Get this crazy baby off my head!



Sphere³ - Comeuppance - 2002 - Cyclops

Sphere3 are a four-piece instrumental group from London. The music they create is an innovative blend of intense rock and intricate jazz-fusion, music full of surprises, drama and energy. - from the band's website

After listening to the band Network, it made me realize how few progressive fusion bands I had been hearing coming from the UK of late, and knowing that the country once possessed the very best in this genre(Bruford, Brand X, National Health, Isotope, The Fents, UK, Holdsworth, etc.) led me to wonder if the musicians there had all but given up on the sport of fine musicianship. Well here a CD from a band on the progressive label Cyclops records called Sphere³ - Comeuppance, and it involves the very progressive and fusion mix that makes this style of music so great. To get the fullest impact from this kind of music, the main ingredients are: Great musicians, and Sphere³ possesses them at every instrument. Great compostions, and here they have acheived that also. Originality, obviously cloning or mimicking a band seldom gets an artist the proper credit they deserve, even if they are outshining their idols, and I am happy to say that Sphere³ again have excelled on their own take on this style of music. I get the impression that the band mates are well in tune to both the world of progressive rock, as well as the fusion realm, their music can sound like an excerpt from many of progbands epic instrumental section. They also straddle along both sides of the musical fence with these styles, never sounding more like one than the other. As is the case for any band attempting to create a fresh take in this challenging scene, the priority of composition before virtuoso becomes the focal point of importance, here you will find that Sphere³ has wholeheartedly adopted this approach, by unfurling 10 songs of music that is compelling, challenging, original, and a pleasure to listen to. The band has no boudaries to confine them, they are experienced players that take adventurous expeditions into many uncharted territories. Their ability to gather the many sides of their collective influeces has transfluenced into a sound that is all their own. I can't liken Sphere³ to any particular band, this is a credit to the players, that they created Comeuppance with such solid songs, and musicianship on their first CD, only leaves me that much more curious to hear a follow up. © M.J.Brady, Prognosis http://www.sphere3.co.uk/Sphere3/reviews-comeuppance/prognosis-m.j.brady

Original entry, 5/22/00: Maybe this is what Genesis would have sounded like in Y2K if they hadn't turned to "the dark side" of the music biz and become pop. No albums yet, but incredible "old Genesis" style MP3 samples, featuring lightning guitar licks, punchy bass, spacey Mellotron and some tight, complex drumming. They are supposedly working on a forthcoming CD. I'll be one of the first to place an order. Check their web page. Update 5/1/07: This entry was one of the first additions I made when I took over the original GEPR as editor. I heard some MP3 samples on their web site and was impressed, obviously. Seven years later, they're still active and gigging in the UK, and they did release their album Comeuppance in 2002, though I still have yet to hear it. Just too many albums to listen to. The least I can do is update their entry with their correct web site URL, and their MySpace URL. If someone out there knows anything about their music, I'd love to publish a review! Send one in! © Fred Trafton, www.gepr.net/sh.html

The Cyclops label has long been the home of many of the UK's up-and coming neo-prog bands, but rarely do instrumental outfits get represented on their rather large roster. Sphere3 however breaks the Cyclops norm with their brilliant new album, titled Comeuppance, an all-instrumental recording filled with fiery fusion, symphonic prog, and dashes of prog-metal. This formidable four-piece has all the chops, as well as great songwriting skills, which results in a melodic feast of tight and vibrant songs. Keyboard player Neil Durant is quite the find, as he alternates from blistering synth solos to majestic jazz piano breaks to walls of ominous Mellotron. His duels with guitarist Steve Anderson on the fusion ripper "A Good Example of Arbitrary Presumption" are a pleasure to hear, and his insistant organ fuels the tasty guitar licks on the upbeat "Shrimp.sng." The rhythm section of William Burnett on bass and Jamie Fisher simply burn on the metallic "Eat First, Ask Questions Later", a heavy tune with big guitar riffs and haunting Mellotron. Fans of more symphonic and jazzy material will love "An Unusual January" and "December Gaze", two songs long on gentle melodies and calmer arrangments. The acoustic "Tapestries" contains some lush arrangements, and the CD closes out with fiery fusion of "Paralysis", a track that comes close to matching the band Planet X in intensity. Burnett's acrobatic bass rumblings and Fisher's nimble fills provide the perfect foil to Anderson's meaty riffs and Durant's symphonic explosions, providing a very enjoyable end to a satisfying album. With ten hot tracks, there's plenty to dive into here, and plenty of variety to keep most prog fans happy. At times the band comes across soundinglike a modern day Finch, which to this reviewer's ears is a good thing. Cyclops has a real winner here! © Pete Pardo, July 31st 2003, www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=829

