This chap apparently began playing the piano when he was five and at fifteen turned down the offer to go professional and instead chose a career in film production. He then worked on numerous projects as a freelance producer, director, writer and composer. You have to go back to 1984 and an album “Tales Of Heroes And Lovers” to find the first recording of this American musician, singing and playing most instruments with some support. A second progressive rock album then followed in 1996: “It’s Not Too Late”, with vocals by William Drews, but neither are seemingly traceable. Then in 1997 he began to work with Camel, among others, which led to him producing and directing a number of concert and documentary DVDs for them including the sublime Coming Of Age. This review covers four tracks:
“The Sound of Dreams” is only part of a ten minute song. Annie Haslam’s vocals will lead to the inevitable direct reference to Renaissance, and musically this album does glow with the nuances and evocative melodic prog sounds of the 70’s and 80’s, gliding along in the wake of bands such as The Moody Blues, Barclay James Harvest, The Alan Parsons Project and Camel. Great bass noodling, nice guitar solo, sweeping keys and a an emotive key change. No surprise when you realise that Steve Hackett and Billy Sherwood are on there……Pure retro.
“Masquerade” shows off those aforementioned piano skills at the beginning of an eight minute “single” version of a 12 minute track that features a certain Andy Latimer. A saturated mellotron opening gives this an even more retro vibe, two emotional verses before a launch into a gloriously classic Latimer solo section. Worth the entrance money alone. Gorgeously lush synths follow, clever chord changes allowing a swell before a delicious Latimer reprise to close.
“Room with Dark Corners” offers keyboard fanfares between slightly more commercial-leaning verses well sung by a self-harmonising Ragins. Minasian clearly has a great ear for melodic touches, with guitar and keys interludes adding pomp and colour. Four minutes long I suspect the full album version will offer more. But nothing wrong with this taster.
“Summer’s End”. I wonder who will think of a certain Camel track when they hear this piano intro….. but then it goes full on Moody Blues vocals. We get the full album length this time, nearly eight minutes of lusciousness, bombast and symphonic peaks including soaring Latimer-esque guitar breaks. But you’ll be more led to association with the Moodies on this one, soaked in grandiose orchestral mellotron as it is.
Perhaps on a par with Mandalaband, the fact that this chap has secured the services of such legends indicates the quality of the music, and these selections are most enjoyable in retrospect, and a fantastic taster for both the full best of album, and their original source albums. And this is only the best of part one, mind you….
- The Sound of Dreams and Masquerade
- Room with Dark Corners and Summers End