Whenever Bad Elephant Music releases some very good material from the realms of The Rube Goldberg Machine, Mothertongue, and Trojan Horse to name a few, I always knew something magical is happening for my ears. When it was announced last year that Mike Kershaw signed up with the label, I knew right from day one, I had to check out his music. Mike has released so far three albums and two EP’s. And this year, his new album, What Lies Beneath marks his fourth.
Mike’s music is a combination of symphonic and atmospheric progressive music as his compositions deal with the struggles of emotions and melancholy structures as he wants the listener to follow him wherever he goes into his arrangements. Not only that, but he brought along people such as Joshua Leibowitz, Tom Slatter, Leo Koperdraat and Frank Uraniak of Fractal Mirror, Clare Stephens, and Marco Vasquez to name a few to lend a helping hand for Kershaw as they work as a team.
The production and mixing level is done by Leopold Blue-Sky of Unto Us followed by the mastering of Daniel Bowles. And with a mind-blowing dystopian atmosphere artwork done by Steven J. Catizone, I knew right away that this album is worth exploring. And the four highlights on here, shows how Kershaw brings the emotions to a standstill.
It begins with the galloping moog/keyboard, Leibowitz’s drum work of space and time underneath the essence of David Bowie’s Low-era on Growing for the Gods. Featuring shining and exhilarating tracks with Hackett and Lifeson-sque rhythm guitar sounds and then moving into the styles between Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth finale on the Moog.
It has a futuristic and experimental adventure to kick things off. The dreamy and moody vibrations come in to fill the keyboards and mellotron’s galore on a Floyd-like beginning to see The City Revealed while the ‘80s come in full swing of the Neo-Prog genre and Roxy Music’s Avalon with acoustic rhythmic sections followed by the psych vibration for those Two Eyes.
Leo brings in the acoustic and sliding guitar lines to send the memories of flashbacks to remember the good times in these memories as Kershaw nails those vocal lines to bring the flavors in together like a complete full circle. Tom Slatter takes over on his guest appearance for a guide to a spiritual journey of finding the inner selves despite the loss of right and wrong on the ominous beauty, Wounds. He and Slatter work well for an experimental acoustic sci-fi tale of a battered man of what he has done, and not to give up.
This is my third time listening to What Lies Beneath. And while I’m new to the bandwagon of Mike’s music, it’s one of the most emotional and heartfelt albums I’ve listened to. While it is not just a “great” album, Kershaw himself has got a lot of potential and amazement that has taken me to higher levels on where he will take me to next. And what other surprises he has waiting to the next open doors of his arranging and composition’s to other side of life.