Jimmy Hotz
Beyond The Crystal Sea

A 30th Anniversary Special Edition with bonus tracks of an album I’ve never heard of. If you’re going to be obscure, it doesn’t get much more obscure than Christian prog rock. The only other band of this kind I had ever heard of (not counting Neal Morse) is Arkangel, but even that I’ve never actually heard.

After a few spins of Beyond The Crystal Sea I can easily see why it remained so obscure. Now, as we can all attest to, just because something is obscure does not mean it’s not good. It just means that there are elements there that would not have appealed to a mass amount of people in the first place. Christian rock and prog rock already have that going for them… put the two together and you narrow the margin even more. No matter, because this is a fine piece of synthesizer-laden space/prog rock.

Jimmy Hotz, as it turns out, is a session player turned solo artist. His list of credits include Fleetwood Mac, Yes, Kitaro, B.B. King and Steve Winwood (plus, he’s also apparently a key player in MIDI controller development.) Treading somewhere between early Yes and Hawkwind, and sporting some very Peter Gabriel-esque vocals, Beyond The Crystal Sea is a record that will please the collectors and connoisseurs of prog and space rock everywhere. The lyrics are very Christian-themed which fit nicely in a prog setting, as this genre tends to lean toward the fantastical as it is. Songs like “The Vision Ship”, “Beyond The Blues” and “The Gates Of Time” (one of the two bonus tracks), while somewhat dated, have just the right balance of grandiose skill and campy appeal that makes prog of this sort what it is.

I have no frame of reference sonically since I never heard the original, but it doesn’t sound bad… like any other record that was recorded and released in 1979 anyway. If you enjoy looking for long-forgotten treasures in prog rock, check this one out. It’s not going to blow your mind, but it should make for a couple of enjoyable listens.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shawn Pelata
May 31st, 2010


  1. Commented by: AARONIUS

    I haven’t heard this but the way you described it kind of reminds me of an album from Kerry Livgren (of Kansas fame) called AD- Art of the State. It was very proggy and kind of synthesizer-y, although it may have come out in the 80’s.

    I don’t know what it is but I love listening to that album.

    I guess maybe after blasting my feeble brain with brOOtal death metal most of the time, I like something that sounds different.

  2. Commented by: Shawn Pelata

    Kerry Livgren is a certified genius…

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