The new album from Sphere³ has become an instant contender for my personal "album of the year". It is a delightful, warm and human performance from a bunch of dazzling musicians who have re-discovered the art of Progressive Rock/Jazz fusion. A wholly instrumental album is a rare find these days, but to find one that is so lyrical in its performance represents a red-letter day for me. Sphere³ totally FAIL to fall into the traps normally associated with such music though. Despite virtuoso performances from all members of the band, the group have a compositional maturity and skill that surpasses many of the bands who were their inspiration. Recalling the better moments of Return To Forever and Weather Report from a Musicianship point of view, that certain special "Englishness" that pervaded the work of the Canterbury bands is manifest throughout this album. Well defined compositions rather than pure show-off/throw away improvisations are the bedrock of this remarkable band. Yes, sometimes the guitar recalls Phil Miller's work with the Hatfields, and the piano work is Chic Corea at his best... i.e when he wasn't just showing off how fast he could play. The group have a vast dynamic range, and are able to go from neo be-bop styles into heavy riffing at the drop of a hat, and at the drop of another one head off down some 5G (Bruford) style funk workout with brilliant slap bass punctuated by big choral mellotrons. This group positively sparkle, with the aid of some formiddable drumming (the acid test of such bands) Sphere3 have created this years big surprise... a tremendous piece of work, and the most fun I've had with a CD player this year. © Andy Tillison, Radio Caroline http://www.sphere3.co.uk/reviews-comeuppance/radio-caroline-andy-tillison

2002 was a banner year for English instrumental quartet Sphere³ with the release of the band's first recording, Comeuppance. Since the group relied heavily on organ and guitar unison phrasing and intense riffing their style spans classic progressive rock with appropriate nods to IQ as well as to English jazz fusion heroes such as Brand X. The opening cut, "A Good Example of Arbitrary Assumption" sets the tone for the entire record with guitarist Steve Anderson injecting a Steve Hackett style controlled angst against Neil Durant's jazzy piano interludes and flaying Moog synth lines. One aspect of the band's compositions is that many solos and main musical interludes have been trimmed short thus squelching any common criticism for prog fusion as being overly self indulgent. Pieces such as "Sidewalking" are much more concise and well balanced between hot chops and crafted musical passages not far removed from the approach of bands such as The Yellowjackets or Level 42. The quartet evaded heavy handed posturing on most of the ten pieces relying on a steady set of guitar arpeggios and digital keys (as heard on "December Gaze"). That is until the disc closer, "Paralysis" which highlights swelling mellotron choirs and plenty of well placed classic prog pomposity. The band has been hard work on the follow-on recording expected in 2006 with two completed tracks hopefully much in the same vein. © Jeff Melton, DVDivas http://www.sphere3.co.uk/reviews-comeuppance/dvdivas-jeff-melton

I have been racking my brain and have had to give up. I honestly can't think of a CD I have been waiting for longer than the debut by Sphere³. Back when the guys were singular as opposed to a power I used to be in regular contact, especially with keyboard player Neil Durant. I started reviewing the band as long ago as #17 (March 1993) and every time I saw Neil at a gig, giving out one of their numerous flyers I would ask when the new album was coming out. When Malcolm told me that the album had actually been released I told him that I wouldn't believe it until I actually saw a copy as I have been waiting for this even longer than the second Credo album! The band is Neil (keys), Steve Anderson (guitars, who also played for a while with GLD), William Burnett (bass) and Jamie Fisher (drums). While Jamie only joined in 1996 the others have been playing with each other since 1991 or thereabouts so it is no surprise that by now they know what they are doing. Yes, I am treating this review quite light heartedly but that fits in with the whole feel of a band that has always been self-deprecating and full of humour. Is it because the album isn't much cop and I'm being kind? No, the reverse is definitely the case. It may have been an inordinate time in the making, but this has to be one of the finest jazz-oriented albums that it has ever been my pleasure to hear. Each of the four are master musicians, and they all have huge parts to play within each song so that if the listener concentrates on just one player then he will be surprised at just how much is going on. There aren't any egos on show, each provides as little or as much as is required, so during the same song William can provide some stunning finger popping bass or just play a few delicate notes here and there while Neil plays gentle keys or lovingly strokes the ivories and tinkles with his piano. The biggest problem that Cyclops is going to have is how to get this out of the prog market and into jazz, as any fan of Weather Report, Return To Forever or Brand X will take this fusion album warmly into their bosom. I have seen one article where the reviewer says how much he is looking forward to the follow up. All I can say to that is don't hold your breath and maybe, just maybe, within the next ten years we may get another album. I certainly hope so, as this is superb! Visit the superb site at www.sphere3.co.uk. - Review by & © kev rowland SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team ****/5 [Originally appeared in Feedback #73, 2002] © Prog Archives, All rights reserved. http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=42541

Really good progressive, heavy, and jazz rock/fusion from a British jazz rock group who seem to be relatively obscure. If you like bands like Brand X and Isotope, this album may impress you. Regardless of your preferred musical genre, this is still great music played by a mega-talented band. This is their first full album, and is well worth checking out. The band were supposedly releasing a new album in 2006/2007, but I am not aware of any new releases. Check out more @ http://www.sphere3.co.uk/sounds [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 122 Mb]


