by Alexandra Mrozowska
– Sr. Columnist —
Having more than one album coming out over a relatively short time span often involves a risk of unnecessary haste and dreadful repetitiveness. The shorter the period between the two release dates is, the more reviewers and listeners will end up comparing the former and the latter. After all – if an album is supposed to mirror the current musical vision and aspirations of its maker, the similar vibe to both can be hardly avoided… In the face of all this, the first encounter with what the British keyboard player Darrel Treece-Birch releases now – fourteen months after his previous album No More Time – seems to prove all assumptions wrong.
Anyone familiar with No More Time will instantly notice that the eclectic, grandiose feel so typical to the 2016 release is lost here. The sound of Healing Touch is lush, thick and intense, almost trance-like (“The Release”), and at certain times even ominous (“Cast It Out”). Complexity and length of ten instrumental tracks on the album (especially the album’s over twelve-minute long opener) pay a tribute to Treece-Birch’s everlasting fascination with Progressive Rock. On the other hand, the heavy use of Korg keyboards reveals his early enthrallment with Electronic and ambient music, while simultaneously giving the album its unique, synth-laden flavor. The addition of non-keyboard instruments and the overall intensity of sound create a surprisingly heavy vibe to the entire album, even in spite of some of the tracks (“The Fruits Of The Spirit”) having an almost ephemeral aura to them. And although it’s naturally the aforementioned keyboards/synthesizers that dominate over the rest of the instrumental content, it doesn’t mean that Healing Touch is keyboard-oriented only – the epic guitar work in the final track “God’s Medicine” basically speaks for itself.
Still, you can’t treat No More Time as Healing Touch’s predecessor as the 2017 release is not as much an addition to Darrel Treece-Birch’s discography as it is a reworked, re-recorded version of his 2004 self-released album. That fact explains a lot, from the one-man-band formula used in the recordings to obvious aesthetic differences in comparison to No More Time. Major changes were introduced in comparison with the original 2004 release, the 432 Hz tuning replacing the 440 Hz and electronic bass guitar and drums parts being replaced with real ones. This, alongside the addition of extra keyboard layers and guitar parts, makes Healing Touch a portion of music worth revisiting and expanding upon, the process of discovering (or re-discovering) it being as fascinating as it can be. It’s kind of difficult to classify it genre-wise, that is true; but isn’t that a common trait of great albums? Progressive as far as song structure and arrangement is concerned, but also tastefully melodic and full of lush electronic sounds, Healing Touch is a compelling mixture of Darrel Treece-Birch’s inspirations old and new. And even if it’s a musical journey an ordinary Rock fan doesn’t experience that often, it’s surely one worth taking.
Genre: Progressive Rock, Instrumental
All instruments Darrel Treece-Birch:
Korg Keyboards (Trinity, Triton Extreme, Kronos)
Ibanez bass guitar, Takamine G series,
Sheraton Epiphone guitar, Mapex drums, and Zildjian cymbals
1. God’s Prescription
2. From The Mouth
3. Cast It Out
5. The Fruits Of The Spirit
6. The Stand
7. The Release
8. The Expanse
9. No Fear Here
10. God’s Medicine
Label: Melodic Revolution Records
Hardrock Haven rating: (9 / 10)