When you sit back and think about it, the musical landscape of progressive rock is a pretty impressive thing. Impressive in the sense that there is so much diversity. Testifying to one spectrum of this musical pallet is a CD I received recently from the band Farpoint entitled “Grace”. Their musical style is at once accessible and melodic but far from boring.
The band Farpoint was formed in 1997 and consists of: Clark Boone (vocals and guitar), Kevin Jarvis (guitar, keys, mandolin, and vocals), Dana Oxendine (vocals, flute, and keys), Frank Tyson (bass, guitar, and vocals), Mike Avins (lead guitar), and Johnathan Rodriguez (drums and vocals). After a years worth or rehearsing and writing Farpoint made their live debut at YESCAMP ’98 where they performed a variety of Yes covers as well as a few of their own compositions. I must admit I’m hard pressed to imagine how the band managed to sound like Yes because their compositions seem quite distinct and far from Yes-like material. But then inspiration is best assimilated rather than mimed.
Farpoint describe their music as folky art rock with a progressive edge and that pretty much nails it one the head. Their primary influences range from Pink Floyd, Kansas and Renaissance. Not all of these influences are readily audible however. Of course the dramatic opener for the CD with the sound effects and news broadcaster talking immediately brings the Floyd to mind but on the whole it’s the more subtle influences that linger. The lead male vocals belonging to Clark bring to mind an almost southern-country-rock tone while the female vocals belonging to Dana Oxendine summon to mind the tone of Annie Haslam and Renaissance.
Musically Farpoint’s material is a prominent blend of acoustic and electric guitars with the acoustic side reinforcing the folk or even country influence. The 11 compositions on “Grace” all range in the five to seven minute range and are generally mid tempo. While the overall lyrical content takes a very positive spin the delivery is sometimes in a melancholy or minor key creating a nice counterpoint. The songs are not overly complicated although some do work with multiple sections joined together, similar to the Barclay James Harvest style. It’s worth pointing out how the band also has managed to infuse a couple of minor genres such as Celtic and Bluegrass and instruments such as flute and mandolin into their soft proggy style.
Farpoint continue to gain a fan base worldwide with regular internet airplay and the band’s own charitable efforts. All in all despite a few tracks which suffer from some ‘muddy’ production values “Grace” is a very worthy sophomore effort from a band working the independent route. If you enjoy a more ‘mainstream’ melodic song-based progressive rock I’d encourage you to check’em out.
Review by Jerry Lucky
June 15, 2003