Melodic Revolution Records Feature Album March 2018 | Marco Ragni | The Wandering Caravan
Label – Melodic Revolution Records Release Year – 2018 Country – Italy/International Genre – Progressive/Psychedelic Rock
Band Members Marco Ragni – Vocals/Electric and Acoustic Guitars/Bass/Keyboards/Mellotron/Piano/Mandolin Dave Newhouse – Sax/Clarinet/Flute/Keyboards and Woodwinds Arrangements Jeff Mack – Bass Peter Matchuniak – Lead Guitar Maurizio Antonini – Drums
Special Guests Luca Zambini – Hammond Organ Ian Beabout – Flute Nadav Yitzhak – Oud Michael Zentenar – Violin
Track Listing What We Have Done In The Past We’ll Be In The Future Waiting On The Threshold Promised Land Which Is The Right Path To Take ? It’s Only Fantasy What Are We Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom ? Keep Dreaming Back Home Again
Sometime in early to mid spring of 2015 I came into a discovery of Melodic Revolution Records. Its founder Nick Katona had friend requested me over on Facebook and soon the discovery unfolded much like the opening of Pandora’s Box for me. The talent on this label is on par with any other label on the planet today. As far as progressive rock, psychedelic rock, etc … Melodic Revolution Records is both untapped as far as its deep roster of talent and a label on the verge of just one release breaking right to become a household name within the progressive, psychedelic rock community. I feel that the subject of this review Marco Ragni will have a lot of say into the future of Melodic Revolution Records as a collective.
Marco Ragni is no stranger to the Power Of Prog community either. Back in 2016 I presented two very different reviews of this Italian Progressive Genius. The first was the very personal introspective double concept album Mother From The Sunand the very intelligent and thought provoking Land Of Blue Echoes. Now in 2018 I return to review the appropriately titled, Marco Ragni’s The Wandering Caravan. This current offering sees Marco Ragni return with some familiar faces and label mates such as Jeff Mack – Bass – (Scarlet Hollow), Peter Matuchniak – Guitar – (Gekko Project, The Steppes Tribute To Early Steve Hackett and Bomber Goggles).
Then there are some newer musicians to the Marco Ragni franchise. Making their debut’s to the franchise on The Wandering Caravan are Italian drummer Maurizio Antonini, Luca Zabbini – Hammond Organ– (Barock Project), Ian Beabout – Flute, Nadav Yitzhak – Oud, Michael Zentiner – Violin – (Zenlandband). Marco Ragni has a uncanny ability to assemble world class musicians on his projects and The Wandering Caravan is certainly no exception. The returning talent is also a testament that Melodic Revolution Records has a very heavy family like atmosphere where its musicians really want to work with one another.
With The Wandering Caravan, Marco Ragni brings a little of his last four releases with him. There are some of the vast atmospheric structures from Mother From The Sun, the technical, yet futuristic and forward thinking progressive rock from Land Of Blue Echoes, there are the more precise to the point radio hits much in the vein of Californiawith songs like It’s Only Fantasy, Back Home Again,Which Is The Right Path To Take and Promised Land, with some of the more experimental psychedelic elements of Rajanty especially with tracks such as What We Have Done In The Past We’ll Be In The Future and Waiting On The Threshold. The Wandering Caravan is basically a progressive rock symphony in 8 movements. Each movement that I will now proceed to elaborate on.
What We Have Done In The Past We’ll Be In The Future begins with a little Latin flair with the acoustic guitar style of Marco Ragni himself. It soon fortifies into a well structured atmospheric track off the flamenco acoustic chord progressions. The acoustical chord progressions allow for the heavier more straight forward lead guitar sections which are done by one of the world’s most criminally under rated guitarists Mr. Peter Matchuniak, (Gekko Project, The Steppes : A Tribute To Early Steve Hackett). Peter Matchuniak is a beautiful well balanced blend of David Gilmour meets Steve Hackett with a sprinkle of ‘The Canterbury Sound’ of Pye Hastings of Caravan.
A cacophony of various woodwind instruments along with a Hammond Organ make for a blast of sheer progressive bliss. They carry elements or progressive rock’s past with modern more contemporary elements for a current listening audience. This is also a a testament of true growth as a songwriter and musician that accompanies further maturity. With the flutes there is a heavy Jethro Tull style within this track. Whether it is deliberate or by influence it is done with the utmost taste and class. This is all enhanced by lyrical content that allows the listener to take the song in so many directions within the screen of the theater of the mind.
