A real bonus when reviewing any newly released material is coming across a band so obviously full of passion for what they are doing and the music they are assembling. “Material Eyes” is such a case in name. I think the guys in the band would agree with me that “Material Eyes” is never going to take the progressive music world by storm or even materialize (sorry, it had to be mentioned if only to prove I could see the connection) into a massive household name but the music they are assembling is extremely listenable, beautifully melodic, very ‘sing-along’ too and nicely commercial without being twee. In fact it would not surprise me if, given a proper recording break, they did very well on the now ever expanding progressive rock circuit,
Although the members of this band are self-confessed aging proggers they are very much in their infancy as a new band having only assembled as threesome in 2016 and then since spending many hours together jamming, gathering ideas and finally assembling sufficient material to record this lovely gem of an album. I use the term gem because listening to this album now actually reminds me of those days in the early seventies when all varieties of progressive music was being released in miniscule quantities as self-financed projects later to be unearthed as massive collectors’ items.
The music from “Materialize” is delivered quietly in a very sedate kind of relaxing way apparently with comparisons, by others, already drawn alongside Barclay James Harvest and Caravan. Certainly I can detect a likeness with Caravan especially a distinct similarity to the vocals of Richard Sinclair. For me though I sense a passing resemblance within the compositions to the country rock flavorings of some 70s US bands. Not necessarily from those of a lead vocal perspective but certainly at times, of which there are many, when pretty decent two and three part harmonies are being delivered by the three members. Also there are other little moments with a ‘Neil Young’ kind of ring (track three and chorus track 6 also opening chord sequence to track 7 particularly)
There is on first play an apparent air of simplicity about the structure of the music but, one things for sure, there is a lot more to be discovered within the body of the various compositions during and after subsequent plays. The keyboards not only engage you with flurries of background fills and enchanting chord patterns but together with quite haunting moments of Hammond organ creeping through. There are too many moments of nice interplay between the guitars and keyboards with some subtle injections of flute, violin on track 7 together with a whole host of fine saxophone play that dominates the first section of track 8 before a combination of keyboards, guitar and saxophone all join forces to see the track out in style. The last track (A strange road) is without doubt the pinnacle of the album, built around an expanding scale it is wonderfully atmospheric, combining superb vocals , nice energetic guitar, spooky Hammond sound, little dabs of harp and lengthy too running at over 15 mins. A great number to end a show!!
Maybe and I do say maybe, if any criticism could be levied it would be that the drumming throughout is just a bit basic and ever so slightly one dimensional being mostly delivered by drum machine and programmed by computer. There is seemingly too, because of this, an apparent limitation to the pitch and speed of the music which prevents the band from embarking on a greater range of more complicated time changes. But never-mind the album is saturated in delightful charm and melodious interest. I understand that the band has now identified a bass player and drummer to join the ranks in preparation for when they go out and tread the local boards in around Pontefract, West Yorkshire.
Summary: A really nice happy kind of melodic album, great tunes and good musicianship.
Artwork: Decent cover art but otherwise the layout is quite basic although sufficient information can be gained from internet sources.
Martyn Howes –Guitars, Keyboards, Saxophone, Bass, Drums, Vocals
Dave Westmorland – Keyboards
Wil Lawery –Guitars and Vocals