Days Between Stations
(Bright Orange Records BCD-1067)

From Aural Innovations #39 (May 2008)

Days Between Stations is the duo of guitarist Sepand Samzadeh and keyboardist Oscar Fuentes, along with numerous guests, most notably Jon Mattox on drums and Vivi Rama on bass rounding out the band. Their debut is a set of beautifully atmospheric rock instrumentals that, despite the band’s insistence to the contrary, seem to be heavily influenced by Dark Side of the Moon/Wish You Were Here era Pink Floyd.

Samzadeh and Fuentes say that Pink Floyd was barely in their mind-set when the album was conceived, but the atmospheric soundscapes have a very Floydian feel to them. Samzedah’s fluid guitar phrasing also bears a similarity to David Gilmour’s and the histrionic vocal solo by Hollie (no last name is given in the credits) on the second track, Either/Or bears more than a passing resemblance to Clare Torry’s famous vocal on The Great Gig in the Sky. Unlike Floyd, however, the music has no lyrics (vocals are all wordless), and Fuentes focuses more often on solo’s with his arsenal of modern synths (to great effect I might add...his lengthy solo near the end of Either/Or is simply superb). In fact, I’m not drawing this comparison to be critical of the band or the album. I’m saying it because I think Floyd fans (of which I am one) would love this album, because it has all the qualities we love about Floyd, but it is distinctly different enough as well to be something fresh and original.

The album opens with the 13-½ minute Requiem For the Living, a very slowly building piece that exudes melancholy. The soundscapes of this piece are very symphonic in nature, almost classical sounding at times, with some very cinematic piano runs propelling them forward. Jeffery Samzadeh provides an almost tortured vocal in the early part of the song, a melodic moan that is in line with piece being a “requiem”. Halfway through, the piece shifts to more of a rock bent, with lovely slide guitar (by second guitarist Jeremy Castillo), and shimmering, complex melodies.

The aforementioned Either/Or is one of the standout pieces on the album, a 7-½ minute compostion that flows through three distinct parts; it’s dramatic instrumental opening (with dazzling guitar from Samzedah), Hollie’s vocal solo in the middle, and Fuentes atmospheric synth solo closing out the piece.

A series of shorter pieces follow, including two brief, atmospheric “Intermissions”, the sometimes spooky, sometimes beautiful How to Seduce a Ghost (again with excellent guitar work from Samzedah, joined once more by second guitarist Castillo), and the perhaps tongue in cheek Radio Song, the most un-Floydian piece on the album, an upbeat, motorik rocker, with plucking, staccato synths, vocoder and a peppy brass section!

The lengthy Laudanum closes the album. Clocking in at over 22-minutes, it opens with complex atmospheric textures, dextrous bass and drum rhythms, shimmering piano runs and some Dick Parry-esque sax by Jason Hemmens. There is one thing I will say here, that although the sound seems influenced by Floyd, the arrangements and performances are much more complex in nature than Floyd usually was known for. All the musicians are superb players, and none of them shy away from solos that are usually expressive and very moving. The dynamics of Laudanum give a chance for every musician involved to shine without being show-offy in any way. The lushly atmospheric passage that begins in the second half of the piece is beautifully constructed, with rich layers of synth drones, haunting guitar shrieks, and slow, throbbing percussive rhythms, alternating between slightly more minimalist sections and swells of more melodic and symphonic parts. It takes us all the way to the end of the piece, closing out the album with the striking addition of some poignant horns (in a section subtitled The Wake...perhaps echoing the Requiem of the albums opening?).

Floyd influenced or not, Days Between Stations have cut a very excellent debut full of passion and with some terrific performances. Well worth checking out.

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Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

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