1992 (SI Music)
With “Solitary Witness”, London prog band Landmarq got off to a particularly good start in 1992 and that is largely due to Damian Wilson, their singer. The 22-year-old Wilson is new to the band at the time. With his elastic voice he is nothing like his singing prog colleagues who often show Gabriel and Collins traits. No, Wilson has more of a Robert Plant-like (Led Zeppelin) voice which you can clearly hear behind every note he sings as there is a large lung capacity and a lot of technique.
It’s all pretty personal what Wilson does and the same can be said of his bandmates, although Uwe D’Rose’s lead guitar having an undeniable Camelvibe. The band sound is clear and fresh, clean and transparent. Landmarq does not impress with bombastic passages but rather comes with strong compositions and golden interpretations.
The bouncy Killing Fields immediately shows how things are going. Initially it is a staccato song with many tingling keys and stately parts bass guitar. The vocals are driven, there is tight drumming and here and there some synchrony. A long melodic guitar solo with clear strings cuts through the spectrum and then returns to the vocal piece. Partly due to Wilson’s somewhat pinching voice, it has a grim atmosphere and we regularly find that on the album. Take Foxing The Fox or Tippi Hedren, for example. Clive Nolan, also producer of the album, has written the lyrics of the latter and since Hedren is the lead actress in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller The Birds it has not become light-hearted writing.
The album contains two songs that stand out as far as I’m concerned, both musically and in length. Forever Young is a poignant piece with a sizzling middle section where Wilson really lashes out, while the band has its finest moment with the epic Suite – St. Helens. It wouldn’t have looked out of place on Camel’s “Nude.”
There are also two instrumentals present. April First, composed by keyboardist Steve Leigh, is a bizarre one. It’s about the day Leigh’s girlfriend went to the hospital to give birth but at the same time had surgery for cancer she didn’t know she had at the time. It is a striking song where joy and sadness alternate. An almost classical ending shows Leigh’s class as a composer.
Actually, every song has something worth mentioning. For example, the somewhat robust Terracotta Army has an oriental slant since it is an excavation of a 2000-year-old Chinese army. After I Died Somewhere is a beautiful ballad about eternal life with a formidable guitar solo at the end. The closing Borders is of different origin than the previous songs. It’s a farewell song, a sing-along.
“Solitary Witness” can be seen as a pleasant explosion of talent. Landmarq delivers a blow that is noticeable for a long time. Collect them with love; the enormous quality that the men deliver here. The album may contain the song Forever Young; The whole album has eternal life. I would say Landmarq forever.