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Conspiracy - 2003 The Unknown


CONSPIRACY - THE UNKNOWN (2003, INSIDE OUT RECORDS)
Billy Sherwood - vocals, guitars
Chris Squire - vocals, bass
Jay Schellen - drums


Background
Well as you can see from the lineup, this has all the hallmarks of a supergroup, considering the history of the three personnel involved. Merging the experience from bands such as Yes, Lodgic, World Trade, Hurricane and Unruly Child, you'd be thinking that a cracking set of melodic hard rock is the order of the day. While the names and reputations stand out, the material leans more in the prog direction than hard rock. The music is a hybrid of latterday Yes (obviously), the solo material of Trevor Rabin (probably not intentional, but thats what it sounds like to me). As well, there is a faint jangly pop flavour evident on some of the tracks, while on others, the prog tendencies from Billy's World Trade days comes sweeping across the soundscape like a heavy prog induced blanket. It is the second album collaboration between Messrs Squire and Sherwood (2000's 'Conspiracy' album). For Yes fans and hard core bassists in particular, this could be the musical equivalent of Nirvana. Or is it? It sounds as if Billy is doing the vocals mostly, his trademark style sticking out, and as a result, the World Trade connection becomes reminiscent. Unfortunate comparison I know, since he hasn't been connected with that outfit for ten years or so. The annoying thing with the vocals is that they are heavily processed with effects, losing any natural timbre, and as a result a synthetic sheen becomes apparent. No complaints about the instrumentation, tight as can be expected from this trio, the musical ideas for the most part are an expression of the complex nature of songwriting coming from this talented lot. Mere mortals could not produce music as well structured as this.

The Songs
The seven minute extravaganza 'New World' captures Conspiracy at their best. Passages of music which alternate but the tempo is retained at a racy level all the way through. Other standouts include a very entertaining track called 'The Wheel', which is the closest to zoom in on World Trade, while the last track (bonus track actually) 'I Could' is an excellent punchy slice of hard rock, great melodies and a sound which captivates. Elsewhere, 'Confess' features some staccato vocal effects and a poppy Rembrandts styled approach. Perhaps an attempt at commercial radio? 'Half A World Away' meanders through to about the 4 minute mark, only occasionally raising an eyelid of musical energy to prevent if from falling asleep totally. Tracks such as 'Premonition' and 'The Unknown' while lush and ambient in the style of Yes, doesn't quite grab me in the same way as some of the other tunes on display.

In Summary
You'll have to spend quite a bit of time with this album to extract any change out of it. It is a deep musical experience, which ebbs and flows for the most part and requires you to integrate with the CD for the 53 minute duration. Unfortunately the short attention span of most rockers and their penchant for the typical consumer lifestyle might see this album confined to the 'less than occasionally played' pile of CD's in the corner. For those looking for a quick aural fix, a short sharp thrift so to speak, you won't find it here. Meanwhile, Yes and World Trade fans will derive some benefit I'm certain of that.

Track Time: 53.53

Track Listing:
01 Conspiracy
02 Confess
03 New World
04 1/2 A World Away
05 There Is No End
06 The Wheel
07 Premonitions
08 The Unknown
09 I Could*
*Bonus

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