Quietly arresting yet powerful from the start. A renewed version of Cathedral was released in 2007 ('The Bridge") which I felt even stronger than the debut simply due to a more updated sound of both classic and raw ideas by Mr Doncourt and friends. But this project is not a rejuvenated version of Cathedral as much as a whole entire new musical presentation from two multi-instrumentalists who just clicked together and made something extremely special. With vigor and experience from decades of honing their skills, this duo took in some key guests and made what may be the sleeper of the year 2020. One can see how Doncourt would be proud of this final masterpiece, and how Olsson did the fine service of seeing it through. Progressive rock fans rejoice and those who love music that treads fast and far, going heights that the tallest peaks live and the heavenly spaces above the clouds rest, this is your gem.
One can't help but think about the original "Stained Glass Stories" (1978) from Cathedral, which was Tom Doncourt's (RIP) baby and debut progressive rock gem from that era. Although that album featured another drummer/percussionist (Mercury Caronia IV, who came from a New Wave outfit called Industry out of NY back in the 70's, believe it or not), Mattias Olsson states this band was a huge influence on him and his band Anglagard, and thought quite a lot of it (and still does). It was a dream for him to work with Tom and he did a tremendous job with a prior solo jewel called 'Lantern' which also made my TOP CHOICES.of 2020 list. Although Tom passed away (March 20, 2019) 95% of the album had been recorded so Mattias took on the task of completing it, as he knew Tom wanted. Mattias cared deeply about Tom and wrote me a detailed (hand written) letter about the experience, stating things went dark when Doncourt died.
The line up is Mattias Olsson - Drums, Percussion [Tuned, Untuned And Detuned Percussion], Electric Guitar [Electric Guitars], Baritone Guitar [Baritone Guitars], Electric Piano [Wurlitzer Electric Piano], Turntables, Electronics [Speak & Read], Keyboards [Vako Orchestron, Optigan], Electronics [Gizmotron], Drum Machine [Chamberlin Rhythmate] / Tom Doncourt - Mellotron [Mellotron 400], Chamberlin [Chamberlin M1], Synthesizer [Moog 15 Modular], Electric Organ [Hammond Organ], Grand Piano, Synthesizer [Yamaha CX-30], Ondes Martenot [Ondéa], Organ [Bird Organ], Electric Piano [Wurlitzer Electric Piano], Keyboards [Clavioline], Organ [Hammond Solovox]/ with special guests – Hampus Nordgren-Hemlin - Electric Bass, Electric Guitar [Additional Electric Guitar], Acoustic Guitar [Additional Acoustic Guitar], Bass [Fender VI], Celesta [Jenco And Schiedmayer Celeste], Keyboards [Vako Orchestron], Synthesizer [Hohner Bass 2], Lamellophone [Hohner Guitaret], Omnichord, Sitar [Jerry Jones Electric Sitar] / and Akaba - vocals/ Stina Hellberg Agback - Harp on 'Poppies' / Hanna Ekström - Violiin and Viola on 'Poppies' /and Anna Dager - Cello on 'Poppies'. Everything was written by, recorded by, and produced by Mattias Olsson and Tom Doncourt. Lyrics by Doncourt. Artwork by Henning Lindahl, but I have to state that because of the black background and pale font and art, it is a bit tough to read without a magnifying glass. No matter, the music is tremendous and that is what matters most.
A bouquet of pleasure to the ears, the atmosphere ranges from dreamy and euphoric to epic on the order of Anthony Phillips era Genesis and early solo. Along with that comes the exotic touches so commonly found in Doncourt's treasure of solo releases. Then of course a strong exhibition from Olsson with not only the percussive world but his liberal portion of guitar, keyboard, and electronic input. The album is like a wizard's carnival and a hike to the end of a rainbow, somewhere very nice indeed. Time changes, progressions, pathways well created, and gardens discovered are all part of the landscape here. To top that off, I claim this another mellotron soaked enticing prize, not overdone and none too retro, as so many dimensions are granted to the listener, that even moments of rapture occur. Truly an easy pick for my TOP CHOICES of 2020 list. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (and I can think of no better way to have the fondest memory of Tom Doncourt, who made such immense and often ground breaking music through his years on this earth). Ample thanks to Mattias Olsson for not only his superb participation on this, but also his dedication to see it to fruition to get to our ears. This is beyond special!
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 3 - 2 - 2021