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about

A review of Rain by Phil Stiles.
www.sonicabuse.com/2014/02/freedom-to-glide-rain-album-review/

Freedom to Glide are a progressive rock band from England. Featuring Pete Riley and Andy Nixon, both of whom play in a Pink Floyd tribute band, Freedom to Glide draw together the sound of Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Porcupine Tree on an album that is very much the spiritual successor to ‘The Final Cut’ with its conceptual theme of the costs of war. Beautifully played and perfectly recorded, ‘Rain’ is a throwback to the sublime melodies and fluid guitar work of ‘WYWH’-era Floyd with a touch of ‘Starless and Bible Black’ era Crimson thrown in for good measure. Poignant and intelligently written, there is no surprise that the album gained a number of plaudits (including Prog Mill album of the year) upon its release.

Opening with ‘Rain (part 1)’ the band craftily repeat the trick of ‘shine on you crazy diamond’ with the music starting in a swell of synth sound (presumably not wine glasses though!) before introducing the gently keening guitars and after a slow, gentle build up, the very English vocals which recall David Gilmour crossed with Steven Wilson. Built around the heart-breaking lyric “so my brothers fell like rain” it draws the listener straight into the heart of the album’s concept whilst the melody is so haunting it will stay with you for days after. In the best progressive tradition ‘Anywhere Else But Here’ is a short, hypnotic segue that draws the listener to the harder edged ‘path of reason’ which adds a more Porcupine Tree feel to proceedings with its driving riff, subtle piano embellishments and funky rhythms. The music is recorded with amazing depth and clarity, allowing the melodies to shine out from the heart of the song, and it’s clear that a lot of work must have gone into achieving such a beautifully clean, organic sound.

Having indulged in rockier fare, Freedom to glide slow things down for the acoustic ‘Riders On A Wave’, a melodic and tender ballad that considers the necessary submission of ordinary men under arms to those in power in the hope that the latter know what they are doing. The music is beautiful, but for the ‘riders on a wave’ the position is hopeless and fate is dictated by faceless overlords whose decisions are never justified, explained or even criticised if things go wrong. It takes great skill to take such a difficult subject and turn it into such a beautiful song, but Freedom to glide make it seem easy. More complex and showcasing the album at its darkest, ‘Price Of Freedom’ covers the difficult topic of betrayal in foreign lands and leaves the soldiers lost and dying halfway around the world. Another brief segue (‘L-U-2’) is a simple vocal backed by lonely piano before the band utilise the well-worn trick of shuffling across radio stations to arrive at the lush melancholy of ‘Rain (part 2)’. ‘Angels And Stones’ is a short, dark track that is shrouded in sinister ambience and the dimming of the light, before heading back to the album’s central theme with ‘Rain (part 3)’.

One of the most ambitious tracks on the album, ‘When The Whistle Blows’ is a lengthy, two-part track that covers the experience of a soldier going to war with admirable lyrical ingenuity and quite remarkable musical prowess. Clearly the album is a labour of love and born of strong personal conviction, all of which is represented in the carefully crafted music and the sublime solos which are played with a fluid grace and elegance that few can achieve. ‘Trying To Grow Young’ is another segue that drifts dreamily into the somnambulant pulse of ‘Rain (part 4)’, a song that draws upon ‘Wall’-era Pink Floyd with a delay-enhanced guitar line and even a choir bought in to augment the refrain. Perhaps the most poignant moment sees the Ode of remembrance set to gentle synth on ‘Home Again’ before the album slips quietly into the instrumental ‘One Hundred And Twenty’. The final track, ‘Not A Broken Man’, deals, again with a grace and candour that can only come from a lifetime of contemplation upon the subject, with the survivor guilt and psychological wounds of those who do return from great battles and leaves, impressed upon the listener, a genuine empathy for those who have suffered the horrors of war.

When Roger Waters wrote ‘The final cut’, he crafted a powerful album and one that, with time, has grown in stature. However, his vicious polemic alienated some who felt he had politicised a topic that needed to be treated as a universal issue rather than one of any single government and, as a result, the terrible sadness that was communicated by that album did not reach as wide an audience as perhaps it should. ‘Rain’, to a large extent, readdresses the balance. By focusing on the very personal experience of a soldier at war, rather than on the political machinations that landed him there, ‘Rain’ is an album that can appeal to us all and draw sympathy for us all. The lyrics are perfectly written, balancing poignancy with historical accuracy and the dictates of rhyme and meter, and despite treading the well-worn theme of war, they feel as if they have something new and important to say about the subject – no mean feat. The music, meanwhile, is sublime on every level. With a sound that recalls ‘DSOTM’ and ‘WYWH’ in terms of clarity and depth and a level of musicianship that so very few attain, ‘Rain’ is a near perfect album that should be compulsory listening for progressive fans. A modern classic, Freedom to glide have created a true masterpiece that mingles beauty with sadness over its 63 gorgeous minutes.

credits

released 11 November 2013

Andy Nixon - Vocals, guitars, bass, programming.
Pete Riley - Piano, synthesizers, organ.

