There is so much new music out there that sometimes I just don’t know where to start. Requests for reviews come in multiples and it is really difficult to keep up with them all. Thankfully the team here at Progradar manage to just about keep up with the plethora of new releases.
The issue with this is that some great releases may get missed or forgotten and that would be a crime. Persistence is the key here and my friend Pat Sanders, the keyboardist and main man behind melodic-progressive rock outfit Drifting Sun is the embodiment of the word!
He is tireless in his promotion of the band and dedicated to his work. I would have reviewed their latest release ‘Twilight’ anyway but Pat has made sure it is front and centre and I am glad he did!
Drifting Sun date back to the early 90’s when Pat moved to the UK from his native France and released their first eponymous album in 1996. There have been many line-up changes through the band’s history and ‘Twilight’ sees departing guitarist Dan Storey replaced with the virtuoso Mathieu Spaeter, previously of the Franck Carducci band. The rest of the band consists of Peter Falconer (vocals), Manu Michael (bass) and Will Jones (drums).
I think Drifting Sun evolve and progress with each record they release. Their roots are in melodic progressive rock and the opening, and title, track Twilight enforces that view perfectly. The sumptuous melodies and vocal harmonies are brilliant and the added dynamic of Mathieu’s fluent guitar playing just adds another layer of class to the music. The solo just makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and yet it’s not just about the guitar, the whole band are gifted performers and the music is a joy to behold. Pat’s eloquent keys almost talk to you and the rhythm section is superb. Wings Of Hope is a very emotive song from the first notes of the keyboards and Peter’s voice has a touching timbre to it. It builds in layers of sonic complexity, all the while demanding your attention. The elegant guitar adds a classical touch to this symphonic feeling track. Once the blue touch paper is lit, the tempo rises and this stylish song opens up before you. The band’s music has the ability to move you and stir emotions inside and this track is a typical example with its complex sentiments and lush melodies. The segue into Mystery of Lies gives you a wonderfully restrained and stylish piece of guitar work from Mathieu, one that stirs the soul to leave a lasting impression. The hesitant feel continues with low-key voice over before Peter’s vocal breaks out in a demanding fashion, harmonies abound left, right and centre and Pat’s keyboards keep everything on track. It’s a clever contrast in styles that runs throughout the song. The interplay between guitar and vocals is tender and dignified and the whole song has a warmth and fragile innocence to it.
One of the first songs released from the album, Soldiers reinforces the inherent drama that all Drifting Sun songs contain. Well crafted in both lyrics and music, the emotions run raw through this mini-epic. Peter Falconer puts so much into his vocal delivery that you could imagine him treading the boards performing in a musical in the West End and it gives songs like this an edge that other bands don’t have. Mathieu Spaeter overlays this with his expressive guitar work, accompanied by the dancing keyboard fingers of Pat Sanders and it’s all held together by the uber-cool bass and drums of Manu Michael and Will Jones. This all comes together to give maturity to the songs that wasn’t always present before. Summer Skies is a full-blown ten minute-plus epic that enthralls from beginning to end. Mathieu’s slow burning opening keeps you on tenterhooks for what is going to follow. Soft, yet passionate vocals ramp up the tension even more, there’s anticipation evident in every word and every note that is played. The melody around the repeated chorus is very addictive and I find myself humming along, always the sign of a good tune! This is a thoughtful and articulate piece of music where every note has a place and every word is there for a reason, songwriting with the listener in mind. Pat’s graceful piano interlude in the middle of the song is a clever break and the track then builds up to a great outpouring of vocal and musical emotion, backed by the ever expressive guitar. The extended close out just leaves you feeling mellow and relaxed and satiated by a marvelous piece of music. A classical introduction to Remedy is enforced by the jazzy piano and guitar that gives a laid back mood to the song. The vocals are underscored by an ambient synth to give a cultured and sophisticated feel, reinforced by Peter’s most wistful vocal performance to date. A mellow vibe settles down over everything and you find yourself entranced by the calm nature that pervades each note as it plays out to a sophisticated close.
The dramatic opening to Outside has a real sense of melodrama to it and a theatrical overtone which is embellished by the smooth tones of Peter’s vocal. The musicians deliver another intense performance and Mathieu is let loose to showcase his evident prowess. This is a fantastic marriage of melodic, symphonic and progressive rock to give the music a life all of its own and it is really impressive, just listen to the fiery solo and you’ll see what I mean. The cultured keyboard skills of Pat are always there to give structure and roots to these virtuoso musicians as they deliver stunning note after note. The last track on this thoroughly entertaining musical journey is Remain, eight minutes of melodic inventiveness where the listener is taken on a harmonic roller coaster ride. A fast paced track with an urgent rhythm, the music is again the focus for the listener as you find yourself drawn in to the world of Drifting Sun. Another great extended guitar solo segues into some intricate keyboard playing to add another highlight before the song and album close out and I’m left with a knowing smile on my face.
Drifting Sun have perhaps added the final piece to the puzzle with Mathieu Spaeter and ‘Twilight’ is without a doubt the band’s most consummate and polished release to date. They deliver melodic progressive rock of the highest calibre and continue to mature and evolve into a very impressive musical outfit, I can’t recommend this highly enough.
Released 1st September 2017