Another month starts and another CD arrives from the uber-prolific Geof Whitely Project, an artist who literally has songs pouring out of him and who must commit these to CD and on record.
Arny Wheatley (the man behind the project) has to tread a fine line and make sure he doesn’t just release any old song that has popped into his head. They’ve got to appeal to the listener and be well crafted pieces of music. Well, to my ears, he’s been doing an excellent job so far but, as every new album arrives, I do wonder how long he can keep it up?
Arny describes the project thus:
‘The Geof Whitely Project was formed in 2011, it consists of Geof Whitely and special guest Musicians, the aim of the project is to put out original material in all types of musical formats from Prog Rock-Rock-Pop-Electronic-Instrumental.
All albums will contain a mix of such musical songs, there’s surely one that will appeal to everyone..’
This time it’s ‘The Blessed And The Damned’ that has arrived at Progradar Towers for consideration and it wowed me immediately with the striking artwork, which has always been a feature of any album from the Geof Whitely Project.
Arny’s music has been progressing across the last couple of releases so I was very intrigued to see what this new album would deliver…
This new album has a much darker feel which starts with the opening and title track. The Blessed And The Damned has a suspenseful and ominous extended opening before the vocals kick in with a very sinister note. Small rays of light are delivered by the elegant guitar but the excellent synth and insistent drums always give the song a chilling tone. It’s a further departure from that elegant, laid back sound that I’d always associated with the band and I, for one, like the direction Arny is going in. There’s a great, melodramatic guitar solo that adds even more atmosphere and, overall, I’m pretty impressed by what I’ve heard so far. Lucid Dream carries that theme on with quite a chilling intro, a darkly striking, subdued, keyboard note underpins the measured vocal, delivered in an emotional, supernatural tone before the warmth seeps in for the elegant chorus. There’s this Ying and Yang between the harsher edge of the verse and that more affable chorus that runs throughout the song and gives it a certain gravitas.
A Music Hall/Circus melody introduces The House Of Spirits but I can’t get away from that sinister overtone, like it’s being played by one of those evil clowns from IT, it works really well though and the chaotic noises that are thrown in just give it a really disorienting feel. The keyboards break through this to give some authority and then the mesmerising instrumental is broken as the vocals break in, quite pressing and persuasive and I end up feeling like I’m in the middle of a musical version of one of Stephen King’s more disturbing novels. This is some really clever and inventive songwriting and just goes to show how the Geof Whitely Project are progressing as a musical act. Walking Through Time is a perfect title for the next song as I feel I’ve been transported back to the 80’s by that brilliant keyboard/synth sound and the aggressive guitar riff. There’s a sci-fi feel to it all but in a 2001: a Space Odyssey way rather than something more up-to-date. A great piece of music that washes over you, it even leaves me nostalgic for that era and everything it had, good or bad, and that is really original.
That 80’s nostalgic tone is present in the the weighty opening to Bird On A Wire, a contemplative and determined track with melancholic vocals and a serious overtone. A pensive and sombre sounding song but one that is well written and meaningful in its delivery. I really like the overall vibe that comes from the track and the added thoughtfulness it engenders. There’s a harder rocking edge to Walk The Line with an up-tempo instrumental opening that has a police siren persistence in the background. The vocals are compelling with a introspective undertone, again I get the feel of the 80’s around this song, albeit in a more soft-rock vein. This is enhanced even more so by the engrossing solo-heavy instrumental mid-section, Arny seems to have become a lot more reflective in his songwriting.
A much more expansive sounding intro heralds Utopian Vision, a song with a seemingly bigger musical vista and soundscape. Again that wistful and nostalgic reflection is at the core of the track and it leaves me thinking of sepia tinged memories of times gone by. Were things better in the past or is it just how we remember them? That’s what this song seems to be asking. This is an absorbing song, a retrospective in music and it really touches a nerve with me, I find myself becoming utterly engrossed and that is what great music is all about. The closing track on the album is Awakening and it’s another mature and consuming piece of music with Arny’s sorrow-tinged vocal leading us on another enigmatic and mystical journey. The stylish synths add a classy aura to the song, there’s pathos and poignance in every note and the whole atmosphere is one of sentiment and wondering. It’s a fantatstic way to close out this latest chapter in the Geof Whitely Project story.
Arny deserves a huge amount of kudos and respect for his continuing reinvention of the Geof Whitely Project and this latest album is definitely his best release yet. The lyrics and melody are given equal standing and he’s given the music an extra dose of mystery and drama to make it an utterly absorbing listen. As I write this the Geof Whitely Project’s next album has just arrived so you will definitely be hearing more of this unique artist soon!
Released 2nd October 2017