Monday, May 28, 2012

Hobson's Choice - New Horizons (1996)

Very obscure American (New Orleans specifically) progressive rock gem from the late 90's that holds a special place in my heart: I ran across New Horizons on accident as a sophomore in high school, a time in my life when I knew very little about music beyond what my friends found on MySpace or heard on the radio...and, alongside the output of bands like Camel and The Alan Parsons Project, it was quite a revelation to these ears of mine!

Sonically, it comes off as a rather thoughtful take on territory previously delved into by Yes, Gentle Giant, and some of  the U.S.'s more interesting 70's progressive rock highlights such as Starcastle, Mirthrandir and Cathedral. That being said, these guys are very much their own beast: the arrangements lean closer to jazz-fusion in places than the high-strung art rock of their influences, and are never anything less than intriguing. While only seven tracks in length, they're all classy and interesting: in particular, 'Raging Sun' is simply superb, a stirring opening number that builds into a gorgeous guitar crescendo about halfway through, while the piano led 'Steps Of Eight' and infectious title track exemplify what I like best in prog rock: twists, turns and oodles of harmony.

These fellas didn't make so much as a splash when they released this album back in '96...not even in the progressive rock community. However, it's a diamond in the rough and a shining example of what happens when good bands get even better ideas and decide to record something interesting with 'em.

Try It
Buy It

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