Guests:
Francesca Genco - Additional backing vocals
Stephen Bell - Trumpet
Elation Community Voices - Choir
Geoffrey Watts Riley - Spoken word
Lydia Wilson - Spoken word

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Track Name: Rain (part 1)
They filled our hearts they filled our minds
They’d be safe behind the lines
There’d be no way that we could fail
Hoist the flag and set the sails

So my brothers fell like rain
Every rain drop bares a name
The storm will rise the sky will fall
A bitter lesson for us all

The weight of truth lay in our eyes
Heavy hearts and leaden skies
Stood together in the rain
Will we ever be the same?

So my brothers fell like rain
Every rain drop bares a name
The meek will rise the might will fall
A bitter lesson for us all

Our Fathers knew we had to go
To show our faces to the foe
Our Mother's eyes gave them away
And told us more than they would ever say
Track Name: Anywhere Else But Here
After the storm has ended
After the tide has turned
How long the road to the lesson learned?
Seeing walls defended
And watching bridges burn
Flies in the face of a lesson learned

Riding tides and catching waves
History writes another page
And falls like a leaf into the stream
And as the stars are winding
As the world is turning
We're rolled like the wheels of this machine
Track Name: Path Of Reason
When I stray from the path of reason
I rest in the hands of faith
I fall for the pseudo freedom
I fall beneath the weight

Contemplate, speculate, communicate, advocate
Recreate the truth that’s lost in time
Manipulate, fabricate, propagate, subjugate
History is just an endless rhyme

Wading through the information
Through waves of unfamiliar lies
Drown in an ocean of sedation
Catch the wave ride the tide

Time will close another chapter
Time will turn another page
Look for the happy ever after
Beyond the fury beyond the rage

After the storm has ended, after the tide has turned
How long the road to the lesson learned?
Seeing walls defended, and watching bridges burn
Flies in the face of a lesson learned

Contemplate, speculate,
Instigate, separate,
Desecrate the peace of hearts and minds
Dominate, violate,
Devastate, annihilate
History is just an endless rhyme

Wading through the information
Through waves of unfamiliar lies
Drown in an ocean of sedation
Catch the wave ride the tide

After the storm has ended, after the tide has turned
How long the road to the lesson learned?
Seeing walls defended, and watching bridges burn
Flies in the face of a lesson learned

And the river flows
Like the sands of time
And tomorrow knows
It's just an endless rhyme....It's just an endless rhyme..... It's just an endless rhyme.....
Track Name: Riders On A Wave
Fooled again
By those in who we put our faith
Into this house we are born
Face to face
The situation kept us safe
There’ll be no shelter from this storm

First the fear grows then the cold wind blows

We’re just riders on a wave
We’re just riders on a wave that breaks
On a tide that takes
As the wind blows

Head to head
The worst case plan put into action
So is this how the end begins?
Eye to eye
In this shelter of distraction
We’re at the mercy of the wind

First the fear grows then the cold wind blows

We’re just riders on a wave
We’re just riders on a wave that breaks
On a tide that takes
As the wind blows

We’re just riders on a wave
We’re just riders on a wave that breaks
On a tide that takes
On a tide that takes
As the wind blows
As the wind blows
As the wind blows (riders on the wave)
As the wind blows (riders on the wave)......
Track Name: Price Of Freedom
We set sail from Liverpool, Nova Scotia bound
The William Sail would take us from Halifax to Cape Town
Through every kind of sea no destination known
Half the way around the world, a universe from home

We’re just ordinary men sent to fight a cause
Wherever fate may lead us, foreign fields and distant shores
Hugging the coast of Africa to our next port of call
We sail by Madagascar as events unfold that would affect us all

With our futures at the hands
Of the will of a chosen few
We’re expected to deliver
We’re expected to come through
And our fates have led us here
To be currency for the bitter price of freedom

Laid up in Mombasa waiting, decisions being made
Plans that would decide our destiny and test our faith no matter how well laid
Be it desert or the jungle one thing we all knew
Ill-equipped and undertrained for either of the two

With our futures at the hands
Of the will of a chosen few
Who expect us to deliver
Who expect us to come through
So our fates have led us here
To be currency for the bitter price of freedom

So we sailed toward the rising sun, to save the island “bastion”
Lovers, Brothers, Fathers, Sons, the innocent defrauded young
Defenders of a naked Isle, Expendable, the rank and file
We were born into this century, Wither summons destiny

So our fates have led us here
And this island will fall
And the writing will be clear
As our backs hit the wall
Sold down the river on the blackest of days
For those who survive there’ll be hell to pay
Track Name: LU2
I watch the moonlight
It scans the floor
The pull of love
The tug of war

As red as anger
The sun will rise
We’ll hold our nerve beneath
An unforgiving sky

