Dead Air For Radios

Chroma Key

Fight Evil, 1997

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Kevin Moore, the original keyboardist for prog-rock metal maves Dream Theater, has become a bit of a musical iconoclast. Since leaving the band in 1996, he has lived in Costa Rica and Turkey, been deeply involved with political and social activism, and -- oh yeah -- recorded three CDs of his unique, atmospheric, haunting progressive rock under the name Chroma Key.

Chroma Key’s 2000 CD You Go Nowmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 is one of my favorite CDs of all time -- when I did my Desert Island Discs on the Daily Vault Forum, it barely didn’t make the list -- but I’ve never gotten around to reviewing his other two CDs until now.

Dead Air is, like most first solo CDs, a transitional disc. Fans of Dream Theater’s progressive metal sound must have been confused; Chroma Key is, instead, trance-influenced synthesizer pop, dark and moody, with obscure lyrics and complex arrangements. It’s hard not to compare it to artists like Brian Eno or Peter Gabriel, and there is some tinge of that in Dead Air -- the intro to “s.o.s.” could be lifted directly from Security or So. Chroma Key adds a strong rhythmic element to the genre, though; on Dead Air, that’s provided by the then-rhythm section of prog metal band Fates Warning.

Moore’s transition from the firm structure of metal to the more ethereal and Apollonian sound of Chroma Key has awkward moments on Dead Air.  Tracks like “America The Video” and “Camera 4” don’t quite gel – and there’s nothing concrete I can give you to tell you why. For me, at least, they just don’t work.

Contrast that with “Colorblind,” “Even The Waves” and “On The Page” -- which do work and show flashes of the brilliance Chroma Key would reach on You Go Now. The best track by far on Dead Air For Radios, however, is the driving, dark, and obsessive “Undertow.” When Moore sings “The street below is water, flowing / Undertow…”, it’s chilling, fascinating, and wonderful.

Dead Air For Radios is a great CD in places. There’s no denying Moore’s talent and it would come to fruition with later work. If you like Moore’s work already, or this genre, it comes recommended.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2007 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Fight Evil, and is used for informational purposes only.