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Articles Home » 2007 Articles » Mermaid Kiss - 2007 Etarlis
Mermaid Kiss - 2007 Etarlis

ARTIST: Mermaid Kiss
ALBUM: Etarlis
LABEL: Mermaid Kiss Music
YEAR: 2007


LINEUP: Evelyn Downing - lead and harmony vocals, flute * Jamie Field - guitars, backing vocals * Andrew Garman - keyboards, bass, drums, percussion * Nigel Hooton - guitars * Kate Belcher - lead & harmony vocals * Wendy Marks - cor anglais, oboe, recorders

Guests: Troy Donockley - pipes, whistles * Jonathan Edwards - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Prelude * 02 A Different Sky * 03 Walking With Ghosts * 04 Dark Cover * 05 Nowhere To Hide * 06 Siren Song * 07 A Sea Change * 08 Shadow Girl * 09 Beat The Drum *10 Crayola Skies * 11 The City Of Clouds (Qway-Lin)


WEBLINKS: www.mermaidkiss.co.uk

British prog act Mermaid Kiss have been making big strides in recent times, topped off by an album of equisite tastes, the ethereal sounding 'Etarlis'. This is certainly a CD that die-hard proggies will lap up like a Jack Russell terrier attacking his waterbowl on a hot summers day! For AORsters perhaps less so. Listening to 'Etarlis' is like taking a journey inside your head. How deep you go is up to you, but at least you'll have the means to do so. Mermaid Kiss at this point are mainly a studio band, initially wrapped around the talents of Evelyn Downing and Jamie Field. The duo took their music into a studio where they eventually hooked up with studio hound Andrew Garman. The trio produced the debut 'Mermaid Kiss' album back in 2003, and eventually went out and performed live supporting Welsh band Karnataka. Over recent times, Mermaid Kiss have progressed even more. Relasing a 2006 EP 'Salt On Skin', adding extra personnel, and then culminating with this adventurous offering 'Etarlis', which is based on the fantasy adventure of the mystical land of Etarlis. The storyline, written by Evelyn and Jamie over many years, certainly has a lot of similarities to 'The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe' - and the far-away land of Narnia. The music however is a different kettle of kippers!

The Songs
Musically, Mermaid Kiss are in a similar zone to Iona and Canadian celtic songbird Loreena McKennitt, and with two female vocalists the album is swimming in vocal harmony. Despite the overall lilting atmosphere that has been created, occasionally, the album will lift from its ethereal bed. No sooner have we migrated from the opening strains of 'Prelude', we leap right into the Etarlis world with 'A Different Sky', a flurry of keys and guitars introduce our arrival in pompous glory. We must remember, the song sequence follows the structure laid out in the Etarlis storybook (read it at www.etarlis.com). Both 'Walking With Ghosts' and 'Dark Cover' are tender feather-lite pieces, the latter has an Alan Parsons Project like feel to it, though the exceptional flute work moves it more into ambient territory. 'Nowhere To Hide' has a near cinematic edge to it, straight from a soundtrack it would seem. 'Siren Song' is like a delicate piece of balsar wood upon the sea, both fragile and graceful. The soundscape to the five-part 'A Sea Change' is ambient and atmospheric. You could place it in the same territory as Iona, majestic and uplifting across its 7 minute 20 sec playing time. The piano laden 'Shadow Girl' could be best described as Jewel or Tori Amos doing celtic/ambient. For something different, 'Beat The Drum' features a modern trance like vibe, which a contrast to the rest of the album, but it flows nicely. The interestingly titled 'Crayola Skies' is another to float effortlessly - being safely anchored by some piano and volin. The coup de grace is the near minute epic 'The City Of Clouds'. This is to Mermaid Kiss what 'Encircling' is to Iona (refer their 'Journey Into The Morn' album).

In Summary
The music here is not the typical fare one would expect on this site. As such, and it wouldn't be appropriate that I gave this review the same level of accolades as other prog music sites have. You could go to sites like DPRP, ProgNose or Sea Of Tranquility and read their gushing reviews instead. However, we do think 'Etarlis' warrants a place here due to its purity of melody, breathtakingly so in many places, but I would suggest that given the predominant audience of this site, 'Etarlis' would be an 'inquisitive listen', rather than an 'immediate listen'. Like some of the other album delights reviewed here, you'll need to commit a good hour in a quiet place. Away from the hubby or wife, away from the pets and the kids, preferably in a locked room with the headphones securely on and the volume up loud. You should only be interrupted if the house is on fire or the spouse wants a nookie (lol). If not, go and pay a visit to the land of 'Etarlis'.

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