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Peter Lacey emerged at the end of the millennium from the shadows of years of session work on the British scene with a sound so melodically rich and sophisticated that he earned inevitable comparisons to legends from the golden era of pop music -- Brian Wilson and Burt Bacharach in particular. Although such comparisons are never fair and often misleading, Lacey certainly earned the praise and distinction bestowed upon his music, and although he was beholden to melodic innovations from two and a half decades before he emerged as a solo performer, his music stands solidly on its own merits, extending the melodic tradition of his forebears rather than strictly imitating it. Peter James Lacey (b. January 4, 1966) grew up in Brighton, Sussex, England, where he was early on exposed to church music, not to mention the music from his brother's late-'60s/early-'70s record collection. Countrymen the Beatles were an obvious favorite, but the music of the Beach Boys and Burt Bacharach also held considerable sway on the young lad. By his early teens, Lacey had begun performing in church and was already writing his own songs, many of which he would perform during services. The music changed appropriately when his performing moved to the church hall, and his itch for more popular forms of music began to surface. He played throughout his teenage years in every kind of band, from folk to heavy metal to funk, earning his musical education and becoming proficient in the process on keyboards, guitars, and drums. The constant stream of amateur bands led directly to steady work in various professional or semi-professional outfits, sometimes in the "outer darkness of cabaret." That, in turn, led to some session work in local Sussex studios, and Lacey eventually became a full-time professional session musician, partly satiating his eclectic tastes and musical range. He spent most of the 1990s working on numerous recordings for both up-and-coming artists and established ones (Clifford T. Ward, for instance) as well as bread-and-butter projects for BBC television and radio. By the late '90s, Lacey decided in earnest to begin his solo career. While still maintaining a session work schedule, he spent any spare time that he had recording his own music on his own home portastudio, where he was free from time and financial constraints imposed by studios and record labels. Playing most of the instruments himself, he took two years to conceptualize and record his songs -- essentially created in succession as a thematic whole -- and the result was the sensational BEAM! The album indeed bears the melodic stamp of '60s pop, but it is far more than that narrow description implies: an enveloping, idyllic personal statement with elements of new age and new Romantic musics in addition to its obvious hooks. The music soon caught the ear of David Paramor, who had worked as a record producer at EMI in the 1960s. Although Lacey had intended them as demos, Paramor was so taken by the songs and their continuation of the chamber pop legacy that he immediately released BEAM! on his own independent label, RP Media. Within two months' time, the album had almost impossibly created a sizable buzz on both sides of the Atlantic by word-of-mouth, grass-roots effort alone and with little official publicity, earning champions in fans of the Beach Boys' art rock period, lovers of sophisticated pop, and music critics alike. Lacey spent 2000 recording the sequel to BEAM! [BEAM! is exclusively available from RP Media (www.rpmedia.force9.co.uk/lacey).] ~ Stanton Swihart