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David Cross Band - Ice Blue Silver Sky

  by Adrian Janes

published: 4 / 5 / 2024

David Cross Band - Ice Blue Silver Sky
Label: Noisy
Format: CD


Veteran progressive violinist David Cross leads fresh renditions of his own band’s songs and two King Crimson classics

David Cross played violin in the King Crimson incarnation of the early 1970s. Clearly this period remains important to him, as ‘Ice Blue Silver Sky’ features fine covers of that band’s ‘Exiles’ and ‘Starless’, as well as some new versions of his own group’s past material. Snippets of intra-band conversations are used to link the tracks, in a manner that recalls such use of speech on ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. Here, though, it’s musical rather than existential concerns that feature. Coupled with the choice of songs, there is a retrospective aura to the album, even though the playing (especially Cross’s) is full of freshness and undimmed emotion. This album is firmly in the prog rock tradition, meaning that both appropriate virtuosity (e.g. the guitar solo that ends ‘Nurse Insane’) and a degree of self-indulgence (e.g. the changes of tempo on ‘Calamity’) are displayed at different times. Yet it is the Crimson songs, at nearly 15 minutes apiece the longest tracks by some distance, which are the most satisfying, making intense demands of the musicians that they meet with skill and feeling. Cross’ playing, at times treated so that it morphs from a Robert Fripp-like tone into something more clearly a violin, has a great freedom on both tracks, almost unhinged on ‘Starless’ before a beautiful collective resolution. Turning to the remaining tracks, ‘Nurse Insane’, despite its pell-mell pace, fervent vocals and serious theme (the tormented experience of a mental patient), is ultimately not very interesting musically. ‘Calamity’ uses the metaphor of a doomed sea voyage for a deteriorating relationship. As though riding the waves, it’s up and down in terms of quality too, some moving flute and an inexorable ascending riff providing its best moments. On ‘Over Your Shoulder’ drummer Steve Roberts and bassist Mick Paul interlock well, and the interplay of his bass with the violin is especially impressive. ‘Nowhere’ is a touching ballad founded on a pretty guitar motif, that is later on enhanced by a poignant sax solo; the seemingly desolate refrain of “Going nowhere” suddenly reframed at the end by the simple addition of the words “without you”. ‘Karma Gain’, with its harmonies and varispeed vocals a la ‘Fame’ is probably what counts as pop for this band. It’s catchy but doesn’t feel as substantial as the album’s strongest songs. Despite what might be viewed as in some respects a backwards-looking collection, ‘Ice Blue Silver Sky’ proves that there is still a lot of life in these songs and in this band.

Track Listing:-
1 Nurse Insane
2 Calamity
3 Nowhere
4 Exiles
5 Karma Grain
6 Over Your Shoulder
7 Starless

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