Waiting On The Threshold opens up with a fine woven tapestry of various piano, wind and keyboard passages. Marco’s very distinct vocal comes in with semi isolation off the instrumental portion. The relationship between the vocal and instrumental allows for both sides the ability to breathe without one suffocating the other. There is also a beautiful dynamic of lead guitar and acoustic guitar’s in a gentle, warm inviting melody. The underlying flute makes for a very interesting world music element that will have a instant international flavour to the composition. This one is also full of some longer instrumental passages.
This track also contains some heavily induced folk elements. Marco Ragni has some strong elements of Pink Floyd and Cat Steven’s vocal elements blended with the great expanse of the instrumental working perfectly in union with one another. The song closes out with some beautifully arranged jazz elements which are articulated by the saxophone. Some of the closing jazz portions remind me a lot of Weather Report meets Camel with a little twist of Caravan.
Promised Land opens up with a very strong psychedelic folk passage. This is created with the well blended elements of acoustic and semi acoustic guitar’s mixed with elegant flutes to accompany them. Soon the vocal harmonies and more up tempo chord progressions enter in along with the powerful rhythm section. This is the first track on the album that really has a distinct and definite rhythm section compared to the previous two songs. The rhythm section has more atmospheric than heavy laden time signatures. It also transitions smooth and seamlessly into the following track Which Is The Right Path To Take? The seamless transition has some serious overall 1960’s style psychedelic vocal harmony’s and song melodies.
Which Is The Right Path To Take? picks up smoothly where Promised Land left off. It does so with heavy and profound psychedelic elements. The vocal harmonies are very woven off various layers where one vocal track is blended in from another vocal harmony. This layering continues to the point where there are three to four vocals playing off and on each other. The various vocal layers continue until there is a main lead vocal passage anchoring the track. The lead guitar has a heavy influence into the various directions of the song. These heavy stringed influenced sections are a definite staple into the identity of Marco Ragni’s music and this track validates this. Both the lead and backing vocal’s run in spot on perfect time with the open expanse of the stringed section.
It’s Only Fantasy opens up with a deep dark piano passage. The passage gives the listener the appearance that Marco is isolated in a open acoustic friendly room with just him, his heart and voice. This is very heavily laden elements of Avant Garde and RIO, (Rock In Opposition). This is done with a lead piano chord progression that meets up with various woodwind instruments along with some semi conventional keyboard passages that sound very heavy in a regressive state of mind. If you, the listener, enjoy some Avant Garde/RIOcream in your straight blacken normal progressive coffee than this is perfect to start your morning music journey. This song finishes up with more straight away traditional heavy prog chord progressions.
What Are We Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom? opens up with a more traditional progressive rock passage. You can hear all the hallmarks that distinguish progressive rock from other genres. There is a beautifully performed Hammond Organ along with a deep bass and drum aesthetic. The deep tones from both the rhythm section and organ synth’s along with the strong atmospheric backdrop satisfy the purists of the genre. Soon the instrumental atmosphere gives way to various effects of innocence as we here children at play. Much like Mother From The Sun, Marco Ragni has a very uncanny method at conveying innocence through his musical compositions. What Are We Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom? continues to validate what seems to be a signature staple in Marco Ragni’s musical legacy. Overall What AreWe Willing To Lose To Regain Our Freedom? is a very uplifting song that is both a progressive rock opus and a classic rock masterpiece.
Keep Dreaming opens up with a deep profound piano with highly lush tones and dark melodies. The added beauty in darkness is the vocal which perfectly compliments the instrumental section. The first few minutes transport the listener into a symphony hall atmosphere. Soon after a hint of the acoustic guitar is sprinkled in to add melodious flavour to the arrangement. The song goes from dark and somber to one of uplifting enlightenment. The instrumental is uplifting and the lyrical portion is in perfect harmony to the instrumental. Marco Ragni always has a intricate way of taking the listeners minds and moods from dark somber landscapes to horizons of pure enlightenment. Towards the end the track display’s heavy symphonic and progressive folk elements. Keep Dreaming is a classic textbook example to this. It is also a track with many vintage elements from the late 1960’s and 1970’s however with a modern 21st Century accent on it. Keep Dreaming seamlessly transitions into the final song of the album Back Home Again. The transition reminds me a lot of the seamless transition from Any Colour You Like to Brain Damage off Pink Floyd’s Darkside Of The Moon.
Back Home Again transitions beautifully from Keep Dreaming. The track takes a very heavy folk rock chord progression along with vocal harmonies that perfectly compliment the instrumental part. The tone that Back Home Again takes is very simple yet relaxed. This is written in such a way that allows the listener to begin to absorb and appreciate what that have just heard on the album as a collective, which is difficult to do sometimes. The violin eloquently performed by Michael Zentenar is the unsung hero on this one and helps to anchor mood of the song.
In the short few years I have known Marco Ragni through social media and his music, it has completely been bewildering and inspiring all at the same time. He definitely has the ability to transcend many sub genres that now lay under the progressive rock banner. Marco Ragni is definitely one of progressive rock’s new standard bearer’s who is carrying the flag among the contemporary progressive rock community. The Wandering Caravan is another masterpiece that will cement Marco Ragni’s legacy as such. I give Marco Ragni’s The Wandering Caravan a 5/5.
Guest Musicians James Labrie – Vocals – President Evil/Taken (Radio Edit)/ A Place In Heaven/Taken (Studio Edit)
Most Beautiful Day President Evil (feat. James LaBrie) Hardest Way Purple Angels The Best of Magic Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Radio Edit] 18 Euphoria A Place in Heaven (feat. James LaBrie) Ghostwriter Limousine Back in the Shadow Taken (feat. James LaBrie)
For the last 25 years any time you heard about or were introduced to a ‘female-fronted’ band the general conclusion drawn is usually that the band must be a Symphonic metal band. Symphonic Metal meaning the inclusion of choirs and small to large orchestral aesthetics. The other conclusion drawn is that the band must be a Beauty & Beast metal band. Beauty & Beast meaning the male vocal takes on a full guttural death metal style growl and the female vocal is full operatic. In 85% of the cases this has all been true. The other 10% of the remaining 15% has come from the progressive rock/metal community.
When I mention Progressive Metal I mean a blend of heavy, guitar-oriented metal music enriched with compositions innovation and complex arrangements, usually expressed through diverse instrumentation and often (but not always) with odd-time signatures. To take what progressive rock pioneers did and add a metal element in the compositions and song arrangements.
Pioneering ‘female fronted’ progressive metal are The Gathering, To Mera, Agora, After Forever, Kingfisher Sky and Stream Of Passion & Ayreon ,to a certain extent. Bands who are now innovating ‘female fronted’ progressive metal are Vandroya from Brazil, MindMaze from the United States, Ancient Prophecy, Flaming Row, Universal Mind Project Amaranthe from Sweden and now from Italy Last Union.
Last Union are one of the most pure progressive/power/melodic metal bands to come around in the last 10 years. It is no secret by now that Italy has been one of the leading countries to produce quality progressive rock/metal bands since the late 1960’s. Bands like Death SS, Novembre, Rhapsody, Eldritch, Empty Tremor and Vision Divine are a few of many progressive metal bands to come forth from Italy. Even one of the top 5 Rock/Metal Opera’s of all time with Daniele Liverani’s GENIUS Rock/Metal Opera.
Last Union continues this rich melodic tradition from Italy. Last Union now enters that discussion of the rich progressive metal tradition from Italy. On a global front Last Union are a natural progression into the evolution of progressive metal. Last Union’s line up is nothing short of remarkable. Last Union was founded by Elisa Scarpeccio – Vocals and Christiano Tiberi – Guitars, Mike Lepond – Bass (Symphony X) and the legendary Uli Kusch – Drums (ex-Helloween/Gamma Ray).
On the surface Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day seems like just a collection of 11 different songs representing 11 different days. However the more the listener engages the album alongside the album booklet with more detailed attention you begin to see the songs line up as a common themed conceptual album.Mike Lepond from Symphony X once again proves why he is one of ,if not the most sought after bass player in the progressive rock and metal communities. Uli Kusch once again proves his legendary drummer prowess that helped bands like Helloween become the international band they were. To see the tracks line up this way the listener really needs to spend time in the booklet as they listen. Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day is straight prog/power from the first to last riff on the album. I will point some highlights out from each of the 11 tracks on this offering.
Most Beautiful Day opens up as a straight away heavy metal track. That is met in a two part vocal harmony between the female and male narrative. The female obviously being a very strong lead and male lead serving more in a echo capacity. The guitar is very modern. The guitar has the depth of sound of a seven string. Elisa Scarpeccio has one of the most distinctive voices to come along in the progressive metal community within the last 15 years.
President Evil (feat. James LaBrie) begins with a heavy rhythm based chord progression. Cristiano Tiberi quickly establishes himself as a guitarist with a very unique and distinctive sound and style of play. Cristiano Tiberi certainly does a fine job separating his sound among his peers. He literally has to in order for this song to not come off as any Dream Theater or James Labrie solo project. James Labrie displays great vocal presence alongside the rhythmic portion of this track. There is a nice harmonic break in the middle before a powerful two tier guitar solo comes in.
Hardest Way sees the band’s focus directed more towards the bass/drum rhythm section in harmony with some warmer vocal work from Elisa. This track also allows Elisa to show various aspects to her vocals. She certainly has her own sound and I am sure as the band begin to play shows on Most Beautiful Day, the world will see a young and powerful vocalist that is to be reckoned with.
Purple Angels continues to see the band experiment with various rhythm styles along with various vocal harmonies to perfectly compliment those intricate rhythm sections. The vocals sound like a mini choir briefly until Elisa comes in with authority with the lead vocal. There is a great balance in the vocals. The vocal work goes in and out between lead, to backing vocals in a echo. About the 2:00 mark there is a nice break in the instrumental that allows for the lead vocal to really come through.
The Best of Magic begins almost like a classic AOR track. The start of this track takes on a heavier ballad style about it. This track is a very easy song to follow. It could be one of those songs that the fan base of this band will sing back to them in a live setting. The guitar solo is very uplifting and the chord progressions smoother.
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Radio Edit] starts out with a wall of both a lead guitar solo and a deep rhythmic section between the guitar/bass/drum. The crunchy distortion in the guitar gives this various depths of heaviness. The intricate vocal presentation between James Labrie and Elisa Scarpeccio is nothing short of stellar. Elisa even sounds a little like James in various lines. If you are a listener following the booklet you will see a common theme conceptual thing happening.
18 Euphoria starts out with a powerful chord progressive passage. This is met with some very powerful vocal work. The vocal work really takes on various levels of harmony. This track clearly displays the bands ability to experiment with various levels of vocal harmonies.
A Place in Heaven (feat. James LaBrie) starts out with a beautiful semi acoustic guitar that has another wonderful and heavier guitar double tracked that allows the track to feel like many guitars are the driving force. Cristiano Tiberi has a very uncanny ability of double tracking and making the guitar sound like a instrument in union and agreement with itself. There is a wonderfully engineered spoken word section in this song as well. The guitar solos and rhythm sections are total beasts here. Uli Kusch shows again why he is one of metal’s legendary drummers.
Ghostwriter starts out as more of a pure power metal track with progressive elements. This track storms ahead with a power metal passage that has various intricate chord progressive elements. This is one of the faster and heavier tracks on the album. The solos are hugs, the bass/drum rhythm section storms all the way through this track.
Limousine is another hard and heavy progressive metal track on the album. Much in the way Ghostwriter is the power track, this one sees the band taking a few more chances at intricate progressive time signatures. The atmosphere is completely straight away power/progressive through this one as well.
Back in the Shadow begins with a more experimental intro before the track takes on a more ‘pure power metal’ presence. The band by now has established themselves as great students to progressive metal but with modern elements.
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Studio Edit] this is almost twice as long as the radio edit for obvious reasons. However I would be remiss is omitting that this track is also the epic on the track clocking in at 8+ minutes.That is rather short for progressive standards however this track is still done with great detail and care. The band takes much more time on the intro and the outro portions of the song. This also shows that the band is capable of longer compositions if they want to ever go in that direction.
For being very young both Elisa Scarpeccio and Cristiano Tiberi had a very clear vision on how Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day needed to sound. These fine young musicians even recruited some of the very best in the world with Mike LePond, Uli Kusch and James Labrie. Most Beautiful Day lacks nothing in substance. Although the tracks are shorter considering the other work of their recruits and guest musician, they still meet and fill the objective the band put in place. For the detail and insight of such young musicians I give Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day a 4/5.
Label : Inner Wound Records Release Year : 2016 Country: International Genre: Progressive/Power Metal
Elina Laivera – Vocals Henrik Bath – [Darkwater] – Vocals Michael Alexander – Guitars/Growls Alex Landenburg – [Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, Octane 21] – Drums
Nils K Rue [Pagan’s Mind] – Vocals on “Bargain of Lost Souls” Mark Jansen [Epica, Mayan] – Growls on “Anthem For Freedom”, “Truth” and “Dreamstate” Charlie Dominici [ex. Dream Theater] – Vocals on “The Jaguar Priest” Diego Valdez [Helker] – Vocals on “Awakened By The Light” and “Seven” Alessandro Bissa [Vision Divine] – Drums on “Dreamstate”, “Anthem For Freedom”, “Awakened By The Light”, “Bargain Of Lost Souls” and “Truth” Mike LePond [Symphony X] – Bass on “Truth” and “The Force Of Our Creation” Emanuele Casali [DGM] – Keyboards on all tracks Johan Reinholz [Andromeda]- Guitar solo on “The Force Of Our Creation” 07:08-07:30
01. Anthem For Freedom 02. Truth 03. The Bargain Of Lost Souls 04. Dreamstate 05. Awakened By The Light (Universal Mind) 06. A World That Burns 07. Seven 08. The Jaguar Priest 09. The Force Of Our Creation 10. Xibalba
Ever since I heard about the Universal Mind Project back in 2013 my anticipation has been nothing short than exciting. The anticipation and wait were well worth it. The Universal Mind Project is very well appropriately named. The core of Elina Laivera , Michael Alexander , Henrik Bath and Alex Landberg carefully selected the right talent as guest musicians on Universal Mind Project The Jaguar Priest. Considering the line up of vocalists as Nils K Rue [Pagan’s Mind] – Vocals on “Bargain of Lost Souls” , Mark Jansen [Epica, Mayan] – Growls on “Anthem For Freedom”, “Truth” and “Dreamstate” , Charlie Dominici [ex. Dream Theater] – Vocals on “The Jaguar Priest” , Diego Valdez [Helker] – Vocals on “Awakened By The Light” and “Seven” and on the instrumentalists side, Alessandro Bissa [Vision Divine] – Drums on “Dreamstate”, “Anthem For Freedom”, “Awakened By The Light”, “Bargain Of Lost Souls” and “Truth” , Mike LePond [Symphony X] – Bass on “Truth” and “The Force Of Our Creation” , Emanuele Casali [DGM] – Keyboards on all tracks , Johan Reinholz [Andromeda]- Guitar solo on “The Force Of Our Creation” 07:08-07:30. It makes for the perfect tools for the canvas of such masterpiece.
On Universal Mind Project The Jaguar Priest,Elina Laivera has clearly established herself as a force to be reckoned with as a vocalist, songwriter and lyricist. It is also good to see Elina Laivera find a home and outlet for her genius and talent. Her partner in crime in the songwriting department Michael Alexander has definitely set himself up as well to be a force in progressive metal or metal music in general. What I appreciate the most about the writing team of Laivera/Alexander is their uncanny genius and ability to write towards the strengths of their guest vocalists.
They write towards the strengths of the guest musicians so much that it is as if the guest vocalists and instrumentalists are playing totally on point in their own element as if they are performing with their primary bands or outfits. That was something that really impressed me as I was listening to this. Elina Laivera and Michael Alexander tailored every passage and progression where the guests players could be distinguished. They appear to have a intricate knowledge of talent and just how to display it perfectly on the canvas that is The Jaguar Priest.
In the tracks Anthem For Freedom, Truth and Dreamstate the listener can clearly distinguish Mark Jansen’s legendary growls that he has used in After Forever, Epica and Maya. Even throughout Anthem For Freedom and the rest of the album Emanuele Casali [DGM] – Keyboards’ . The instrumental portion is stellar and matches the talent perfectly. On Bargain Of Lost Souls, Nils. K Rue really turns it loose. I almost feel for a brief second I am listening to Pagans Mind however I am not. That is another testament of the great songwriting that carefully went into consideration on this album.
On the title track The Jaguar Priest I have a appreciation of the writing democracy they band had allowing Charlie Dominci to write the lyrics . Without giving too much away Universal Mind Project The Jaguar Priest is thematic concept. Every song represents a story that all 10 tracks tie into a common story. Universal Mind Project The Jaguar Priest is one of the finest and well written albums of artistic expression since I first heard Ayreon’s Into The Electric Castle in 1998. It has the appeal of a rock/metal opera yet with so much more conviction. This album will be a album talked about for many decades to come. I declined to do a track by track analysis on his album because it needs to have the listener’s entire attention without preconceived scrutiny.
The hooks and melodies and harmonies are world class and some of the very best in the world. I hope they consider a follow up to The Jaguar Priest. I also believe The Jaguar Priest is part of the further posterity and life of progressive metal and metal in general.In a year where we have lost so many Icons of rock already, I believe Universal Mind Project’s The Jaguar Priest and all its participants are poised to carry the torches left by those Icons. This album gets a 5/5 and is potential Album Of The Year 2016material.
Label: Seacrest Oy, Musea Release Year: 2016 Country: International Genre: Progressive Rock
Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Basses, Project Coordinator Steve Unruh – Vocals, Violin, Flute Kimmo Porsti – Drums And Percussion, Audio Engineering With : 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)
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 epicInception. 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’sKing 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 minichapters 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 !!!
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