Álbum: The Twenty Seven Club
Género: Rock sinfónico
Lista de Temas:
1. The Lizard King
2. Ladyland Blues
5. The Gift
6. The Devil At The Crossroads
1. The Lizard King
2. Ladyland Blues
5. The Gift
6. The Devil At The Crossroads
- Christina Booth / vocals
- Chris Fry / guitar
- Rob Reed / keyboards, bass, guitar
Andy Edwards (IQ and Frost*) / drums
En el 2013 intenté seguir un hilo temátito basado en hacer una reseña de los mejores discos que salían ese año. Duró ese año nada más, luego no me dió el cuero, pero en esos comentarios no fueron dejados los links de desacarga. Este disco pertenece a ese hilo y ahora El Mago Alberto nos deja los links correspondientes para que puedan disfrutar de un disco inspirado en la corta vida de Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin y Robert Johnson.
Y llegó... un verdadero buen disco para este 2013, de una banda que me gusta mucho. Grandes temas para un gran álbum, cargado de emotividad, dinamismo y musicalidad. Llegó el disco de Magenta, y se las trae. Sobre los temas, bueno, suenan más o menos así:
Pasen vean lo que podrán escuchar cuando puedan tener y escuchar el disco.
Y llegó, acá tenemos el último disco de los geniales Magenta. Y con disco recién salido, este es uno de los primeros comentarios que hacen de él. Nuevamente bajo el liderazgo de Rob Reed, con su excelente instrumentación y la innigualable voz de Christina Booth dándole el espíritu y la vida a cada track.
Magenta sorprendió al mini-mundo del rock hace unos 12 años, con su impresionante disco debut "Revolutions", un álbum lleno de excelentes temas y poemas épicos. Luego vino "Seven" y Magenta se terminó estableciendo en muy poco tiempo como una de las mejores bandas de la escena, ganando premios y ganando mucho respeto y sacando algunos discazos. Ahora, con este último trabajo, me pregunto si estamos en presencia de los sucesores de los emblemáticos Yes... aunque las influencias no terminan con esta bnadota, contar todos los motivos progresivos que aparecen en todas partes y que les resultarán familiares sería redundante, todos están allí, pero nunca suenan artificial ni suena a copia de nada. Solamente están allí... listos para que los escuchen
Antes de hablar sobre los temas del álbum, lo primero es el sonido del álbum, debo recalcar antes que nada, que yendo a contramano de los tiempos y de como se trata el sonido generalmente, este álbum tiene un sonido albsolutamente genial, está fuera de todo "perilleo", no solamente no tiene los niveles de volumen exageradamente altos sino que hasta incluso está debajo de lo normal, la cosa es que me ha dejado subir absolutamente todos los niveles al tope y he disfrutado todo ese rango dinámico que nos brinda la suavidad de las secciones tranquilas y toda la potencia de las secciones más enérgicas.
Y este posible candidato para el álbum del año, con su brillante progresivo sinfónico tan en la onda de Yes, con una guitarra tocada a lo Steve Howe, un bajo que está en la escuela de Chris Squire. Y lo que es para remarcar ¿este álbum bastará para quitarle la etiqueta de "neoprogresivo"?. Magenta hace rock sinfónico y nunca entendí porqué los catalogaban como "neoprogresivos", inexplicable... quizás por su sonido moderno?. Pero es una ridiculez decir que esto es neoprogresivo, escuchando este álbum es evidente. Incluso su música es muy derivado de Yes, como dijimos, auno a no confundirse, esto tiene personalidad propia, las canciones tienen un trabajo compositivo fenomenal, que buscan escaparle a los lugares comunes tanto de cualquier canción, como del estilo sinfónico, como los de ellos mismos. Aunque con su sonido que suena a una remembranza continua de Yes, el grupo busca transitar permanentemente por caminos nuevos senderos.