I wonder if you know
I wonder if you’re still
I wonder if I’ll fall
Some have, more will.
Track Name: Rain (part 2)
I watched them fall like rain
I watched them fall like rain
I watched them fall like rain
I watched them fall like rain
Something had to give
Something had to go
Though we'd held on, we'd held on
Some of us were saved
Some of us would fall
Though we'd held on, for so long
We dreamed a safe return
Allowed our hearts to burn
But how could we hope that our Hell would be gone
It had clearly defined our existence for so long
I watched them fall like rain
I watched them fall like rain
Track Name: Angels and Stones
To the darkest corners
My memory sheds its light
Through the murky waters
Shadows in the night

Fly like an angel fall like a stone

Take away the sun
I'm blinded by its light
Let the shadows fall
And slip into the night

Fly like an angel fall like a stone
Fly like an angel fall like a stone
Fly like an angel

Every step I take another folded memory holds me down
Every page another face with every sight and every sound

Flying like angels falling like stones
Flying like angels falling like stones
Flying like angels

They filled our hearts they filled our minds
They'd be safe behind the lines
There'd be no way that we could fail
Hoist the flag and set the sails
Track Name: Wind and Gales - Rain (part 3)
Through the panes of broken glass
See the lessons of the past
Watch hypocrisy unfold
From the mouths of open goals

Fractured earth November sky
Minds too young to doubt the lie
Changing winds and shifting gales
Find the secrets on the dial
In the shadow of the style
The Devil's in the detail

Changing winds and shifting gales
(So my brothers fell like rain)
Hoist the flag and set the sails
(So my brothers fell like rain)
Tie your faith onto the rails
(So my brothers fell like rain)

Memories too close to the bone
The stare from angels made of stone
Stood like dominoes in chains
The fate of youth lay in the hands
That built their castles made of sand
So my brothers fell like rain

Changing winds and shifting gales
(So my brothers fell like rain)
Hoist the flag and set the sails
(So my brothers fell like rain)
Tie your faith onto the rails
(So my brothers fell like rain)

They filled our hearts they filled our minds
They’d be safe behind the lines
There’d be no way that we could fail
Hoist the flag and set the sails

Something had to give, something had to go
Some of us were saved and some of us would fall
Though we'd held on
Though we'd held on

The World we knew would leave our hearts
And crumble like a house of cards
A certain sense of freedom
Track Name: When The Whistle Blows
Part 1

From Cumberland to Gallipoli
The Eden to the Somme
Young boys on a journey
They’d been called upon

The call that came from Kitchener
Was coloured by their pride
For Glory, King and Country
Such unfamiliar lies

So they answered the call
And the rain would fall
Red the river flows
When the whistle blows


He hated all the generals
Can’t you see what you have done?
Sending burning flying steel through flesh and bone
Of another mother’s son

So the tables turned (You’ll only hear what we want you to hear)
While the home fires burned (You’ll only hear what we want you to hear)
Red the river flows (You’ll only hear what we want you to hear)
When the whistle blows


Part 2

You take the shilling you’re ours day and night
So go on the whistle you’re here to fight
Over the top while we play our games
Do as you’re ordered and fall like rain

From the man that returned not a word has been said
About 14 to 18 or the blood that was shed
The nightmares may fade but the scars never heal
So silence remained over Flanders fields

So they answered the call
And the rain would fall

Then the field would fall silent
Just the sound of a lone voice in no man’s land
Barely out of school with his life on the line
And he’s calling out for his mother’s hand

So they answered the call
And the rain would fall
Red the river flows
When the whistle blows

A hand full of medals a picture or two
Remind us forever of what he went through
Robert Wilson a father, a son
His childhood ended at the Somme with a gun
Track Name: Trying To Grow Young
Take our picture from the wall see the shadow left behind
By the four years of our youth that left us old before our time
Let the hands turn on the clock face let the sun fade from the sky
Those of us that made it home would spend the rest of our lives trying to grow young
Track Name: Rain (part 4)
They filled our hearts they filled our minds
They’d be safe behind the lines
There’d be no way that we could fail
Hoist the flag and set the sails

So my brothers fell like rain
So my brothers fell like rain
So my brothers fell like rain
So my brothers fell like rain........
Track Name: Not A Broken Man
Broken bones will mend
But broken hearts and promises
Are taken to the end
Scars and calluses

Fissures in my soul
Flaws in every plan
Fault lines in my heart
But not a broken man


I’ve seen the mighty fall
To depths I’ve never known
They hit the water hard
And sink like a stone

They’re broken in the wheel
Beaten by the bigger plan
Wounds that never heal
And I’m not a broken man


The Hounds of fate can wait
But they won’t be denied
The slowing of the wheel
The rising of the tide

My memory serves me well
Keeps me close enough to heaven
Far enough from hell
I’m not a broken man
I’m not a broken man
I’m not a broken man