Big Big Train – Far Skies Deep Time (2010) ****
Review by Chris Dixon
Prior to the CD era, most full single albums clocked in at under 50 minutes due to the limitations of the LP record. The CD could hold almost 80 minutes, so albums grew to fill some of that extra space. It was only natural for the EP to follow suit, with many clocking in at longer than most of the Rush back-catalog! Far Skies Deep Time, a 40+ minute EP from Big Big Train, is a follow-up to The Underfall Yard which was a very successful re-birth of the band with David Longdon replacing Sean Filkins on vocals.
The overall feel of the album is very similar to Underfall Yard, which itself is somewhat hard to categorize. It could be described as a slightly more ambitious take on early 1980s Genesis (particularly the Tony Banks material). The vocals sound more serious, even if the lyrics are whimsical (like Fat Billy Shouts Mine, the tale of goalkeeper William ‘Fatty’ Foulke, originally intended for Underfall Yard).
The Wide Open Sea, a moody 17 minute epic about the Belgian singer songwriter Jacques Brel, is an excellent centerpiece for the EP. As a whole, the lush arrangements are masterfully crafted, but they lack some of the signature moments and hooks that separate a masterpiece from a very good alubm. Still, this is a journey well worth taking. If you liked Underfall Yard, Far Skies Deep Time is almost certain to please. Note that the first track, “Master Of Time”, was replaced by “Kingmaker” on the 2011 download issues and on Spotify.