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Paradox One - Alternate Reality

Paradox One - Alternate RealityParadox One is the solo project of Phil Jackson.  Phil who, many moons ago, was in a couple of Dundee based bands that never really got off the ground but along with their own material played covers of YES, Camel, Deep Purple etc. songs, discovered that prog was still a force, albeit an underground one.  Inspired by this and bands such as Anekdoten and Anglagard and authors of sci-fi, he 'gave birth' to Paradox One and Alternate Reality is, I believe, his fourth album.

This instrumental and keyboard dominated album opens with a piece of music which sounded familiar (to me) and is in fact an excerpt from Robert Schumann's Manfred Overture (1852).  Nicely done but I have to say that the sound of this and the next track, Over the Top, veers on the side of the 'one man and his four-track' recoding in the bathroom, if you know what I mean.  However, things improve with the fuller sound on Adrenaline Rush, which is also the longest track at 6mins 28secs but could easily be extended to twice that length without risk of losing the listener's interest.

Keyboards are swapped for acoustic guitar for the lovely Lisette, which provides a nice intermission before the album really kicks off with the Purple-esque keyboards in Edge Of Reality.

The all-too-short A Faint Nimbus Of Starlight enters the prog frame and whilst only keyboards feature on this piece, I keep expecting a Hacketty guitar to enter the frame as on the Genesis track Hairless Heart.

Still maintaining the prog theme, but in standard time, Nuclear Casket carries a hint of sci-fi and Deep Purple.  Space Race, as the title would suggest, delves deeper into the sci-fi theme creating a slightly eerie if not lonely atmosphere (not that there is any in space) of an astronaut alone in his capsule drifting in the void.

If you noted what I said about Adrenaline Rush, penultimate track Adrenaline Spill is the sort of 'part 2' in that it continues the original theme.  Actually, it is interesting to play this track immediately after Adrenaline Rush to get the full effect.

Alternate Reality closes with strength in The End Of All Things which reminds me of Manfred Mann's Earthband around their Solar Fire era.

With a running time of just over 37 minutes, Alternate Reality by today's standards is a short album, yet it is just the right length to find yourself replaying selected tracks or the whole album.  True solo albums such as this are not easy to pull off which is why the majority of 'solo' musicians employ the services of guest musicians.  One or two tracks sound a little weak in execution (could be improved with the addition of a bass player and drummer for example) but overall, Alternate Reality is very listenable thanks to Phil's compositions and enthusiastic performance.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Paradox One

Neurosis Records


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