Ian Neal: Astro

A space odyssey from one of prog’s best-kept secret.

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When Prog last spoke to Ian Neal, back in March 2012, the Derbyshire multi-instrumentalist confessed to being hopeless with promotion. The low-key build-up to the release of his third solo album, space odyssey Astro, suggests that this compelling musician is destined to remain prog’s best-kept secret.

However given the often gentle, always mesmeric quality of his work – already heard on 2005’s All In The Golden Afternoon and 2011’s Out Of The Woods – one suspects this is exactly how Neal likes it.

The kind of lustrous, effervescent music he trades in – think a delicately poised mix of prog, electronica and classical themes – is not only a joy to listen to, but if it were to reach the ears of the wider prog audience, well… Centred around the 12-minute epic Aro, this weaves a hypnotic spell that combines the prodigious keyboard talent of Rick Wakeman with both the early exuberance and later deftness of touch of Mark Kelly.

Neal’s vocal on the opening Jardin des Étoiles, suggests he is slowly emerging from his shell, while the segue between Solaris and Citadel displays his mastery of light and shade. Prog forums are awash with pleas for new music suggestions. Here’s one.