed by Rob and, as Luke Machin joins in the fun, the song gathers pace and urgency and becomes a platform for swapping solos before returning to the previous mood. I really like this track and its use of dynamics to convey its points.
The final song of the album, Nosferatu, is also the longest at just shy of eighteen minutes in duration. Nosferatu is a reference to vampirism like Dracula but with its roots further back to Roman times in Transylvania and that region of the world. It’s all very Gothic and removed from Whitby and the Dracula legend of today. This has a gothic horror element to it but it is all done with a degree of reverence and respect. The elongated running time gives room for the track to breathe, expand and explore the themes more fully and this means lots of spaces for Robs expressive keyboards, Luke’s fiery guitar and Dan’s solid bass and gives them all the ability to have room to breathe, Angharad Brinn especially gets the opportunity to shine here. There is a definite strident section that really works well before the song returns to a more gentle feel part and then Luke’s defining guitar break takes the listener on a flight of wonder, the closing moments are especially strong with real pace and urgency to them as Peter ushers in the morning sun to dispel the vampires. This is a class ending to what is a very accomplished album of strong material.
In a year that has seen some excellent releases this one can easily be added as one of the year better ones. A real treat and one that most definitely warrants inspection and deserves being heard by as many as possible as it contains much very fine music and strong performances from Cyan.
Here’s to the next part of the story!
Released 17th November, 2023.
Order the album here: