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Tinyfish - Tinyfish

TinyfishLet us take a moment to give thanks to the humble attic. That awkward space at the top of your house; home to a lifetime's jumble of neglected household items or transformed into a living space worthy of an estate agent's purple prose. Victorian writers starved in their garrets and the modern day equivalent of the emaciated romantic scribe has to be the hungry prog band. Fitting then, that Tinyfish built a recording studio in their attic.

It seems to be a good time to be into prog, there are quite a number of promising new bands coming through. Tinyfish, like many other of their contemporaries are not entirely new to the musical world, having all participated on the live stage over time. The main historical point of reference would be the semi-legendary 80s neo-prog band Freefall which contained three of the members of Tinyfish: Simon Godfrey, Jim Sanders and Paul Worwood. Joined now by lyricist Rob Ramsey, they have produced a self assured debut album.

Two years in the making, up in that erstwhile loft, Tinyfish the album is a contemporary mix of mood, composition and speech. Bracketing and punctuating the album are 3 tracks of prose underscored by instrumentation: Motorville, All Of The People All Of The Time and Tinyfish. Written and recited by Rob Ramsey the tone of them adds a slight Sci-Fi feel to the album in that oh-so-now style of near future dystopias. I can't help but feel that Rob has a really good book inside him somewhere.

Having two guitarists, Simon and Jim but no keyboard player lends a different air to the band. Without having that prog standby of waves of synth available, the band are able to ensure that their songs stand on their own feet. There is no tricksy-ness for the sake of gross over-complication, this is a prog band without a widdle or twiddle to its name. Synths are by no means absent, being used in guitar synth format, as they should, to add atmosphere to tracks not to drown them in a leaden soup of electronica. Also missing is that other great staple of the genre: constantly changing time signatures. As with the synth work, these are used sparingly and when the song demands them.

Mood wise, the album evokes later era Floyd, Big Big Train, and Echolyn on the more mellow tracks and harks back to classic rock acts such as Rush on the more up-tempo numbers. Nine Months On Fire is a perfect example, coming on with a Chinese-like introduction before breaking into a bit of a meaty riff. Old habits must die hard though and the mellower middle section is a pure retro neo interlude. The tale of a man who pursues a Da Vinci code like exploration of the dark side of religion, it lends a satisfyingly unsettling edge in contrast to the very melodic nature of the song itself.

Other tracks worthy of mention include the most typically proggy of the tracks on here, Motorville. The warm and gentle ballad Fly Like A Bird whose melody has a tendancy to float back into your head long after you've played the album. Continuing in the darker vibe are the matched tales of vampirism, Too High For Low Company firstly strutting along like a cat in the shadows and Sundried, a reprise of that first track but recreated perfectly with just a string section showing that sometimes less is indeed more. Finally the longest song from the album, All Hands Lost at 12 1/2 minutes, manages to meld a number of different styles well with the transitions not jarring or feeling awkward at all. Moving from a mellow jazzy opening touching a bit of classic era Genesis and 70s rock - I could have sworn I heard some of this track played at the Red Lion, Brentford and other insalubrious spot and sawdust venues decades back - the track lands firmly in the end back in neo territory for a nicely judged finale.

If I had any criticism, it would be that a number of the songs just don't end well, either just stopping in an embarrassed kind of way: God Eat God or tailing off in an end that doesn't really say anything: Too High For Low Company. However that is a minor niggle and won't detract from what is a good solid debut from a band that obviously gels incredibly well together. Tinyfish took their name from the conceit that they are very small fish in a large prog pond. If they can reproduce the album live in the near future then they have every chance of growing from a minnow to a nice chunky perch in no time.

Jane Vincent



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