Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence – Album Review

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Artist: Cosmograf

Album Title: The Unreasonable Silence

Label: Cosmograf Music

Date Of Release: 13 June 2016

Cosmograf is another musical name that I have discovered this year thanks to the power and persuasion of social media, not to mention the increased time that I have now that I am only writing for my own blog. And I’m really pleased to make the acquaintance of Cosmograf. Or, more accurately, I’m pleased to make the acquaintance of Robin Armstrong because it is he who is the mastermind behind Cosmograf.

‘The Unreasonable Silence’ is the fifth album from Armstrong under the Cosmograf moniker and it is a very commendable effort indeed, with much pleasure to be derived from the listening experience.

Joining the accomplished musician and songwriter on this particular journey are a number of notable musicians including drummer Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, ex- Spocks Beard), bassists Nick Beggs (The Mute Gods, Steven Wilson) and Dave Meros (Spock’s Beard) as well as Rachael Hawnt (The Great Scott Band), plus a few guests who offer their voices for various ‘parts’ within the story.

The striking cover artwork that depicts the face of an alien lifeform should offer a big clue as to the subject matter on ‘The Unreasonable Silence’. There is a big science-fiction theme that runs through this album but it is cloaked in mystery, deliberate ambiguity and dark, foreboding atmospheres. To make the lyrics even more powerful and relatable to us, the average listener, much of the content is rooted in human emotions as we follow a central character who becomes slowly detached from friends, family and ‘real life’. It is unclear whether the events are the invention of his mind or are genuine, but this just makes the whole thing more intriguing and unsettling.

Concepts of this nature, I find, only work if they are accompanied by strong music, music that breathes life into the story and which lends an authenticity to the whole endeavour. Happily Armstrong delivers here, thereby drawing the listener into the narrative wonderfully without the faintest whiff of cheesiness or any negativity that can sometimes be associated with concept works.

Musically, Cosmosgraf is very definitely progressive rock at its core, with strong neo-prog overtones thanks to the abundance of synths that bathe large portions of the music throughout this ten-track, hour-long record. That said there is a very welcome variety within the compositions that means that ‘The Unreasonable Silence’ delivers on a number of levels.

At various points throughout the album, there’s a demonstrably cinematic feel. Opening instrumental ‘Echo $abduction’ builds the tension and those dark, oppressive atmospheres expertly. It features spoken word and sound samples, strange electronics and a lone, mournful lead guitar that all combine very nicely indeed to create something that could easily be heard on the silver screen.

Credit: Dan Armstrong Photography

Credit: Dan Armstrong Photography

The same could be said for segments of many other tracks too. ‘This Film Might Change Your Life’ begins and ends quietly but is accompanied by more strange other-worldly sounds and textures before launching into a composition where the tempo is upped along with the urgency and indeed the heaviness as the drums and guitars sound muscular in a very clear and rich production. Further spoken-word narrative introduces the concept before this nine-minute prog rock opus delivers everything a devotee of this genre could want. Guitar solos, expressive drum and bass playing, light and shade, layers of synths and keyboards, drama, opulence; it’s all here, pulled together into an entertaining and cohesive piece of music.

‘Plastic Men’ is a gorgeous track that flits between quiet and contemplative to forceful, featuring from some great melodies, strong lyrics and a passionate vocal delivery that resonates.

Armstrong, it seems, is never afraid to try different things and so the use of computer game sounds and other odd sound effects litter ‘The Unreasonable Silence’. And yet, they never seem out of place or incongruous; rather, they play an important role within the songs, as demonstrated by ‘Arcade Machine’ which also toys with pop and classic melodic rock to interesting effect. And that extended lead guitar outro is a thing of real Floydian beauty.

In contrast, ‘RGB’ is dominated by a sumptuous acoustic guitar, electronic beat, highly affected vocals and more spoken word samples which begin to enhance the listening experience rather than detract from it the more I listen. ‘Four Wall Euphoria’ benefits from a jazz-like feel in the mid-section, whilst ‘The Uniform Road’ offers an intriguing contrast between some of the heaviest riffs on the album and tones that border on ambient territory, underpinned by that ever-present dark vibe.

And then there’s the title track which closes the album in fine, epic fashion. I love the gentle acoustic guitars, the elegant lead guitars and the dreamy quality that imperceptibly builds into a feeling of hope within the otherwise bleak sonic landscape.

As I write, I’m on my fourth back-to-back spin of ‘The Unreasonable Silence’ and I’m far from bored by the experience. Each time, I find something new to latch onto or I get caught up in a different aspect of the material. Sometimes I get goose bumps from the beautiful vocals contained within the aforementioned ‘RGB’ or on the utterly beautiful ‘Relativity’. At other times, the story gets under my skin and I discover previously hidden words or interpret the lyrics differently. You really do begin to live the experience rather than just listen to it.

And, in a nutshell, that’s the overall strength of Cosmograf and ‘The Unreasonable Silence’; it is a great listen with some brilliant musicality but more than that, it’s a full-on sonic experience. And as such, this has to be one of the best progressive rock albums I have heard in 2016 so far.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

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