PENDRAGON — The Window of Life

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PENDRAGON - The Window of Life cover
4.25 | 6 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 1993

Filed under Non-Metal
By PENDRAGON

Tracklist


1. The Walls of Babylon (10:50)
2. Ghosts (8:02)
3. Breaking the Spell (9:18)
4. The Last Man on Earth (14:46)
5. Nostradamus (Stargazing)(8:23)
6. Am I Really Losing You? (4:47)

Total Time 54:06

Line-up/Musicians

- Nick Barrett / vocals & guitars
- Peter Gee / bass
- Fudge Smith / drums
- Clive Nolan / keyboards

About this release

Released in 1993 by Toff Records.

Remastered in 2006 with these bonus tracks:

7. The Third World in the UK (7:15)
8. Dune (4:42)
9. Sister Bluebird (7:48)
10. Fallen Dreams and Angels (5:24)

Thanks to Unitron for the addition

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PENDRAGON THE WINDOW OF LIFE reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
Once PENDRAGON moved on from the train wreck that they released in the form of “Kowtow,” the band developed into a neo-prog powerhouse and released some of the best albums of the genre in the 90s starting with “The World.” With the stable lineup of Nick Barrett (guitars, vocals), Clive Nolan (keyboards), Peter Gee (bass) and Fudge Smith (yep, a drummer named Fudgie!), PENDRAGON continued to exhibit a compositional maturity only matched by bands like IQ and Nolan’s other gig, Arena.

With THE WINDOW OF LIFE, PENDRAGON crafted six strong tracks that found the band’s instrumental interplay blossoming on a whole new level. Recorded at the band’s new 24 track studio, it really sounds like the musicians took their sweet time in composing the best melodic emotional displays of neo-prog prowess that they could muster up and when the album hit the market in November of 1993, the band found a surge in its popularity and has remained one of the top dogs in the neo-prog world ever since. (Reissues have four extra bonus tracks which are weak and forgettable.)

The album immediately starts out bursting with confidence as a four minute bombastic organ run augmented by a very Pink Floydian guitar solo slowly ratchets up the tension before the vocals kick in along with the walls of atmospheric synth sounds, a bleating bass and drums. The band also began to develop the modern neo-prog staple of ratcheting up the dynamics ever so gently until crescendoing in heavily distorted rock guitar bombast and cyclical looped melodic riffs that offer subtle variations complete with various guitar antics to add some spice. True a Marillion classic sound but PENDRAGON was exploring the nooks and crannies and filling the cracks with various tones and timbres.

“Ghosts” displays Clive Nolan’s keyboard techniques as he adds various timbres through the piano and other keyboard sounds. The track is more of an instant emotional connection as the intro is less dynamic and the focus is on the lyrical delivery which finds Nick Barrett’s vocal performances in top form. Less prominent is drummer Fudge Smith’s excellent and tasteful drum fills as his role is subdued by the overpowering melodic harmonies and thematic presentations but still vital for the overall dynamism of THE WINDOW OF LIFE. While much of neo-prog could be considered nothing more than progressive ballads or sophisticated AOR a lot of the time, “Breaking The Spell” is clearly the most mellow track on board with a soft introduction and a slow ratcheting up effect that slinks over the nine minute mark but never breaks mid-tempo at best.

“The Last Man On Earth” is my personal fave. It nearly hits the 15 minute mark and has some of the best melodies, most outstanding twists and turns and maintains its emotional tug throughout its run and best of all never wears out its welcome. Roughly speaking, it changes gear every couple of minutes and offers new variation on old themes. Careful listening will reveal how clever these guys are at the subtle differences that affect the emotional center in subliminal delivers. It has one of the most unique parts of the album with guest musician Simon Forster delivering a wild harmonica performance with what sounds like a banjo accompaniment towards the end.

“Nostradamus (Stargazing)” has another Floydian intro at least as far as the sonic textures and slow spacey effects are concerned but sounds very different as far as the riffs and keyboard mixes are concerned. This one was a favorite as an opener for live shows at the time. While mostly a ballad, the album turns into a veritable rocker towards the end and reminds a lot of the Fish era Marillion rockers at their best with lots of key changes and that distinct bouncy bass groove. The album closes with “Am I Really Losing You?” which as expected is a tear jerking ballad which is soft and tinny and my least favorite track on the album as it is just too cliche for its own good but also thankfully the shortest track and forgettable.

In summary, THE WINDOW OF LIFE delivers all the neo-prog goods with an excellent band back on track and on the right course to deliver a few more excellent albums that follow. Only the last track rubs me the wrong way as it’s just too sappy and predictable but the rest of the album is chock full of beautiful melodies crafted by the beautiful entwinement of instrumental harmonies that result in a beautiful display of atmospheric progressive rock in all its glory. After hearing THE WINDOW OF LIFE, it’s quite obvious as to why PENDRAGON began to stand out of the neo-prog pack that was getting bigger by the day. Despite all the excellent tracks, they flow together so well and each has its own distinct personality. Personally i’m not sure if this one or the following “The Masquerade Overture” is my favorite of the PENDRAGON lot but all i can say is that for anyone who loves the progressive space pop sounds of neo-prog can’t go wrong with this beautiful specimen of the genre.

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