Welcome to the latest instalment of my Album of the Year 2018 top 30 countdown. No big introduction today you’ll be pleased to read.
As the countdown moves inexorably towards the top 10, there’s just time to remind you that, as always, if you’ve missed any of my previous posts, head down to the bottom of this post to check out the links for numbers 30-13.
But now, on with the show…
‘The Courage To Be’
Score of Much Metal: 9.75
An album in my top 15 that doesn’t contain ANY guitars (except a guest solo within the title track)? I’ve clearly taken leave on my senses.
But wait. An album in my top 15 that doesn’t contain ANY guitars AND is an instrumental prog/jazz /fusion record? For the love of God, is the sky falling in? ‘The end is nigh’, I hear you cry.
Well, for those of you who secretly hoped I might have parted company with my marbles, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I am deadly serious and, as I write this post, 100% stone cold sober.
The simple reason why an album like this is so highly placed in my end-of-year list is because it is so effortlessly brilliant. I have never – and I mean never – enjoyed a record of this nature quite this much. But then, has there ever been an album of this nature before? There have been prog/jazz fusion albums that are liberally sprinkled with incredible technical prowess. There have been instrumental albums that are capable of telling an eloquent story. There have been cinematically imbued records that carry the drama and dynamics of a Hollywood blockbuster. But has there ever been an album that can, so masterfully, achieve all three? Maybe, but I can’t think of one that has had even as fraction of the impact that this record has had on me.
At the core of my affection for this record is the melodic strength of the music as well as the rich warmth that comes through. Not only is it a memorable album, it is like being wrapped in a comforting blanket and sitting in front of a roaring fire. It is the way that the music therefore makes me feel. Each of the three musicians is technically (some might say ‘sickeningly’) gifted, but that never gets in the way of the compositions themselves, which are almost entirely stunning in their honesty and purity.
I wish, in a way, that I could place this record even higher in my list. But it has proved to be impossible given the strength of this year. Nevertheless, I hope that Lux Terminus understand how much I like ‘The Courage To Be’ and I hope they understand the compliment of such a high placing from someone who is, at their core, a lover of music at the heavier and more metallic end of the spectrum.
To quote my review of 28 June 2018:
“It is a really excellent album. Fundamentally, the reason for this is because the trio of musicians involved are all supremely talented. Keyboardist/pianist Vikram Shankar, bassist Brian Craft and drummer Matthew Kerschner have certainly written music that is technical, complex, challenging and occasionally a little off-the-wall. However, the compositions are imbued with a warmth that I wasn’t fully expecting. I also wasn’t necessarily expecting to hear such defined songs, where melodies, motifs and clever changes in direction and flow help to tell an engrossing story.
The title of this record is well-chosen, simply because Vikram Shankar and his two cohorts have had the courage to do what they wanted on this album. They could have invited a guitarist to add another layer to the music, but they didn’t. For that, I am told that they have received a lot of flack from certain corners of the prog community. But to their credit, they had ‘the courage to be’ and deliver us the kind of music that they wanted. Huge kudos to the guys for that, too.
you get peaks and troughs; moments of huge, life-affirming euphoria are quickly replaced by sections of moody introspection or quieter contemplation. But it is all wrapped up in the most intelligent of musical soundtracks. Indeed, there is a demonstrable cinematic quality to a lot of the output on this disc. There’s depth, a richness of sound and a deftness that brings things to life so beautifully. Nothing is forced, nothing is contrived and it comes across as smooth and effortlessly elegant.
I was never expecting to like Lux Terminus as much as I do. It has connected with me more than I thought possible and has masterfully manoeuvred its way into my affections to the point where I look forward to the next time that I can spend an uninterrupted hour of my life listening to it. In fact, I’m going to do that right now, because I can’t think of anything better right now.”
Read the full review here.
If you missed the previous posts in my 2018 list, click here:
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 13
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 14
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 15
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 30
If you missed my ‘best EPs and compilations of 2018, you can read that here:
And here’s a reminder of my countdown series from previous years: