The Samurai Of Prog |Lost And Found
Label: Seacrest Oy, Musea
Release Year: 2016
Genre: Progressive Rock
Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Basses, Project Coordinator
Steve Unruh – Vocals, Violin, Flute
Kimmo Porsti – Drums And Percussion, Audio Engineering
Stefan Renstrom – Keyboards, Arrangements
David Meyers – Music Composer
Tom Donocourt – Keyboards, Music Composer
Chip Gremillion – Keyboards, Music Composer
Ken DeLoria – Music Composer
And Special Guests:
Jojan Ollen – Electric And Acoustic Guitars on ( She/Plight of the Swan/The Demise)
Karmen Alan Shilkoh – Electric Guitar (Inception)
Jon Davison -Vocals (She)
Steve Scorfina – Electric Guitar (Preludin)
Richard Maddocks – Narration (The Demise)
Keith Christian – Vocals (The Demise)
Mark Trueack – Vocals (The Demise)
Linus Kase – Saxophones (The Demise)
Llorian Garcia -Electronic Bagpipes (The Demise)
Physical CD Artwork – Ed Unitsky
Sometimes in the Prog Rock Community certain releases and recordings are all about timing and their respective due dates. This is certainly a fact for The Samurai of Prog Lost and Found. Dusted off from old cassette recordings or reel to reel recordings from band jam sessions, the six track 2 CD set were once and for all given the light of day. The Samurai of Prog present a very 1970’s vintage progressive rock sound with some very modern elements and sensibilities. Lost and Found carries all the signature hallmarks of vintage late 1960’s to 1970’s progressive rock supplying the listener with tracks from 2:00 minutes + to 57:00 minutes + in length thus giving a full journey and audio experience motion picture in the theater of the mind of the audience.
The Samurai of Prog’s core unit of Marco Bernard, Steve Unruh and Kimmo Porsti have definitely come to the table with a cohesive plan and vision for Lost and Found. For as ambitious as the band appear on Lost and Found, they are also very modest as to allow every passage, progression and time signature to breathe and allow the listener to absorb what they are listening to moment by moment. The band were very keen on eliminating most of the compression that sadly ruins a lot of great music nowadays. Throughout my review I will be doing a analysis on each track and for the first time ever the brilliant packaging of the physical CD.
The Artwork Of Ed Unitsky
The artwork of Ed Unitsky on The Samurai of Prog’s Lost and Found reminds me a lot of the world of Gentle Giant, especially their 1970 debut self titled masterpiece. When you open the gate fold to the CD there are three men who represent the three core members of The Samurai of Prog, Marco Bernard, Steve Unruh and Kimmo Porsti. The two jacket sleeves for the two CD’s is like that of vinyl where you have the sleeve covering the wax, except in this case it is more like cardstock jackets with tasteful and appropriate depictions of the respective music presented on each CD. The artwork of Ed Unitsky really does reflect the collective personality of Lost and Found as a whole.
The Samurai of Prog’s sound carries a vast collection of influences ranging from Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The lyrical content is a perfect compliment to the instrumental orchestration and production. Although this is not billed as a ‘Concept Album,’ the engineering and production are very concept minded in scope and arrangement. CD 2 with the 57:18 track The Demise could take on a very in depth conceptual appearance in nature as it takes up the entire second CD. Now let’s explore The Samurai of Prog’s Lost and Found.
The Samurai of Prog’s Lost and Found opens up with two back to back instrumentals with Preludin and Along The Way. These instrumentals are both effective for both old and new fans alike. They give the older fans and listeners a wonder melodic reminder of who The Samurai of Prog are. It works for the newer fans in a way that the instrumentals are a great way for a newer audience to find out the band’s sound and presentation.
Preludin opens with a beautiful rhythm section with the violin and flute wonderfully tracked in harmony with the melody. It is almost in the vein of Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull at many times throughout the track. Preludin also has a 16th Century appeal about it as well. This track contains some basic progressive time signatures however this is a warm up for the journey to come in Lost and Found. Around the 4:35 mark the piano comes into play heavily with the violin and flute giving Preludin another layer of progressive excellence. Throughout the whole project the listener will also notice that the band allows for every instrument to be heard and breathe.
Along The Way begins with a beautiful stand alone piano passage. This really serves well to even the harsh of critics. The piano passage is allowed to breathe and serve as a prelude to the next track the 20:02 epic Inception. Along The Way is sort of like the melodic trailer for the 20:02 film about to be shown in the theater of the mind with Inception.
