CONTEST ALERT: We have 3 Outside The Cage autographed by AK CD’s to giveaway. To enter email us at tmakworld (at) gmail (dot) com and put AK in the subject line. Contest open until June 15 2013.
May 15 2013 – Today we take a look at a CD by The AK Project entitled Outside The Cage. First things first – AK is Azim Keshavjee who our hardcore readers will recognize as the guitarist and vocalist of Comfortably Numb – Canada’s Pink Floyd Show. AK is a phenomenal musician and you can read our review of his Comfortably Numb show here and our interview with him here. This record was released in 2006 and was the culmination of 10 years of work for AK. The main reason we are visiting this CD now is that The AK Project has another CD coming this year so we thought it would be interesting to check out their first one.
The CD itself is a highly intelligent concept that AK tells us is “about a person’s struggle to escape the ‘cage’ that holds them inside mentally because of religion, politics, relationships and communication barriers. When one is ‘Outside The Cage’ they become free of the bars of life and are able to think and feel for themselves. Much of the album talks about my mental cage, some have asked if I had personal relationship issues – sure I did, just not with Solveig Keshavjee (AK’s wife, keyboardist and female vocalist of Comfortably Numb) as she has been my rock since we met.” Knowing that AK’s other gig is in one of the world’s best Pink Floyd tribute bands my initial thought was wow that concept sure sounds a lot like The Wall.
Outside The Cage was recorded at AK’s studio (trendmusic.ca) and AK states that “the whole album was recorded by me alone, guitar, vocals, piano, bass, programming, drums, keyboards and mixing. The exception is one song Human which the vocals were done by Solveig.” Essentially this is a one man project similar to Grohl’s work on the First Foo Fighters album or even Paul McCartney’s first solo album.
The opening notes on the first song Bleed sound a whole lot like Led Zeppelin’s intro to In The Evening and one is immediately aware that this is a keyboard/electronic heavy album. The first screeching guitar is not far behind and contrasts the very ambient sounding background. A sudden change of pace eliminates the electronic sounds for a simple piano/vocal segment which reminds of something Genesis would have recorded in their prog days. An incredible convergence of sounds I would have trouble classifying this song – not quite ambience but not quite rock. A very cerebral mix of sounds that impress and set the tone for the record.
The third song Uprise stands out as it totally sounds like a Rush song from Clockwork Angels both musically and vocally. Without is the album’s 5th song and The Healing is the 6th; David Gilmour’s influence on AK is evident here more than any other songs – the sweeping guitar is front center and much more in line with what any preconceived notions of the record would have been. Truly impressive guitar work.
Beneath The Snow is a very beautiful song full of emotion. Upon the first listen its soft melodic nature will draw you in a tight net. However the story behind this song is so powerful that the emotions are magnified infinitely. “6 years ago my Daughter died and she was laid to rest in April. At this time of the month the weather was usually amazing but that day it snowed. The song tells about my other Daughter, only 1, was dancing and playing through this whole tragedy as any child would, while my wife and I dealt with the harsh reality and pain – “now the innocence lays low beneath the snow” says AK. This is what good music is folks – a chance for the artists to express his emotions through the fury, anger, beauty or serenity of his craft. This one song will draw you in and magically connect you in a sense to AK’s emotions. Very inspiring song that turns a tragic event to a timeless memory. One of the most emotional and powerful songs you will ever hear.
The album ends with One More Shot and Hold The Line and the Pink Floyd influence is there again as One More Shot is a melding of various sound bites and statements from the news that end with a gunshot and leads into Hold The Line an ode to the concept of the album “when all is done, you have choices – you choose – Hold The Line.” A fantastic 2 song ending for a fantastic album that deserves to be heard by music fans the world over.
Verdict: 4 out of 5. A cerebral mix of sounds that is a mix of ambient trance and classic Floyd style riffs. If you are willing to step outside predefined musical boundaries then you will love stepping Outside The Cage. Clearly influenced by AK’s love of Pink Floyd he is stepping far outside his familiar playing style of Comfortably Numb.
Sacrifice of Angels
Beneath the Shnow
One Last Shot
Hold The Line