Jimmy Hotz

Silver Step Child Jimmy Hotz - Beyond the Crystal Sea (Born Twice) 1979

1. Observations of a Larger Reality (8:32)
.....a. March of the Dead Souls
.....b. Hand of the Most High
2. Night Passage (2:13)
3. The Vision Ship (5:36)
4. Teton (3:18)
5. Beyond the Blues (4:54)
6. Alpine Magin [instrumental] (1:43)
7. From Love Life Did Begin (6:51)
8. Long, Long Ago (5:47)
9. The Gates of Time (3:45)

"Beyond the Crystal Sea" is one of those gems from the 70's that was all but forgotten, until 2010 when Born Twice Records resurrected it for a whole new generation. While the original album was released in '79, this album sounds like it could have been written and recorded in the early 1970's. The style is melodic, progressive rock that would fall somewhere between the more ethereal material from bands like Nektar and King Crimson and the spacey, psychedelic music of Hawkwind or early Pink Floyd. This is the type of music that was created during a time when music was considered art, rather than just a product of which to gain radio hits and sell product.

The music on "Beyond the Crystal Sea" is stacked full of majestic melodies that are built from a combination of keys, synthesizers and guitars. Some of Jimmy Hotz guitar work is surprisingly accomplished, again reminding me of some of those great progressive guitarists from the 70's like Steve Howe and Roye Albrighton. Hotz's melodramatic vocals fit well with the overall spacey vibe of the music. At times his voice reminds me of early Peter Gabriel from his days with Genesis.

To be quite frank, I was unfamiliar with Jimmy Hotz until the release of this CD and when I saw the somewhat cheesy 70's cover art for this album, I wasn't sure what to expect. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this progressive work. Fans of classic 70's Yes, Genesis, Nektar, Be Bop Deluxe, etc. would do themselves well to check this out. Pop this one into your CD player late at night, throw on the headphones, kick band and mellow out to the ethereal sounds that emanate.

The 2010 reissue is completely remastered. Being that I am completely unfamiliar with the original release, I could not say if the mastering has improved or hampered the recording. However, this sounds quite good, with all instruments heard and the volumes up to modern standards, without being overly loud and compressed. The reissue also includes two bonus tracks, both of which are as good as the album tracks themselves.

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