Oblivion Sun: The High Places
Founding members of legendary prog act Happy the Man, Stanley Whitaker (guitar, vocals) and Frank Wyatt (keyboards, reeds) formed a new band back in 2007 called Oblivion Sun, and unleashed their self-titled debut album to a fanbase that was more than ready to welcome them with open arms. Fast forward to 2013, and the band are back with their sophomore release The High Places, along with new members David Hughes (bass) and Bill Brasso (drums).
As long as you have Whitaker & Wyatt involved, you can guess that the music is going to at least somewhat have that Happy the Man flair to it, and The High Places most certainly does. Instrumental tracks “Deckard”, “March of the Mushroom Men”, and “Dead Sea Squirrels” contain many of the elements that fans always loved about HtM, mainly Stan’s unique guitar stylings and the quirky keyboard work of Wyatt. While it’s of course progressive rock, the music has an element of jazz fusion to it as well, which can be attributed to Wyatt’s majestic piano lines and occasional use of saxophone, not to mention the often intense interplay between the lead guitar & keyboard lines. “Everything” is a tender vocal piece, which adds a brief few moments of respite between the instrumental tracks that surround it, but the main attraction here is the 22-minute title track. Broken up into six parts, this epic tale of dreams, Heaven, Earth, fantastic battles, and unspeakable beauty, sees the band pull out all the stops, with hints of classic HtM, Genesis, and Camel, and featuring fantastic Peter Gabriel inspired vocals from Whitaker, sizzling guitar work, complex rhythms, vintage sounding keyboards, and a great variety of tones, textures, atmosphere, and melody. It’s all a prog rock epic should be, and proof that the old HtM mates can still put together a lengthy composition of this nature.
Some might be left wanting more at barely 40 minutes, but The High Places doesn’t overstep its bounds here and delivers a tight little package that impresses on all levels. If you’re looking for some new prog here in 2013 to sink your teeth into, check this one out and let the old guys show you how it’s done.
Added: May 12th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo