[Review] DBA (Downes Braide Association) – Halcyon Hymns

DBA (Downes Braide Association) was formed as a studio-based project by Geoff Downes (The Buggles, Yes, Asia)  and Chris Braide (Award winning songwriter &  producer). The musical style of the project revolves around the Neo Prog with Pop veins, technically of a high level but at the same time easy to grasp, without too intricate passages and with more linear structures, while remaining in the Prog field. “Halcyon Hymns” is the fourth DBA collaboration album and follows their previous critically-acclaimed studio albums “Pictures of You” (2012), “Suburban Ghosts” (2015) and “Skyscraper Souls” (2017). The duo also released “Live In England” (2019) recorded at their first ever concert at Trading Boundaries, East Sussex, in 2018. Divided into two parts, 12 audio tracks on CD and 4 on DVD, including the drawing sessions of Roger Dean, author of the album graphics. Available on Vinyl, CD / DVD and Digital via DBA Records/Nightfly Records, it consists of 12 medium-long duration tracks, in which there are two important guests on vocals, Marc Almond and David Longdon. I state that this album, while falling into the Progressive Rock category, has slightly different characteristics from the Progressive that purists of the genre expect to hear. Much more delicate and dreamy, centered on soft keyboard melodies, sporadic guitar interventions, centered on the narration of contents rather than intricate musical excursions. The result is a set of songs halfway between refined and classy Pop, and a delicate and harmonious Prog Rock, much more accessible and ‘easy’ than the usual plays of the genre, but not trivial. This work demonstrates how compositional complexity and virtuosity are not always the only secret of a successful Prog album. Obviously the purists of the genre will not be 100% happy, but this album can be heard and appreciated by a much wider audience. From the very first bars of the opening track you can sense the sound imprinting that the album will also have in the following tracks, with bass lines of the highest level and easy but technically surprising sound interlacing. Cheerful melodies alternate with other softer ones without ever losing that emotional vein and pathos that characterize this production. The vocal is precise and is best suited to all the situations that the album presents, including the appearances of the two guests, a real added value. Easy to get carried away by the musical atmospheres of this record, which flows pleasant and engaging for the entire duration of the 12 tracks, always leaving us with excellent sensations at the end of each track. As they say, those who get off to a good start are halfway there and this 2021, thanks also to this production, seems to have started in the best way. A listening recommended to all lovers of Prog and not, given its immediacy and simplicity, without falling into banal, well-executed and excellent production. An album that will surely leave its mark, emotional and full of pathos, another excellent chapter in the discography of Downes and his partner Braide, who with this project are one of the certainties of the world music scene.

Tracklist CD

01.Love Among The Ruins
02.King Of The Sunset
03.Your Heart Will Find The Way
04.Holding The Heavens
06.Warm Summer Sun
08.Hymn To Darkness
09.She’ll Be Riding Horses
10.Late Summer

Tracklist DVD

01. Roger Dean Painting Session
02. Love Among the Ruins
03. Your Heart Will Find the Way
04. Today


Geoffrey Downes / Keyboards, Piano, Programming, Vocoder
Chris Braide / Keyboards, Piano, Programming, Lead Vocals
Marc Almond / Vocals
David Longdon / Vocals

Downes Braide Association |Official Website|Facebook Page|Twitter|Spotify|YouTube Channel|

Nightfly Records |Official Website|Bandcamp|Facebook Page|Twitter|Instagram|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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