Review of Stargazer 2 – Steve Bonino Project – Melodic Revolution Records
By Robert Craven
Steve Bonino’s work-rate as a musician and songwriter is exceptional as there is a consistent striving for the highest quality output – and, STARGAZER 2, maintains that incredibly high standard.
In the best tradition of RUSH’s Cygnus X1, YES’s Tales of Topographic Oceans and to a degree, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, Bonino and co-writer Linda Kay weave a narrative interwoven with assured musicianship on the 11 tracks.
The studio band of Bonino (vocal, guitar, bass & programming), stalwart Peter Matuchniak (lead guitar), Mike Lewis, Marco Minnemann & Jimmy Keegan (live drums), Erik Johnston (rhythm guitar) and Seth Lewis (backing vocals) create an aural premise of human settlement on a new world – PROXIMA B. This album follows on from last year’s release STARGAZER, priming the story twenty years on from the arrival of the intergalactic settlers.
Opening with the wonderfully evocative ‘The Grand Finale’, the band create a landscape other-worldy using complex programming and off-time polyrhythms harking back to 1970’s pro-rock but given a 21st century spin. The following 10 tracks take the listener into the world of Bonino and Kay’s creation, a novel within an album – The Dark Light Divide, City Out of Time,Hyperspeed Overdrive and ‘The Ancient Sumerian’ propel the music, the ideas and the concepts in a satisfactory, cohesive whole. There’s no weak element to this project, Matuchniak captures the simplicity of Dave Gilmore, but adds a slight punk twist to his solos which offset to Bonino’s southern Californian grooves.
This album challenges the listener, when you replay it over again, and there you get your reward; it could be trite, it could be twee, but STARGAZER 2 is accomplished, polished and whip-smart in its conception and execution.
Melodic Revolution Records are spear-heading Progressive Rock – certainly STARTGAZER / STARGAZER 2 point to a new wave of Prog-Rock coming out of the USA, and that is no bad thing.
Outstanding tracks – The Grand Finale, The Dark Light Divide, Codex and Under the Dome.
It’s a real pleasure to watch an artist of Bonino’s calibre grow and evolve album by album.
About Robert Craven