Brand X at it's peak!
P. McKenna | Atlanta GA | 09/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Compositionally, this has got to be the strongest Brand-X outing, each song has such strong melodic content complimented by the typically sly British wit that had long been their trademark.
The band's sound here is a bit punchier and a bit more colorful, owing to the presence of keyboardist Peter Robinson and all his cool textures, as well as percussionist Morris Pert contributing more compositionally and adding even more cool sounds and various metallic objects. Veteran session drummer Chuck Burgi adds a punchier sound as well, sounding nothing like Phil Collins (who by this point had no time to devote to Brand-X).
All throughout, for me the real star is bassist Percy Jones, not only with his unique stuttering/guttural fretless style but also his compositions. If the disc has one tune that stands head and shoulders above the rest, it would be Percy's "Ghost of The Mayfield Lodge" with its alternately whimsical and spooky melodies and textures. The fun part of this tune is the middle section where Percy and Morris bat spooky phrases back and forth as Peter Robinson conjures up all kinds of cool spook sounds on his synths.
"Deadly Nightshade" is easily my other favorite track here, with the whole band just firing on all cylinders, spinning out colorful melodies, witty interjections and a rip snortin' last few minutes of sheer fusion bliss with a grand ending!
All the other tracks are great fun as well (love that spooky intro to "Earth Dance" a ton!), not a bad one in the bunch.
After this, it would be diver down, as "Product" would demonstrate a year later."
Line-Up Change No Problemo For Brand X
Alan Caylow | USA | 10/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Brand X's fourth album, 1978's "Masques," saw this outstanding progressive jazz/rock group go through a line-up change. Drummer Phil Collins was too busy touring with Genesis in support of their just-released album, "And Then There Were Three," so Chuck Burgi filled in on the drumkit. Keyboardist Robin Lumley decided to step away from the keyboards and produce the album instead---though I haven't a clue why---and his place was taken by keyboardist Peter Robinson. But both Burgi and Robinson fit the bill perfectly, as "Masques" remains a major highlight in Brand X's catalog. The material is very strong, and the band's performances are sizzling. Standouts include the hard-driving jazz/rock of "The Poke," the gorgeous "Black Moon," the incredible workout "Access To Data," and the spooky fun of "The Ghost Of Mayfield Lodge." Fabulous jams, and awesome music all the way around. Brand X's "Masques" is one of the group's very best releases."
R.Cittern | Springfield | 12/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I first put is record on and listen to The Poke it felt like Brand X was starting to lose their edge I don't know if it is because Collins is gone and Lumley took over on controls instead of his keyboards, but I not complaining about Peter Robinsons and Chuck Burgis skills they make great replacments I'm just talking composition wise. On this song I hear larger riffs and less band interplay. I still enjoy the album but it is less experimental like Moroccan Roll. The bass/piano duet on the title track is a delight and easy listening bleeds in on Black Moon with reminds me of The Pina Colata song I don't know why. Deadly Nightshade returns back to to the old sound with Goodsail burning up the fretboard with his solos. The rest of the songs are good jams, but when I heard the Ghost of Mayfield Logde I was expecting a little more out of the song. Brand X was changing directions and this album really shows it."