The main protagonist behind Canadian band ‘Monarch Trail’ is classically trained musician ‘Ken Baird’. Initially Ken played with a band called ‘Perpetual Angelus’ before leaving to pursue a career as a solo artist in the mid-1990s. During that time he released five privately pressed studio albums utilising studio musicians two of which, drummer Chris Lamont and Bassist Dino Verginella, were to later join him when he formed ‘Monarch Trail’ with the intention of expanding on the collaborative side of the instrumental arrangements for the music which he had been preparing at the time.
This album under review here is the second album from ‘Monarch Trail’ released in 2017 some three years later than the first album which seems a long gap for a new band between recordings, suggesting maybe that the musicians might go their separate ways in between studio sessions. This of course would make sense with self-financed projects and the fact that the basic conceptual ideas derive from ken Baird the focal point composer.
In essence the music, no surprise here, is a very much keyboard orientated affair with a weighty preponderance of cleverly arranged synthesizer contributions all of which emanate from Ken Baird’s magical fingers. Multitudes of multi-tracked combinations of melodic sweeping synthesizer note sequences and masses of colourfal sustained organ fill the air with some totally amazing free and easy bass line support with exquisitely fluid drumming accompaniments. The bass and percussive department, not exactly what you would call flashy. Never-the-less so perfectly coordinated with the percussion so delightfully arranged. Further illustrations of the bands flexibility come to the fore especially in the track (5) ‘Charlies Kitchen’ with a gorgeous jazzy piano introduction and then a further succession of inspired piano leads followed and overlaid with some complex synthesizer contributions. The epic 25min and title track (7) offering ‘Sand’ is an extensive multi sectioned offering of more keyboard proliferations with time changes galore and is totally steeped with atmospheric guitar contributions from both ‘Steve Cochrane (acoustic), John Mamone (lead) and ‘Kelly Kereliuk’ (lead) indeed this is wonderful track and deserved of special mention.
Clearly this is, in the main, a keyboard inspired project but there are some fine contributions of additional lead guitar integrated within the mix. Namely John Mamone, Kelly Kereliuk and Steve Cochrane who all had major creative input in respect to their individual their solos sections.
Besides writing and composing all of the tracks Ken Baird handles all of vocal scores himself, really well too, he has a nice pleasant melodic voice and the (multi-tracked, I guess?) harmony arrangements are well delivered.
Summary: A nice classy keyboard infused progressive offering.
Artwork by Annette Roche. A bit dull and uninteresting, I don’t know but maybe the drawings relate to the lyrics?
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Station Theme (3:52)
2. First Thoughts (3:22)
3. Back To The Start (7:11)
4. Missing (6:29)
5. Charlie's Kitchen (7:43)
6. Another Silent World (2:10)
7. Sand (24:31)
Total Time 55:18
Line-up / Musicians
- Ken Baird / keyboards, guitar (5), vocals, composer
- Dino Verginella / bass
- Chris Lamont / drums
- John Mamone / guitar (3,4,7)
- Kelly Kereliuk / lead guitar (7)
- Steve Cochrane / acoustic guitar (7)