Space Toucan CD Review by Mike Korn
The first review is in, giving Space Toucan a 4 out of 5 stars. Not too shabby…read on below.
Thanks to Mike Korn for his detailed review!
Artist: DAVID COSGROVE
Title: Space Toucan (A Neotropical Dream)
Even if it’s a bumpy ride now and then, Space Toucan is a journey worth taking. Throughout its 16 tracks, you hear creative minds at work exploring many nooks and crannies of the musical jungle. If there’s an occasional misstep (and there is), you can be forgiving because such an explosion of ideas is taking place.
David Cosgrove has been in the music business at many different levels for a long time. Not only are his own musical talents prodigious…he plays keyboards, guitars, bass, woodwinds and percussion…but he’s a composer and engineer with 2 previous CD’s to his credit. It’s fair to say that Space Toucan is his most ambitious project so far.
On the whole, the release is keyboard-oriented progressive rock, but it diverges into other areas like folk-tinged tunes, electronic dance music and even ambient soundscapes. As the title suggests, the tropical theme is present but not overwhelming. It mostly shows up in the form of tribal or samba-sounding percussion. Lyrically, there’s no concept running through the piece.
Most of Space Toucan is instrumental, with non-vocal tracks outnumbering singing ones by a good margin. The album is actually another example of an overlong prog behemoth that judicious pruning could have improved. It’s a 16 track album that would have been better as a 12 track album, but again, the sheer enthusiasm and diversity really helps lighten the load.
The journey starts with a bright and energetic pure prog romp called “Corridors”, where the keyboard-oriented nature of Cosgrove’s material is immediately apparent. This is where the man is at his best, whipping up huge key-driven tunes in the vein of Asia and even Spock’s Beard. The vocals of bassist Chris Huit are earnest but on the flat side. Cosgrove uses several vocalists throughout the album and really none of them are what you’d call outstanding. Mike Cohen has an odd, flat spoken word tone on “Staggering Ted” and “Ego Boy”, both of which are appealing musically but could use a stronger singer. Mitch Banks sings on “No Options” and Mark Palazzo tries his hand on “I Kissed The Ground Today”…both men have clear, pleasant tones but Space Toucan cries out for a really strong, dramatic singer who could do Cosgrove’s tunes justice.
Influences here are all over the map. The name Asia came to mind on several occasions, but the acoustic playing on “I Kissed The Ground Today” and “Staggering Ted” is reminiscent of Supertramp. On the instrumental tunes, names like Alan Parsons Project and Vangelis arise.
Turning to those instrumentals, we get a wide, wide range of sounds. This is where Cosgrove likes to flex his musical muscles….nowhere better than “Space Toucan”, which has such a magnificent, spacy keyboard hook. This is a GREAT instrumental prog song! “Bienvenue a Los Angeles” and “Conozca a Los Leafjumpers” are two brief but catchy and very cinematic tracks. But with the one-two punch of “Metro Morning” and “Junglescape”, Cosgrove takes us through two very long extended jams with the touch of house and electronic dance music. Both are minimalistic and trance-inducing but will test the patience of those expecting typical prog. Of the remaining instrumentals, “Eddie The Hat”, “Burning Leaves” and the very boring “Reachback” could easily have been dropped from the set at no loss. The odd “Threnody” can be described as “electronic medieval” and the album ends with a strong, traditional prog workout in “Soaring Part 11”.
With some necessary snipping and stronger vocals, Space Toucan could have been a prog classic. As it is, it’s still fun and energetic to listen to and features more experimentation than most releases these days.
Review by Mike Korn
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)