GALAHAD Following Ghosts (Avalon)

GALAHAD ELECTRIC COMPANY De-Constructing Ghosts (Avalon)

Kev sent me these CDs, explaining that as an avid Galahad fan and friend of the band he wanted to let ears more attuned to the dance genre loose on their new remix project, "De-Constructing Ghosts", essentially a messed around version of their 1998 album "Following Ghosts", which he also kindly popped in the jiffy bag for reference purposes. Kev spent a page raving about "Following Ghosts" in #50, and I have to agree with him that there's a noticeable absence of prog on here for a band I'd always pigeonholed as progressive. The latest model Galahad sounds more like Rush might have around the time of "2112" if they had access to the vast array of trickery and technology the band appear to have used on this album: all mightily 'impressive', impeccably played and produced, but music that just slides in through one of my ears and out of the other. I've played this CD eight times and, save for odd moments - such as the too-few seconds of vigorous riffing between the cringingly annoying spoken introduction to "Myopia" and its slide into lighter-waving stadium rock, or the rosy nostalgia of "A Short Reflection On Two Past Lives", which is pleasant in a "For Absent Friends" sort of way - absolutely nothing lodges in my mind. Nothing snags the ear; it says nothing to me about my life, as Morrissey once sang. And I write this as a selective but enthusiastic supporter of olde worlde prog, "Close To The Edge" and "Selling England By The Pound" being two of my favourite albums.

At least nobody could accuse Galahad of taking the dreaded dance music dollar for the money, and handing your work over wholesale to third parties - in this case Dean Baker, Phil Manley (both actually members of the band, which seems a bit of a cop-out, but there you go), Neil Pepper, James Bernard, Scott Zuki and Dub Rumble - is, after all, about as progressive a move as could be imagined. But "De-Constructing Ghosts" only serves to magnify my problems with the source material: take away most of Stuart Nicholson's Jon Anderson/Geddy Lee-styled vocals and the music becomes even more faceless. Which isn't to say that there isn't some nice stuff on this CD - the pipe organ bluster of "(We Will Always) Remember The Good Times", for example, is quite enjoyable - and the whole album glides past in a proficient, professional manner. But as dance music it doesn't kick hard enough, it's too polished, and lacks the blood and fire and impish mischievousness that the best dancefloor fodder is liberally shot through with. Galahad fans who survived the culture shock of "Following Ghosts" will probably enjoy it, and any band that attempts to bend their music into such new and unusual shapes deserves commendation for effort at least, but unfortunately my overriding impression of both these CDs is of a tame and toothless music.