Metro Expo aka Fred Marcoty is hearkening back to a time when the concept of the ‘Album’, as a collective recording, actually meant something…and where the description ‘Concept Album’ really meant a whole lot more. Sonically dense and lush, yet grittily raw and rocking, Metro Expo 1 comes across as a collection of gorgeously intense songs that work even more powerfully as a unified whole.
I am usually very skeptical of ‘concept albums’, considering that the last album of this type to have seriously impressed me on all levels was Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. And we’re talking a release date that goes back to the 30th November 1979! Thirty-six years in the waiting -so you know that Metro Expo 1 is going to be subjected to a ridiculous amount of scrutiny on my behalf.
The first thought that came to my mind though, on reading that Metro Expo 1 was a ‘concept album’, is that Fred Marcoty is an extremely courageous artist if not anything else. Consider the way people cherry-pick and download their favorite songs on iTunes these days. The focus, when it comes to music has shifted far away from albums and is now almost totally song-centric. Search the artist; find the song, download…then move on to the next artist!
Could you imagine going to the movies, watching one scene than leaving the theater and moving on to the next movie? Unthinkable! Though I will admit some artists deserve this treatment considering the amount of work and thought put into their albums. Not so with Metro Expo.
The Metro Expo project stems from the hard work-ethic, commitment and creativity of Belgium’s Fred Marcoty; not only has he written the lyrics and music of each song, he is also the solo-performer on the Metro Expo 1 album. Marcoty also switches to handling the studio-roles as producer, mixer and engineer.
Marcoty explains that Metro Expo 1, “offers a perspective of the journey from teenage years into adulthood. The narrative comes from the eyes of a teenager who doesn’t quite see ‘ageing’ as simply ‘growing up.’ Getting older is seen more as an illness, where the future is not quite as bright as once it had seemed. Dealing with important social and personal issues like depression, schizophrenia, self-reflection, communication, isolation, denial, love and more, Metro Expo 1 tackles the real issues many of us face in our daily lives.”
As always the proof is in the pudding, so when I hit play on the first track, “What Is Going On?” I held my breath and bit on my teeth. Three, two, one…and I was blown away! Sure there is a Pink Floydish flavor running through the track, but boy what a flavor. When something tastes like the best it can be, you shut up and eat it all!
“What Is Going On?” rocks, rollicks and soars into a powerful throat-clearing anthem that totally convinced me – the tune is big in sound and broad in thought and composition. Metro Expo is one heck of a one-man show!
“You’ve Stolen Millions” is as intense and heavily banging as the album opener. And by the time you reach the delicate guitars riffs on “Waiting For The War”, you will be aware that this guy clearly has talent. Even though there are standout songs on this album and everyone will have their own, this is really a piece of music that isn’t supposed to be listened to on random play or a song here and there.
Rarely does an independent artist make an album of this depth. The arrangements, instrumentation, production and engineering are on a level you just don’t hear normally from any one-man indie projects. Incredible vocal harmonies, distinct instrument separation, rich and lush reverbs plus the mastering by Jason Rowan @Red Cherry Audio (UK), all make this an album that begs to be heard on a true high fidelity system.
Songs of note that caught my attention include the prog rock induced “Nothing Here’s Real”, the tango-rhythms of “Come To Me”, the psychedelic and acidy “Inertia” and the swampy guitar-strumming of “The Swan Lullaby”.
However the pick of the bunch must go to the album opener “What Is Going On?”, which just has to be one of the best openers of any rock album. The other total surprise was the atmospheric slow-burner “The Shore”. This is the purest, most sublime expression of songwriting beauty I have heard in a while.
From beginning to end Metro Expo 1 is a breathtaking album. Fred Marcoty is a very versatile musician capable of bursts of brilliance. At times he hints at art-rock at others its psychedelia or acid-rock, all the while never betraying his own singular, original vision of music…and the concept of this album.
An independent rock masterpiece!