Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rush - Test for Echo, 1996

Rush - Test for Echo album cover, 1996
01 - Test for Echo
02 - Driven
03 - Half the World
04 - The Color of Right
05 - Time and Motion
06 - Totem
07 - Dog Years
08 - Virtuality
09 - Resist
10 - Limbo
11 - Carve Away the Stone
Here we go. Vertigo...

Given you don't live in Canada, how many Canadian bands do you know? Given now the positive number, chances are Rush is on the list. They are big, and they are good. And there are definitely things outstanding about them.

A trio to start with. A progressive rock trio to amplify the challenge of potential shortage of hands. Good thing – it's really not about the quantity. Alex Lifeson, the founding member, deals with guitars – all kinds of guitars – he's good at it. Frontman Geddy Lee takes on the bass and keyboards responsibilities, vocals aside. Neil Peart – a drummer. Only? Not really, since he is the person responsible for Rush lyrics since the time he joined the group (which is pretty much the time the group exists). Only 1.5 lineup changes since 1968, both happened before the second album out of 19 so far. And on top of this all - they are the artists (sadly enough, not that frequent epithet in popular music, but it is theirs rightfully).

Band's discography comes in stages. First there was hard rock mixed with classical progressive sound of the time. Surprisingly, not my favorite period though. Then came electronics around 80's. Not the electronics-electronics, but surely something which can be opposed to good old yell-drums-n-guitars within the rock music. And yet later, around the change of millenia, Rush's sound deviated again into pretty much the mixture of their previous experiences. Test for Echo was released at the border of these last two periods and incorporates the best of both worlds in my humble opinion.

A wonderful record, balanced with energy of faster pieces, emotional strains and melodism. A record where Geddy shows to the full extent one thing I value him as a vocalist most for: insinuation – ability to subdue the strongest emotions in the voice, only to make them stand out more through this suppression. Listen to it – it's like a man torn apart by the feelings of unbearable strength, but directing his last powers not to let anyone see. Something I was once taught a man should be.

And being a visual artist, another thing I appreciate is that Rush traditionally devote more time and thought to the look of their albums than would be expected from a rock'n'roll band. Test for Echo not being an exception.

As usual – hope you'd give it a try and find pleasing. Next time – Sour Jazz.


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