Ridley-Duff has managed to do what very few artists in this genre were able to do — put some soul into robot rock.
I don’t particularly care for robot rock. And I don’t really like drum machines or synthesizers, unless they are used creatively. Rory Ridley-Duff knows how to use drum machines and synthesizers. Sure, they still SOUND like drum machines and synthesizers, but Ridley-Duff’s programming techniques are very original, and he attempts to make the drum machines and synths sound like real instruments, not just machines. Ridley-Duff has managed to do what very few artists in this genre were able to do — put some soul into robot rock. All in all, it’s not a bad listen, but strictly for fans of keyboard/computer instrumental music. If you can imagine Rick Wakeman as a huge computer geek, you might get an idea of what this album is all about.
"This UK musician has put together some fine instrumental progressive rock here sprinkled with bits of classical as well as fusion, and with nine tracks, including two that go past the 12-minute mark, there's plenty to enjoy and sink your teeth into. The opening title track is a joy to listen to, very symphonic in nature, led by Rory's wall of bombastic keyboard melodies. Coming across more like a classical orchestra than a one man symphonic band, both "Variations of Theme by Iain Carnegie" and "Night Time" just ooze class and mystery, with the latter featuring rich synth textures, gongs, and chimes for a great effect. The quirky "Hunting Extremely Large Animals" sees the keyboard ace revealing his prog rock influences, namely Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Yes, with sweeping keyboard orchestrations soaring over majestic lead melodies. A little funk goes a long way on the Latin jazz tinged "London 125", while the herculean "Tempest" clocks in at near 14-minutes and features a wide variety of prog and fusion sounds that bring to mind Genesis, Return to Forever, and Yes. An old Protos song, "The Maiden", gets an updated treatment here, as Ridley-Duff adds in modern keyboard sounds to this classy prog rock number. Gone are the guitars and real drums, in their place are blazing synth melodies, programmed rhythms, and a lighter, more prog-fusion feel. The other epic, "Space", closes out the CD in fine fashion, this one a dripping with vintage prog & space rock flavor that recalls Genesis, Pink Floyd, Camel, and Yes. At times Rory's keyboard work takes on a haunting, classical edge here, and overall it's a very classy piece to end this very solid album. Originally recorded between 1992-1993, let's give kudos to Rory Ridley-Duff for newly mastering this fine CD and making it available to the prog rock enthusiasts. Passing Decades is a fine testament to a very talented musician and composer - check it out."
Peter Pardo, Sea of Tranquility, http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=4926, 29th March 2007.
"Passing Decades" is a great mix of distinguished instrumentation that features Rory Ridley-Duff's mastery of the keys. Rory creates many different and memorable keyboard/synthesizer sounds throughout the CD and pieces them together into impressive arrangements. The album's title piece is a symbol of Rory's craftsmanship. The rythmic bass bounces in time. The break before the sax is an unexpected treat. He continuously adds just the right amount of flavor to keep your interest peaked throughout this great song. Another song from Passing Decades, "What Did I Drink?" is a crisp arrangement of symphonic sounds with excellent forward motion. Its melodies are swaying and mischievous in 6/8 time. If you love symphonic rock pick up a copy of Passing Decades. You'll be glad you did!
-- www.radioindy.com, Radio Indy, 6th March 2007
"This music deftly moves from near ambient space excursions to rather jocular symphonic Prog twists and turns. The most complex and elaborate compositions, and also the most interesting, are found in the second part of the CD. The first half presents more up-tempo pieces, weaving through breezy strands of Prog Rock interspersed with funkier moments and lashings of Jazz. Sometimes it evokes memories of Tubular Bells (Mike Oldfield) but without the darker and more serious overtones - the music always nearer the state of happy-go-lucky jocularity. On this album, Rory has re-arranged three pieces from the Protos repertoire, but the better quality compositions, at least for this writer, are right at the end of the CD. 'Tempest', 'The Maiden' (by Protos) and the conclusive 'Space'. These pieces create angled, spacial, gliding atmospheres, a positive inspiration and pleasant conclusion to this good album."
Translation from the Italian by Charlie (Progressive Ears), 23rd January 2007.
-- www.arlequins.it, Alberto Nucci, 9th December 2006,
"...Normally an album starts well and then gets worse, but I found the reverse to be more true - it starts well, then gets better and better. The highlights - for me at least - come with tracks 6, 7 and 9. Tempest is a 14 minute prog rocker's dream: at times like Pink Floyd's Animals (1977), in other moments capturing instrumental/compositional brilliance not heard since tracks like 'Cinema Show' on Selling England by the Pound (Genesis, 1973)....A worthy opening statement for a new solo artist.
I often find myself listening to Passing Decades and all the other tracks over and over again, especially The Maiden. I simply LOVE The Maiden, because it's so happy and... happy. Hunting [Extremely Large Animals] is good too, I'm not sure why I like it though... Passing Decades itself is great to listen to, I never really get bored of it.....it's just as good as Tubular Bells if you want my opinion.
--Let's Roast Sock, published to CD Baby (October 2006)
"Particularly welcome is the inclusion of the colossal 'Tempest' - a three movement leviathon...one of the most mature compositions.... The other outstanding track 'Space' [which] in many ways combines and draws together many of Rory's influential strands into one salient whole. Soaring and expansive, 'Space' will delight all fans of emotional music, whether it be by Pink Floyd or Samuel Barber - there are resonances of both here."
--Lord Chumley, published on CD Baby (November 2006)