No es un disco fácil de entrar, las canciones son bastante complejas, con muchos ritmos y compases diferentes y sin el reconocimiento de estribillos gancheros. Me tomó un par de días para apreciar todo lo que pasa en el álbum; pero una vez descubiertas las múltiplez facetas del disco resulta tentador, original y complejo. Imagino que a cualquier amante de la música progresiva le resulta delicioso descubrir nuevas cosas cada vez que escucha un disco, bueno, aquí tiene miles de detalles para descubrir, a veces sutiles y otras no tanto, pero es un álbum son muchas facetas y muchos detalles. Y que requerirá de cierta atención que serán recompensados con muchos momentos (cada vez que escuchen el disco) de disfrute.
Pues como algunos ya sabían, la banda Magenta está de vuelta y presentan el adelanto 'The Lizard King' en un videoclip. Su sexto disco se llama 'The Twenty Seven Club', el cual llegará el 2 de septiembre.Pablo M. Beleña
El disco llega con la frase de Rob Reed, que dice estar convencido de que es su mejor trabajo hasta el momento en declaraciones a 'Prog Magazine'. El compositor también ha comentado: "Espero que la gente nos descartó en el pasado nos dé una oportunidad con este álbum. Los temas y la producción es lo mejor que hemos hecho hasta ahora".
La versión que ofrece la banda de 'The Lizard King' es una edición de single de poco más de 5 minutos, cuando en el disco forma parte de una pieza épica de 12 minutos. Magenta lo ha escogido como carta de presentación porque "representa el disco al completo: grandes temas, buenas melodías y buena musicalidad".
'The Twenty Seven Club' ha durado 5 años en realizarse, y está inspirado en el grupo de músicos y artistas que murieron en el llamado 'club de los 27 años', como Jim Morrison (conocido como El Rey Lagarto, de ahí el título del tema, ‘The Lizard King’), Jimi Hendrix o Kurt Cobain.
Sus integrantes Christina Booth, Chris Fry y Reed están acompañados del batería Andy Edwards de IQ y Frost*.
"Han pasado cinco años en crear este disco y he tratado de tomar los mejores elementos de todos los álbumes anteriores para elaborar la mejor colección de canciones que puedo hacer, y creo que esto se ha logrado, y es un regreso a nuestras raíces de rock progresivo. Sólo unas pocas personas han escuchado el álbum hasta el momento, pero todos están de acuerdo que este es el mejor álbum de Magenta hasta la fecha", esas son palabras de Rob Reed, y creo que están bastante en lo cierto.
"The Twenty Seven Club" trata sobre un grupo de músicos o cantantes que han muerto a la edad de 27 años, muchos de los cuales murieron a causa de abuso de alcohol o drogas. Y cada uno de los temas representa a uno de esos músicos. La música tiene la intención de reflejar las personalidades de cada músico y su contribución a la música, y se hace evidente que la banda quería rendirles un homenaje, cada canción fue cuidadosamente elaborada para revelar algunas de las facetas ocultas de los seis músicos, lo que resulta en esquemas totalmente diferentes pero cada una con el sonido característico de la banda.
De esa forma tenemos un comienzo con un perfecto preludio a 12 minutos llamado "The Lizard King", un himno a la enigmática voz de The Doors: Jim Morrison y que es la canción que quizás mejor represente a este disco en su totalidad, con su fuerza arrolladora, su instrumentación abrasadora y sus matices cambiantes. Luego "Ladyland Blues" no representará la vida y los tiempos de Jimi Hendrix sonando como si Steve Howe representara de todo el drama de época. Mientras que "Pearl" es una hermosa balada bluesera reviviendo recuerdos de una tormentosa Janis Joplin, aquí Christina trae la máxima sensibilidad y emotividad a los que llega su voz. "Stoned" relata la vida de Brian Jones y comienza con un coro a capella antes que todo gire en torno a sonidos de un Yes adentrándose en nuevos territorios, con un riff inicial fantástico. "The Gift" comienza con una snfonía de cuerdas, hasta que la voz se eleva hacia para que la canción se desarrolle en la más dulce de las seis piezas y refleja la fragilidad de la psique de su protagonista (Kurt Cobain). "The Devil At The Crossroads" es otra de las pistas largas, una dramática epopeya relatando la vida de Robert Johnson, quien supuestamente hizo un trato con el diablo, mientras la canción presenta algunos de los arreglos más sublimes del disco, mientras la canción aumenta en atmósfera y crea el ambiente para cerrar un disco que raya en la perfección. El disco conmemora a los músicos con gran estilo y gracia, el trabajo de Chris Fry en las guitarras es impresionante, con el apoyo de sintetizadores de Rob Reed que crecen poco a poco, mientras aborda además las líneas del bajo de una forma magnífica y la voz de Christina Booth imprime su sello emocional, mientras Andy Edwards se luce en la batería.
