A beautiful disc from the UK by guitarist/keyboardist/composer Neil Campbell.
Playing classical, electric and acoustic guitars, piano, synths, theremin, percussion and bass guitar Campbell is clearly in command of the ensemble. The rest of the 'Collective' are Nicole Collarbone (cello), Mark Brocklesby(drums & percussion), Victoria Melia (vocals), Jeff Jepson (vocals), Dan Owens (bass guitar) and Alex Welford (horns). Anne Taft (soprano on 1 track) and Stan Ambrose (celtic harp on 2 tracks) are guests as well. Musically "Particle Theory" recalls both the symphonic folk music of Mike Oldfield and the large ensemble work of Ian Carr but also has obvious ties to the 'prog' scene with hints at Camel and King Crimson in a few places. Having done the necessary name-dropping I must say that this disc does a remarkably good job of not sounding like anyone in particular. The comparisons are really only valid in relation to the overall organization and structure of the music and not the sonic textures. Mr. Campbell has come up with a fairly original sound with arrangements that are well thought-out and imaginative even though the music is very tonal and 'pretty'. I always love finding new music that makes me really work hard for comparisons since that is a sign that it is original and worthwhile!
I guess I also see similarities to groups like After Crying and The Enid in the instrumental sections and a melancholy in the vocal lines that recalls perhaps Pink Floyd or Procol Harum. But - and I can't stress this enough - the NCC doesn't really sound like any of these bands. The music is fresh, original and highly enjoyable! "Particle Theory" gets my highest recommendation!!