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Articles Home » 2010 Articles » Flag - 2010 Perihelion
 
Flag - 2010 Perihelion



ARTIST: Flag
ALBUM: Perihelion
LABEL: Arthur Offen Music
SERIAL: Promo
YEAR: 2010

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Arthur Offen - lead vocals, rhythm and lead guitars, piano, keyboards, synthesizers, orchestration * Jon Sherman - drums * Jim Mouradian - bass (tracks 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,10) * Rick Hinkle - lead guitar ('A Winters Tale') * Chris Cornish - vocals ('A Winters Tale')

TRACK LISTING: 01 Perihelion * 02 Runaway Train * 03 O'Centurion * 04 Beyond This Mountain * 05 When Storm Clouds Gather * 06 Solar Fanfare * 07 World By Night * 08 Life Of Crime * 09 Stephanie * 10 Low Country Rider 1776 * 11 A Winters Tale

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.arthuroffen.com


Background
Hard rock doesn't get more pomp than Arthur Offen's Flag. Long time fans of Arthur, will remember his work with the classic 80's outfit Airraid, but it's his 90's work with the project called Flag that tends to draw pomp and AOR fans through the door like moths to a flame. So far, Arthur has released three albums under the Flag banner. 1997's 'Across The Stars' and 2006's 'Book Of Conquests' plus the latest 2010 offering 'Perihelion'. Musically, you could compare this to Brian McDonald's 'Voyage' CD from 2003, though Arthur leads us in a slightly different direction than Brian did, with his vocals sounding uncannily like Bill Champlin of Chicago fame. The arrangements are technically complex, lush, and it's a musicians masterclass to be honest. Arthur sent me through some credit details on the album ahead of time, as the physical CD is still a few weeks away yet. 'Perihelion' was a three year voyage, kicking off as far back as April 2007 starting out with basic tracks. Jon Sherman, who drummed on 'Across The Stars' has joined on again, his drum tracks were put down in Sept 2007. During 2008, Arthur left Boston (his long time residence) and returned to his hometown Atlanta. From there, additional parts were added, plus overdubs, with finished parts sent by email back to producer Tom Waltz up in Boston. The final mix was completed in August 2009, and finally 'Perihelion' was complete.


The Songs
Judging by the album cover, you can be assured that space/sci-fi concepts abound throughout the CD, but not always. The title track 'Perihelion' leads us into a futuristic soundscape, with cascading piano lines leading the way. A fantastic start, the track is filled with bombastic passages - if you can imagine the band Chicago circa 1988-1991 doing pomp, then this is what they'd sound like. Fine by me! More straight forward is track two 'Runaway Train', with its hard driving piano and rockin' guitar lines. 'O'Centurion' is a lovely singalong tune with an easy on the ear arrangement which builds momentum and melodic density during its running time. Expansive is the word that springs to mind when mentioning 'Beyond This Mountain'. Combining acoustic and electric elements, there is a thick layer of keys/synths that fills the spaces. A beautiful track all round. Another album highlight is the buoyant 'When Storm Clouds Gather'. The bright/happy piano lines bounce of the walls with youthful and playful energy reminding me of many 80's West Coast albums, though there are parts to this track which are dense with thick organ lines and fanfare like synths which scatter across the soundscape in a myriad of musical colour. Segueing directly into 'Solar Fanfare', this is a superb all out pomp excursion that draws comparisons to guys like Bill Meyers and Russ Irwin. 'World By Night' is a much harder guitar oriented track, following soon after is the dark edge of 'Life Of Crime'. Again, guitars take precedence here, which keeps the mood under cover. Arthur's noted piano skill is drawn out on the poignant ballad 'Stephanie'.. it has a whimsical element to it, perhaps taking Ian Thomas's ability to write tender tunes and combine it with the musical style of - let's say Kansas. Arthur returns us to the world of pomp and bombast for 'Low Country Rider 1776', where we take a trip back in time. The last track is the thirteen minute epic 'A Winters Tale', which is split up over a series of sections. Joining Arthur on this one is former Airraid band mate Rick Hinkle, plus co-vocalist Chris Cornish. It holds its shape for the duration, and though there are some ebb and flow parts, I was kind of hoping for a huge crescendo for the end sequence, which doesn't quite arrive, instead we exit on a piano motif.


In Summary
'Perihelion' is a real musical experience, to be given due space and time when listening to it. It's clever, mesmerizing in places, and captures certain moods and feelings. There are only a handful of other artists that do anything remotely similar. As mentioned, Brian McDonald is one of these, perhaps Jeff Cannata of Arcangel notoriety is the other. I can't speak highly enough of Flag. You can purchase the promo album off CDBaby like I did, or you can wait until the physical CD is made available from Arthur's website. While you're at it, pick up the other two Flag albums and complete the trifecta from this extremely talented musician.


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Comments
#1 | Nick C on March 27 2010 10:47:10
Top album! I was going to wait for the CD but excitement got the best of me and I ended up downloading it.....but I'll be buying the physical CD release too!
Just everything I was hoping it to be after the first two brilliant Flag releases. Dust off the air keyboards at last there's something to do them justice.
#2 | swazi on January 11 2013 21:57:27
Ha! Finally got it! Smile Now where do I find the others ?? hmm!
#3 | Eric on January 11 2013 23:26:38
CD? Last I checked on the web site, still only downloads. *sigh*
 
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