1 A Good Example Of Arbitrary Presumption 6:20
2 Shrimp.sng 4:07
3 Sidewalking 4:38
4 Natural Light 5:41
5 First Kiss 5:44
6 Eat First, Ask Questions Later 3:15
7 An Unusual January 5:47
8 December Gaze 8:38
9 Tapestries 2:41
10 Paralysis 5:58

Tracks 1,3,5,6,7,8 composed by William Burnett: Tracks 2,10 by Neil Durant: Track 4 by Neil Durant, Jamie Fisher, Steve Anderson, & William Burnett: Track 9 by Steve Anderson


Steve Anderson - Guitar
William Burnett - Bass
Neil Durant - Keyboards
Jamie Fisher - Drums on Tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Justin Scott - Drums on Tracks 3, 4


Sphere3 are a British band formed way back in 1991, so you could say that this debut album has been a long time coming! I first heard the band on a Cyclops Sampler, then saw them play a blistering set at the Whitchurch festival in 2001. The band made a triumphant return to Whitchurch in 2002, and I was pleased (and pleasantly surprised) to find that the oft-delayed Comeuppance was finally getting its launch at the festival. It’s got to be said, it was worth the wait! The band consists of guitarist Steve Anderson, bassist William Burnett, keyboard player Neil Durant and drummer Jamie Fisher. As you might have surmised, they are an instrumental outfit; that and the fact that they play what most would probably call ‘fusion’ might be a severe put-off to many, but it shouldn’t be – this isn’t a dull instrumental work-out CD - this band play songs, with more memorable melodies than you can shake a stick at. Furthermore, they are fusion in the very best sense, taking some jazz, funk, pop, heavy rock and of course a good dollop of prog and throwing it all into the mix to create an identifiable yet diverse sound. You can certainly identify some of the band’s influences fairly easily – bits of early Level 42, Red-era King Crimson, plus the likes of Steely Dan, Brand X, I.Q. and Camel are all in there somewhere – but this doesn’t detract from what is actually a pretty original piece of work. Opening track, the snappily titled A Good Example of Arbitrary Presumption is a great introduction to the band’s sound; An opening blast of frenetic percussion and heavy guitar riffing leads into a sublime piece of uptempo jazz-rock fusion, with fluid leads from Anderson and plenty of organic keyboard and jazz piano-style noodling (in the best possible sense!) from Durant. Durant also has an arsenal of more atmospheric, symphonic keyboard sounds at his disposal which really do add to the mix, and it is probably this which gives the band’s sound more of a prog rock feel. Burnett’s bass playing, meanwhile, is reminiscent of a heavier and funkier Mark King (Level 42), especially the way in which the bass is in many respects the lead instrument. This track also shows how seamlessly the band can shift pace and moods, doing so in such a fluid manner you barely notice the joins. A track by track review seems somewhat superfluous here, with so much going on in each song, but personal highlights include the unstoppable, uptempo rush of Shrimp.sng, the almost sinister, hard-edged atmospherics of Paralysis and the much lighter, jazz flavoured An Unusual January. The best track for me however is the epic December Gaze. The track starts off with a mellow, laid back section with saxophone sounds (from Durant’s army of keyboards!) which could almost have come off a late 70’s Camel album (such as Rain Dances), before the main body of the track sees the band building on a simple, repeated theme with new sounds and instruments gradually added to crank up the atmosphere –reminiscent in style, in fact, to the lengthy instrumental section from IQ’s The Narrow Margin. The way the band once again effortlessly change pace and mood to return to the earlier section just adds the icing to the cake – a magnificent piece of music. Other tracks worthy of note, in that they break from what you could very loosely call the band’s formula, are First Kiss, a slow-burning exercise in atmospherics and dynamics with Steve Anderson’s guitar breaking through the sound effects in almost Floydian style, and Tapestries which is really just a solo guitar piece by Anderson, and is in the mould of Genesis/Steve Hackett’s Horizons. The production on Comeuppance is excellent throughout. The only way you’d know this album was made on a tight budget is the absence of real saxophone and brass – hopefully this is something the band can rectify in future releases. Overall, a very fine album, with no filler and plenty of variety, originality and fine musicianship. I’d urge all open-minded rock fans to give this a listen – and if possible to see the band live, where they are a heavier but no less enticing proposition. Highly recommended - and I hope we won’t have to wait another 10 years for the follow up! - Conclusion: 9 out of 10, © Tom De Val , © 1995 - 2008 : Dutch Progressive Rock Page


Sphere3 (pronounced Sphere Cubed) are a progressive rock/jazz fusion band from Britain. Originally formed in the 1990s, the band has been constantly evolving ever since. Starting out as a five-piece progressive rock band with vocals, they later became a fully instrumental ensemble exploring many musical genres, and blending them all into a unique sonic experience all of their own. Sphere3 have played extensively around the U.K. and Europe. In concert, they have gained a strong reputation for their powerful and dynamic live performances, and have played with several legendary progressive rock acts, including The Flower Kings,Magnum, Focus, and IQ.

1 comment:

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