Es conmovedor y apasionante escuchar los duelos entre Reed y Fry, como la guitarra, el bajo y los teclados tejen capas de sonidos sobre la voz jugando en un registro vocal pocas veces explorados, esos muchos cambios vocales, con su amplia gama puede pasar, de un momento a otro, de la suavidad y trino de Annie Haslam en algunas secuencias, al rugido del mar bravío en otras.
Cada una de las canciones son muy diferentes entre sí, pero en todas ellas los músicos nos muestran sus talentos y habilidades, mientras que la estructura permite que todo fluya y las atmósferas vayan desarrollando las emociones que los músicos nos quieren transmitir.
Un disco profundo, emotivo, inteligente e intenso, muy bien estructurado, con gran trabajo compositivo e instrumental y que esconde grandes melodías.
Vamos con algunos comentarios del disco (en inglés, somos los primeros que hacemos un comentario en castellano, ya vendrán otros...), y mis palabras finales para este gran disco:
Magenta surprised the prog world some 12 years ago with their stunning debut Revolutions, a double album full of excellent epics. And where many new acts fail to deliver a successor that matches the quality of such a debut album their second album, Seven, proved even more successful and is widely regarded as a 'must-have' album for all those who like complex yet very listenable prog. In this way Magenta established itself in a very short time as one of the best bands in the scene, winning awards and gaining much respect.Theo Verstrael
Personally, I like their third project best. Home (now a double album set with its accompanying 40-minute EP, New York Suite, but originally a single disc) is very melodic, quite mellow here and there but basically very varied and atmospheric. The angelic voice of Christina Booth proved to be one of the strongest assets Magenta had to offer and it also carries Metamorphosis, their fourth album, to great heights. This was a more complex album, darker, more technical in terms of the playing of the instruments but very enjoyable.
And then in 2011 there was Chameleon which brought a totally different approach; shorter songs, more up-tempo and straightforward. It seemed as if Magenta were aiming for hits instead of using their prime asset which lies in their intelligent, melodic yet complex and varied epics. The album did little for me, it really was a disappointment. If that was the direction that Magenta was about to take I feared that I would lose my interest.
But Chameleon seems to have been just another phase that principal song writer Rob Reed had to go through to get inspired again to write more prog stuff. And he has, both for his Kompendium project and now for this new Magenta album, The Twenty-Seven Club which takes its name from the theory surrounding the fact that many famous pop and rock heroes have died at that age. In half a dozen long songs images of six of these unfortunate artists are painted, ranging from Jim Morrison (The Lizard King) via Jimi Hendrix (Ladyland Blues), Janis Joplin (Pearl) and Brian Jones (Stoned) to Kurt Cobain (The Gift) and Robert Johnson (The Devil at the Crossroads). The music is meant to reflect their personalities and contribution and it becomes clear that the band really wanted to pay tribute to them. There is gorgeous, almost 'mean' guitar playing and riffing in Ladyland Blues and an occasional Mississippi blues acoustic guitar in The Devil at the Crossroads. The most obvious tribute, and therefore in my opinion the best song of the album, is Pearl, a beautiful bluesy ballad that almost sounds as if the band are standing in front of Joplin's grave reliving memories of her roaring life. The guitar solo by Chris Fry, Magenta's third core member, is absolutely stunning, supported by Reed's synths that grow slowly louder and louder, abruptly ending in an emotional, soft coda sung by Booth with only a piano in the background. Awesome!
