are off course also the two driving forces behind in one of the most influential
AOR bands in the eighties and forth: Asia. And for the third time they have put
their differences behind them and have joint forces and been creative with their
side project: Wetton/Downes.
While the latest Asia offering was a total let down in my book, I must admit
that they are on to something with 'Icon 3'; building a bridge between prog rock
and AOR with a full palette of colours, capturing the sound and atmosphere of
the very early eighties; yes taking us back to their roots and 'Asia' and
The power of Geoff Downes' keyboard sounds and John Wetton's voice in
combination with guitar virtuoso Dave Kilminster (Roger Waters & Keith Emerson)
brings us back to the days when Asia was in heavy rotation on the radio.
ELO cellist Hugh McDowell, whose unique sound has been a big part of their sound
on all three albums, is once again involved and rounding out the band is Pete
Riley on the drums. Two guests makes an appearance as well: new age harpist
Andreas Vollenweider and highly acclaimed vocalist Anne-Marie Helder (Karnataka,
The result is
first class Prog Rock/AOR, but it is also an album that needed many spins to
click, but once the music had sunk in and really opened up I found this to be a
sheer listening pleasure. Like sweet candy for the ear, listenable and smooth,
and they do thankfully not at any point fall into the trap that I think way too
many AOR bands so easy fall into: get sappy and repetitive. They manage to hold
the listener in a tight grip with their big sound collages, huge choirs and
multi-layered song structures, all perfectly produced and executed.
'Icon 3' is one
of the most accomplished AOR albums I've ever heard, and I really like the
atmosphere they create on this album and must admit that this album has
surpassed my wildest expectations...