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Bruce Main - Layers

Bruce Main - LayersAs a founding member of progressive band Medusa in the 70's, multi-instrumentalist Bruce Main has accumulated a wealth of experience as a musician and sound engineer.  In 1993, Bruce could resist the urge no longer and started composing his first solo album, Tracks, which was released early in 2004.  A little more than a year later sees the release of his follow up, Layers.

The album kicks off with the sounds of intro track Carnival,  followed by Celebrity Circus, which initially at least has a slightly dark and eerie undertone fitting in well with my personal imagery from childhood of fairs, Mops, carnivals (what you call them depends on your locale), further entrenched by such comedies as The League of Gentlemen and their rather dubious character, Papa Lazarou and his Pandemonium Carnival.  The 'sandwich' is completed with a slice of Carnival Too, which is effectively the outro.

Bruce displays a pretty unique vocal sound and although like most vocalists he will have more than his fair share of criticism because there is no pleasing everyone, his emotional voice fits in well with the songs and is in fact quite endearing.  First Second displays that teetering emotional quality well, being a sort of opposite of a love song (if it was a television programme it would have a title like 'When Love Goes Bad').  Great lyrics and very amusing.

Gwendolyn starting as it does with a fanfare sounds as if it about to go into an ELP version of Fanfare For The Common Man but in fact if it can be compared to anything it would likely be that of Jethro Tull circa 70-72.  Great flute from guest musician Bruce Jones.

Mr Main plays everything (keys, drums, guitar plus vocals) on the album except for the aforementioned flute (Bruce Jones) and bass, which is provided by Brian Phraner (Phreeworld, Medusa) who also sings harmony on a couple of tracks.

There is no mistaking the influence of Tull again in places on Father but this time there is a Passion Play flavour.  Penultimate track, Lies, has a strong Floydian hint of Animals (is it Pigs or is it Dogs?) with punctuation of the ultra heavy (Skyclad for example) variety, mixed with Tull in My God mode.  Bruce enlists the vocal assistance of (I am making assumptions here) his children which adds to already dark edge.  This is the longest track of the eight, at just a tad under the 12-minute mark though seems a lot shorter and could easily go on for an hour.  There is a distinctive keyboard sound now and then on Lies that I would associate with ex-Caravan/Camel etc. Dave Sinclair.  Rounding of Layers is the gentle You Don't Know with Bruce accompanying himself on acoustic guitar.

Layers is one of those albums which grows on you the more you listen to it.  It has many textures but like a good horror film or indeed, comedy, it also has a mouth-watering dark side which can be both or either funny or scary (it's a personal thing) - just like life.  Recommended.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Bruce Main



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