The contrast with the very Yes-like Stoned could not be bigger. It is a really nice song but I could not make the reference to Brian Jones at all. The guitar work is very reminiscent of Steve Howe's work on Going for the One; that's meant as a compliment!
It is not an easy album to get into, the songs are quite complex with many different rhythms and time signatures and without the verse-chorus-verse recognition. It took me a couple of days to appreciate everything that is happening; the good thing is that it was never a problem to play the record again and again. It's tempting, it's original, it's complex and therefore there is much to discover and admire.
Rob Reed's production is great, all the instruments are in good balance while Christina's voice is clear but not too strong and voluminous, sounding very good in the mix, as do the background vocals by Reed and Booth. The drums by Andy Edwards (ex-IQ) deserve special attention; in the first three minutes of The Devil at the Crossroads for instance he has to change times signature almost a thousand times and does so perfectly. It's good to hear him again!
If this is the direction that Magenta is taking from now on then many beautiful things will emerge. Great album, highly recommended!!
The principality of Wales has proved to be fertile ground for prog bands, The Reasoning, Godsticks, Shadow of the Sun and three-fifths of Also Eden among the current thriving crop. However, under the direction and tutelage of Renaissance man Rob Reed, Magenta have been the trailblazers with their sublime, symphonic blend of prog, the highly acclaimed Seven being the pinnacle of their recording career, Metamorphosis and Chameleon perhaps not quite reaching its dizzy heights since.Alison Henderson
Having taken out a large slice of his recent life to compose, record, engineer and release the award-winning Kompendium project's Celtically-inspired Beneath The Waves, Reed has returned to his prog chops for The Twenty Seven Club, comprising six songs about legends whose lives ended at that Bermuda Triangle of an age for rock stars so prematurely taken before their time.
Not an easy subject to approach musically you would think, but Magenta are a class act and this album commemorates the six with great style and grace. Never are you left thinking that perhaps the subject is rather "off message" for the benefit of the record.
Instead, with lyrics by Reed's brother Steve, each song is carefully crafted to reveal some of the hidden facets of the six, resulting in completely different arrangements but each with the characteristic Magenta flourish. Coupled with that, Reed has really upped the ante yet again with the production which sounds flawless throughout.
He, guitarist Chris Fry and vocalist Christina Booth remain the band's nucleus (with Godsticks' rhythm section comprising Dan Nelson and Steve Roberts joining them for their excellent live shows), with Andy Edwards (Robert Plant, IQ and Frost*) filling the drum slot for the album.
Before delving in to find the musical nuggets of each song, mention must be made of Christina Booth, whose voice here takes on a new dimension in its sheer beauty and power, her contribution all the more special because she seems to have "met" each of the characters, found their spark and so makes the connection with each.
Fry again distinguishes himself as being one of Prog's most virtuosic guitarists, his wide repertoire of styles from acoustic to wah-wah a central feature throughout the album.
The Lizard King, a paean to the Doors' enigmatic frontman Jim Morrison, is the perfect curtain-raiser, 12 minutes of Prog heaven with a huge, urgent overture with Christina's voice swooping over it but Fry cuts in with staccato and wah wah guitar as Edwards pounds away furiously. It then takes on an almost waltz-like rhythm before Fry's acoustic guitar and Christina start telling the story, her voice hitting previously uncharted high notes. It is majestic, moving and enthralling as guitar and keyboards weave layer upon layer of sound underneath her voice.
Then halfway through, it changes tempo again, punctuated with handclaps marking out the rhythm which capture the restless, unpredictable nature of Morrison. I am not ashamed to say this track elicited a few tears on first few hearings because of its transcendental beauty.
Full speed ahead now to Ladyland Blues that contains a major Yes influence both musically and lyrically to depict the life and times of James Marshall Hendrix. Fry conjures up Steve Howe from around the Drama period and this mixes well with Reed's syths.
The next passage is pure Transatlantic, Fry's wah wah guitar coming to the fore duelling with Reed on both keyboards and bass. The song goes through many changes with multi-tracked voices led by Christina - who sounds very like Annie Haslam in the closing sequences. Count all those familiar prog motifs which appear throughout. They are all there but never sound contrived.
