As the keyboards player with Fusion Orchestra 2 Ben Bell isn’t short on experience or contacts so making this album as a totally solo effort shows a remarkable level of commitment: after giving more than the usual number of listens to it I can strongly recommend this approach – a top drawer album.

There are modern strands of Prog that seem to have left all traces of history or the development of this style of music behind but Mr Bell is absolutely rooted in the form and this harks back to some of the greats but he manages to also be making his own statements and the music has real integrity and heart as well as carrying a story in the melody – something that seems to be lacking in many bands today.

Ben’s talents are shown to the extreme with him being credited with a dozen keyboard instruments as well as bass, guitar, drums, telephone bells, Szechuan pepper shaker as well as all voices and programming but you don’t ever get the feeling he has over-extended his talents.

The albums opens with a long piece, ‘Sketch Of A Day’, and over 16 minutes he seems to catch the swell of moods and activities; at times you can almost smell toast and coffee!

He has also created a 9 piece suite called ‘Dawn Light’ which shows all his talents to the full – strong melodies, inventive playing and a surprisingly fair voice. There is a narrative flow to the suite and he has brought in classic Prog elements – jazz, classical and rock – without trying too hard to show off all his talents.

The shorter songs all stand on their own and show some folky touches – ‘Dance of the Fleet Footed Heffalumps’ is rather lovely.

There isn’t anything that shrieks BEN BELL at you in this album but as an example of classic Prog and as an album in its own right this is bloody fine.

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