Foreign Land by The Far MeadowRelease date: April 12, 2019
Label: Bad Elephant Music
Three years ago, I discovered perhaps one of the most quintessential progressive rock quintets that have been around for seven years. That band is The Far Meadow. They have released two studio albums from 2012 to 2016 (Where Joys Around and Given the Impossible). And it wasn’t just honoring the genre, but what the quintet have done is to keep the flaming fires burning more. That and their third studio album released via Bad Elephant Music, Foreign Land showcases their sound and storytelling complexes by bringing it to the forefront. And Brian Mitchell’s artwork has this science-fiction/fantasy atmosphere to capture those stories by showcasing the band’s passage of time throughout these parallel universes they tell throughout the centerpieces from the album.
Clocking in at 18 minutes and 36 seconds, ‘Travelogue’ starts the album off with Eliot Minn’s atmospheric intro with some sax to lift the spirit of Richard Wright from Pink Floyd as he honors the arrangements of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ before setting sails with some incredible waves crashing down with a militant rhythmic section between him, Paul Bringloe’s drumming, and Warren’s guitar.
Marguerita sings “Don’t push me to the left now/Don’t pull me to the right now/Not moving any further, no room to let you in/They push me from behind now/I stab them in the back now/Not moving any further/The walls are closing in!” From the moment Marguerita sings that line, it shows that she is finally being free after being pushed around.
And this time, she’s pushing back with a gigantic battering ram that is ready to strike at any second. You could tell that Jon Anderson, Geddy Lee, and Solstice’s Sandy Leigh are going to be in awe of her presence and knowing that The Far Meadow still carries that torch. I love how Eliot channels Keith Emerson’s ‘The Three Fates’ and the brief section of his score that he did for the first season of the 1994 Animated Series from Marvel, ‘Iron Man’.
He would take his keyboards and delve deeper into these sombering locations as he would ascend upwards towards the skies. Sometimes classical and insane concerto-like structures, the band would follow him to see where he will land next. Keith’s bass lines are similar to the introduction of Roxy Music’s ‘Bitter-Sweet’.
He and Eliot honor the Art Rock masters before Warren channels the bluesy horizons of David Gilmour. Listening to ‘Sulis Rise’ is The Far Meadow’s tipping of the hat to the Welsh Prog masters, Magenta. They honor both Rob Reed and Christina Booth with some nods of the ‘80s synths resembling Rush’s ‘Moving Pictures’ and the styles of Greenslade’s sole self-titled debut release from 1972.
When I was listening to ‘Mud’ from the opening sequences, I could imagine that Eliot was writing a score to a video game like it was recorded in 1991 for the sessions of ‘Super Castlevania IV’ for the Super Nintendo. But I can imagine that one day that The Far Meadow could do something like that in the near future. But let’s get back to the track.
It has this dystopian nightmare that has landed and Marguerita brings this song in the form of a new ruler and is finding the struggle to escape this hellhole that she’s in and trying to realize that the damage she’s created. It then becomes an Italian-Prog like scale as Eliot rises more to give Denis a chance to shine through the ashes by segueing into ‘The Fugitive.’ From the heart and droning atmosphere to Paul’s jazzy structures, it becomes this fast-speeding chase to search for the criminal as Keith goes into this Beatle-like bass line. As he and Denis channel their own take of the SynthAxe by honoring the late great Allan Holdsworth.
The Far Meadow have finally come a long way and they’re almost getting close to Emerald City in the land of Oz. And they’re making sure to follow in Dorothy’s footsteps for all the accomplishments she has achieved from beginning to end. And Foreign Land is quite the journey they’ve embarked on. And it’s an adventure you continue to live through again and again.