Geoffrey Downes – The Light Program

Geoffrey Downes - The Light Program

Release data:

Geoffrey Downes – The Light Program
LP/CD, Geffen Records , 1986

Being a fan of quite some symphonic/rock music as well, I thought it a good idea to reflect a bit on this album, which the composer released as The New Dance Orchestra.

“The Light Program” (this title actually pays homage to early radio days in Mr Downes homeland) is the remarkable debut solo-album of synthesist Geoffrey Downes, known from Yes, The Buggles and Asia. The album contains five main pieces, divided into separate sections, for a total of 33 tracks. In addition, the text in the booklet encourages listeners to use the program function of their CD players to create their own personal arrangements of the music by shuffling the different sections around in regard to sequence.

In the process of reviewing the outcome I sticked to presented chronology of pieces. I also like to point out the sounds of the synths heard were mostly those popular in the mid ‘80’s when the rise of synth technology made rapid steps forward. Vince DiCola displayed a similar approach and style for the pieces he delivered for the “Rocky V” soundtrack.

If this doesn’t put you off, the five lengthy pieces on this 70+ minute album offer a feast of a vast range of synth sounds and many complex structures. There are many layers and neo-classical hints to be found in the vibrant electronic symphonies displaying many different moods and faces, as Mr Downes fires off his excellent playing skills, most notably on the opener “Symphonie Electronique”.

It was actually lack of support from the record company in the mid ‘80’s that kind of doomed the project, although “The Light Program” would later gain cult status over the years as a remarkable keyboard classic.



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