Inception elegantly opens with a flute and keyboard combination that is appropriately layered and engineered on top the rhythm bass/drum section. There is a method to the band’s madness and at about 1:40 mark the lyrical content comes in to carry the listener off into a epic journey of harmony between the lyrical section and instrumental portion. Inception reminds me so much of the classic progressive rock epics such as The Revealing Science of God: Dance of the Dawn and The Remembering (High the Memory) from Yes’ Tales of Topographic Oceans, Genesis Suppers Ready, Tarkus from Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Pink Floyd’s Echoes with a sprinkle of Gentle Giant over top of it.
The keyboards early on during Inception take almost a Kraftwerk electronic vibe before they move towards the more traditional progressive rock pattern of being a highlight over a very deep rhythm section between the bass and drums. The vocals have that distinct Gentle Giant vibe that they breathe and steer away from the compressed and rushed vocals or long vocal lines.
She (Who Must Be Obeyed) has many reminders of Yes’ And You And I and Heart Of The Sunrise. The vocals take a very high alto soprano personality much like Jon Anderson did with the Yes’ tracks I just mentioned. This one has has deep lush profound rhythm melodies that place a lot character on the track. This track takes on a mild orchestral vibe with certain breaks and passages as well. The last half or 6:00 minutes plus, the track takes on a heavy Celtic old world sound with modern elements and sensibility in certain places.
Plight Of The Swan opens with a nice beautiful piano passage with warm vocal melodies and harmonies. Soon it takes on a very heavy 1970’s King Crimson meets Gentle Giant sound. The thunderous almost proto thrash instrumental passages meeting a very articulate vocal harmony. The Hammond style synth takes on a more complimentary element to accompany the bass/drum rhythm section. The keyboard also serves a quiet mild element while the isolated vocal harmonies are at play. Plight Of The Swan is a very traditional progressive hard rock piece in its very nature.
CD 2 (The Demise) 57:18
The Demise is a mini motion picture film for the prog minded. It gives the collection of the 2 CD set of Lost and Found a conceptual landscape. It begins with a narrative which sets this epic up to begin to paint that picture on to the tapestry of the listeners mind. The lyrical content in a nutshell is about a society in jeopardy whose leaders send on magistrate out to begin to restore order from chaos. On top of the opening narrative the track on the musical side is broken up in to 36 parts like 36 mini chapters of a novel telling a very captivating story.
The first 15:00 to 20:00 minutes the track is like Yes joining Gentle Giant and King Crimson to bring a very heavy handed progressive rock epic to a vast progressive rock audience. The old school Hammond Organ style keyboard blended with the flute sounds new again recorded with modern methods in hand to bring something satisfactory to many progressive rock audio palettes. Around the 21:00 mark the track reflects more of a classical symphony orchestration with the various progressions, time signatures and passages. The band has this uncanny ability to take both stringed and horned sections that are inside a symphony and transcribe those melodic narratives to the instruments they have before them.
The keyboard passages throughout The Demise are as if they share a intimate kinship with the style of Rick Wakeman’s Journey To The Center Of The Earth. The Demise continues to draw the listener into the story in such a way as to allow the passages to breathe so the listener can really absorb both the lyrical portion and instrumental portion evenly transporting the listener into the world the band created here.
At around the 40:00 mark the bagpipes fire up as if a old world Celtic king is being welcomed home from a battle on the war field. It begins to wrap up the absolution of the story as a collective. The final 17:00 minutes allow for the listener to be enveloped into the elaborate ceremony and pageantry of the moment in the world the band created for this kingdom. If the listener gives The Demise full attention they can definitely become immersed into another dimension, a vacation in the mind to a different world.
There is a quote or a saying that goes something like this, “It is not where you start in life it is how you finish.” The Samurai of Prog with Lost and Found are the perfect example of this. For having such a rocky and rough start on tape and going through the digital metamorphosis to the final product, the band surely had not only a clear vision but the courage to finish this collection of songs. They also remained totally on point of their objective and now the world can enjoy the epic journey that is the collection of tracks on Lost and Found. Do not be surprised if this winds up in my Top 5 of 2016 as it is a very heavy contender for Album of 2016 with me. This gets a 5/5 for excellence.
Thank you Marty Dorfman at The Waiting Room with The Prog Doctor at House of Prog again !!!