With the vocals of Peter Gabriel, the synths of the Starland Vocal Band and a composition model the like of Sure, pianist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Costoso’s model could possibly be seen as a blended again to say the least, particularly whenever you throw in his jazz background. It’s an attention-grabbing manner wherein Cos deigns to combine all these kinds; progressive rock, grownup contempo and electronica don’t all the time make the perfect of bedfellows. Along with his third album, Grace, nonetheless, Cos appears to have discovered his stride.
It appears to have been a major studying curve for Costoso, a lifelong musician who started learning jazz piano at age 13, to get to that distinctive mix of sound. A transparent progressive and arduous rock fan from his first album, 2002’s The Turning Round. With a heavy affect from the likes of Kansas, Sure and Utopia’s Todd Rundgren, this album was nearly all rock, with only some peeks of piano or keys.
As soon as the primary solo album was out for Costoso, he labored on different initiatives however in 2016 determined that working with bands was extra irritating than rewarding and took on solo producing with much more gusto, releasing the semi-self-titled Cos in September of that yr. Now lit up much more together with his virtuosic piano model, Costosos’s model turned rather more jazz-focused and melodic. Tracks like “Mountain or Rope” are so jazzy and fluid, in truth, they could possibly be mistaken for Steely Dan or Michael McDonald. This model clearly fits Costoso, nevertheless it’s simply as clearly not the entire story.
Cos gave the impression to be a little bit of a turning level for Costoso, because it not solely contained a wider vary of kinds however introduced out his experimental aspect. He didn’t must be only one factor, and the experimental itch was actually there on this second album, in addition to the primary lashings of digital manufacturing. Now with Grace, launched in late 2021, it appears Costoso has discovered a strategy to merge all his musical loves.
From the primary bars of the nine-minute epic opening monitor “The Best Reward,” it’s clear Cos has discovered a strategy to lay all his compositions in the correct place. Anchored in his past love progressive rock, Grace explores jazz, rock, theatrical manufacturing, a great deal of various kinds of synths and electronica, each within the sound design and the foregrounds of every monitor. With “The Best Reward” containing clear nods to the likes of Jethro Tull and Sure, second monitor is a merging of 80s synth pop and these progressive greats by way of layers and layers of artistic classic synth work.
From the all-piano title monitor and extra experiments in merging 60s and 70s prog rock with 80s new wave, Grace strikes surprisingly into modern-era progressive steel/nu steel with all its lush manufacturing and depth with the Resurrection sequence of tracks. With an intense vocal contribution by an unknown feminine vocalist, followers of Evanesence particularly will get pleasure from these tracks.
One other huge change price noting that makes a giant distinction in Grace is Costoso’s vocals. He appears to have discovered a texture and timbre that works for him on this album, going extra raspy and delicate in a lot of the tracks quite than belting every little thing to the rafters. The impact is extra of a connection between the music and the vocal melody, in addition to a extra emotive impact for the viewers. That is useful in ballad-style tracks like “Gina,” or jazzy numbers like “Salt Hay” the place Costoso’s voice takes on a form of Van Halen-era David Lee Roth high quality but additionally in tracks with sharper synths like “Wanderlust,” the place a gravely, Peter Gabriel or Chris Cornell-style vocal brings a pleasant contrasting texture to the sound. It’s composition selections like this which make Grace stand aside as a development from Cos’s earlier albums.
Along with his model clearly nonetheless evolving, Grace appears to be the discharge the place Costoso as Cos has actually discovered his sound, particularly compositionally. Placing collectively jazz, prog rock, electronica and extra has received to be one robust balancing act, however on this seminal album, it appears Cos is now strolling that tightrope with ease.