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John Edmonds - When Schemes Come True

John Edmonds - When Schemes Come TrueHot on the heels of his recent release, Subzerosonic, master stick player John Edmonds has another new album, When Schemes Come True.  Strictly speaking, When Schemes Come True is technically John’s first album as all but the track Ghost of John was recorded and released on cassette in 1991.  Unfortunately, the original release was only available for a short while because the distributor folded.  With the additional track, Ghost Of John (recorded late 1994), and the expert mastering touch of Kurt Rieman at Surreal Studios, Anchorage, Alaska, When Schemes Come True has finally made it to CD and is due for release in September 2003.

Whilst Subzerozonic was predominantly a ‘stick album, When Schemes Come True is guitar and keyboards based (it was recorded prior to John taking up the Chapman Stick).

As can probably be deduced from the album cover (presentation is a cardboard sleeve in place of a jewel case), the album is a sort of musical version of a spy novel, so have those Len Deighton books handy!  The six tracks spanning 58 minutes certainly create an atmosphere composer John Barry would be proud of as a film score.

The calm menace of synthesiser swiftly followed by drum roll and gong at the start of Networked, herald the ‘unknown’ moving into ‘flight or fight’ mode, just the ticket for keeping one at the edge of one’s seat.

The orchestration on the album, all programmed, is unbelievably realistic – John tells me he used an old E-mu Proteus 2 for the woodwind section and the oboe is to die for, a credit to the electronics and to John’s programming and arrangement skills.  Talk Of Times is a more relaxed retrospective, the orchestrated sections of which at times are reminiscent of Camel and The Enid whilst the guitar work is indicative of Steve Hackett and Al di Meola.

Relapse is a pacey prog number with a hint of jazziness and a Gentle Giant type structure, yes I mean complex, occasionally discordant, seemingly breaking rules but in fact making new ones.

Next up is Ghost of John, at just under 16 minutes the longest track on the album.  Incorporating elements of The Reaper (In The Region Of The Summer Stars – The Enid, itself reminiscent of a classical piece the name of which escapes me), in its spine-chilling beginning, this heavily orchestrated work covers sadness, menace and hope, not necessarily in that order.  Which is rather apt as it is a profound and haunting interpretation of a traditional children’s Halloween round!

Brainwatched creates an image of someone up to no good, furtively keeping an eye on someone or something whilst trying to remain inconspicuous.  It also contains some rather nice guitar solos.

The final track is the title track that captures the flavour of several countries/places from eastern European (old Iron Curtain) to western European and the Mediterranean (in film terms, think John Barry meets Burt Bacharach).  In a nutshell, our spy came through it relatively unscathed.  Why does Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer character spring to mind?

If you have invested in decent Hi Fi equipment, this album is a good test for its reproductive capabilities.  The recording is excellent and unconstrained.  Set the amp to mid-volume and be enveloped in the music, marvelling in the arrangements whilst trying not to be too concerned how the neighbours are contending with the warm low notes in the audible spectrum.  And try to spot the not so obvious sections of previous themes played upside down, inside out, in reverse or just disguised.  If something sounds strangely familiar but you just can’t put your finger on it, you’ve found one.  This is a must-have for every serious music lover.

Further info and purchase details can be found via the link below.

Jem Jedrzejewski

John Edmonds


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