Some time back, it was rather a surprise to find out that, as the members of Yes took time to craft a series of personal statements, Jon Anderson was the rockingest of them all. I mean, the guy's kind of an elfin New Agey cat, yet he created *Olias of Sunhillow* and produced a rhythmically charged concept cycle based in elaborate percussives that evoked a balmy golden age of South and Meso-America musics…and did it so damn well that only Pat Moraz's same year I was the only comparative. Well, that's exactly the kind of vibe you get as Aomusic's …and Love Rages On! opens, that verdant jungle feeling joyous with human exultancy.
The band is a threesome—Richard Gannway, Jay Oliver, and Miriam Stockley—with myriad sessioneers (including the well regarded Doug Lunn), several children's choirs, and so on, but the richness of the tracks is oft orchestral and always bright and snappy, dancing in well-layered environments amid catchy happy melodies and ornate extensions. I am not, as readers (along with John Diliberto) who have followed my work for years can attest, the most enthusiastic critic of New Age works, but what has arisen from the movement has taken on truly intelligent dimensions and shows exceedingly well here and in the work of the likes of Vangelis, Matthew Montfort, Shadowfax, and others.
Yes, I'd have to place this in a progmusic vein, as well as world and world-jazz, but also almost athwart classical works as well, especially those deriving from folk musics. Stockley has sung for one of my all-time faves, Mike Oldfield, as well as Brian May, Tina Turner, Queen, and a bunch of others. Oliver came from the lands of Corea, Weckl, and Ferguson (Maynard, not Jay) and worked with the Eagles, Boz Scaggs, Bonnie Raitt, etc. Gannaway, however, is the scholar-ethnomusicologist of the group and fascinated by the structure of language as well as music but has played with Homegrown Harvest Band, a top nu-grass ensemble…and ya gotta love great 'grass, y'all!
In truth, …and Love Rages On! travels through a number of cultures (Andean, Celtic, island, etc.) in a series of interconnected tracks that never fail to lift the spirits and engage the cerebral cortex. Though he was not at all involved in the CD, more than little of Trevor Horn's marvelous textures and studio work are integrated into Aomusic's skillful evocations, and the various backing choirs will remind more than once of such singing aggregates as Voix Bulgares. No matter how you slice it, this is a sparkling and engaging set of songs.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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