A fair while coming, due to the Covid pandemic and other issues, The Last Temple is the new album from instrumental progressive rock project, THE INNER ROAD. As its predecessors, the release is a collection of tracks which in sound and suggestion take the listener through a kaleidoscope of adventure but an experience which we suggest is the band’s most emotion and imagination involving proposal yet.
THE INNER ROAD is a project formed by keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist/ songwriter/producer Steve Gresswell (COALITION), one which embraces his more symphonic leanings in sound and the weaving of atmospheric fascinations of instrumental and progressive rock. Previous outings, starting with 2011 debut album Visions and subsequently taking in 2015 released Ascension, Sanctuary two years later and The Majestic Garden of 2019 have proved as fascinating as they were so often thickly captivating moments to escape within. As we suggested though, The Last Temple has proved the most enthralling adventure with the band yet, its collection of pieces the vehicles to conjure and weave one’s own realms of possibilities within music’s which is crafted in the rich prowess of involvement and intimation.
The Last Temple sees Gresswell collaborating with guitarist Jacqui Taylor, an artist with the craft and agility to cast evocative explorations in her own right. Her manipulative sonic and melodic strings perfectly align with Gresswell’s symphonic and electronic invention, an instinctive union underpinned by his understated yet driving rhythmic dexterity. Together the pair creates a landscape of stories and emprises for ears and imagination to immerse within, a venture of spiritual and expressive kingdoms of sound and suggestion.
Each track within the release provides an extensive moment to contemplate, every piece of music lengthy in their presence yet never flirting with the chance of outstaying their welcome, as instantly proven by album opening Broken Mirror. Immediately full and robust in presence, the track soon lays a palette of sound and suggestion for the imagination to weave its own scenario, one courting a trespass of shadows but lit in golden melodic hues and evocative textures shared by keys and guitar. Celestial light and portentous dark merge in the track’s body, it all adding to the pure magnetism of the moment.
There is a great Dave Greenfield essence to Gresswell’s keys within The Calling next, the variety and dexterity in his composing and craft swiftly open within the album. A summoning of sound and intimation enhanced by the instrumental use of voice too, as to be found across other tracks, the song soon proved a majorly favourite moment especially as it relaxes to reveal more of its provocative adventure while just as much a trigger for pleasure and thought was next up Hidden Portal, a piece with the insecurity of the unknown and sure touch of warm reassurance in its breath. Once within its realm though, spiritual sanctuary and melodic enlivenment wrapped the senses to further captivate.
Across the likes of the jazzy yet spatially lit Dark Door, a track as involving of the body as the imagination, and the cosmic domain of Star Fall, the release only sparked further eager conjuring with the eventful shuffle of the album’s title track and the gossamer veiled and emotively intimate Light in the Shed weaving further highlights to ignite close companionship between sound and listener.
In many ways The Last Temple is a cathartic experience for the imagination too, Gresswell and Taylor providing canvas, colour and conditions to open up within but also with their own imaginations guiding one’s interpretations. The album’s final pair of Summer Dance and Open Sky offers the same, the first with its folk hued pastoral warmth around deeper contemplation and the latter through its bewitching and indeed haunting serenade where beauty and darker rustlings court one’s state of being.
Together they provide an absorbing close to one enrapturing encounter, The Last Temple for us the finest exploration with THE INNER ROAD yet for the richest pleasure.
The Last Temple is available now @ https://theinnerroad.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-temple
Pete RingMaster 10/04/2023
Copyright RingMaster Review