To channel the life of Janis Joplin, Christina brings a sensitivity and soulfulness to Pearl over a simple blues-tinged musical arrangement, a searing guitar solo from Fry being one of its finest moments. The lyrics have been carefully written so that Christina can tell Janis's story, a performer who gave everything of her tortured brilliant self in search of true love which always eluded her, and which, in the end, burned her out. It is one of the album's stand-out tracks. Prepare to be totally moved by it.
An a capella chorus begins Stoned before it spins into Yes territory again with multi-voices and Fry's upfront, fluid guitar. This song belongs to Brian Jones, the Rolling Stones' mercurial founder member, who lost control despite literally having everything - looks, money and talent. The song flows beautifully with an almost dance-time rhythm over which Reed embroiders the sound with his synths, Christina her ethereal chants and Fry, another totally masterful solo.
A symphony of strings starts The Gift, a gorgeous tribute to Kurt Cobain, the misunderstood grunge genius whose short life was punctuated by strife. Christina's voice soars skywards before the song opens up, changing tempo and pace with piano and acoustic guitar interspersed with violin. This is the gentlest of the six pieces and reflects the fragility of its subject's psyche.
Rounding off is the longest track The Devil At The Crossroads, a lustrous, dramatic, often dark journey along the path of the mysterious blues maestro Robert Johnson who allegedly made a deal with the devil during his short life. Again, Fry takes it all to another level with some sublimely brilliant flourishes, later delivering a truly memorable solo riff which will wrap itself around your subconscious and linger there indefinitely. Then the tempo picks up and gallops along before it rearranges itself to allow Fry to come back in with that soloing which morphs into delicious slide guitar.
What we have here is Magenta finally reaching the height of their powers in the most spectacular fashion; the songs, the performances, the whole vibe the album delivers being nothing short of perfection. The only slight criticism would be that it is all so beautifully produced that it teeters slightly on the edge of clinical. But this is one of the albums of the year without any doubt and again, it demonstrates in what great place prog now is, especially at the more symphonic end.
I remember some years ago (almost a decade as a matter of fact) the first time I heard Seven from Magenta and I have to say that I didn't like it too much. The second time was when I heard Metamorphosis and the way that the band had become darker at that time made me like them even less. But time passes and my opinion changed; by the third time I caught up with Magenta the work done by Rob Reed and Christina Booth through the years and their undeniable talent changed my mind and now I'll take the risk of writing my first review for them. Another fact, and a big surprise for me, is that Reed is the man behind Kompendium and this is another reason for me to take a look at this album.Guillermo Palladino
Rob Reed says on Magenta's website:-
"The new album has been five years in the making and I have tried to take the best elements of all the previous Magenta albums to craft the best collection of songs I could and I think this has been achieved and is a return to our progressive rock roots."
And that's true, as overall I feel that this album is very strong and beautifully composed. This is the kind of Progressive Rock I like to listen to and in this I feel that the band are paying homage to some of their influences over the years like Yes, Genesis and Mike Oldfield amongst others. Lovely Christina Booth's voice has a wide range and from time to time she can move from powerful to soft in just one moment. Rob Reed's skills on the keyboards made are very versatile while Chris Fry demonstrates a huge influence by Steve Howe in his guitar technique and former IQ drummer Andy Edwards completes the line-up after the excellent work he did on IQ's Frequency in 2009.
The Lizard King is the opening track and the first single from The Twenty Seven Club, a wonderful song with a great intro that reminded me of some kind of ancient song with Christina's voice in the background combining with some Yes-influenced arrangements. The lyrics are beautiful and the single edit, as shown above, doesn't offer the real essence of the track. The second section has a gypsy-folk rhythm with a cadence marked by Christina's clapping and the keyboard arrangements by Reed are awesome, the whole song showing how the band is now so blended.
Ladyland Blues starts with a Mellotron sound that takes us into a Crimson-esque song but it again shows that Yes are the main influence on this record, the Howe-like guitar arrangements are upfront most of the time combining with a chorus marked by the sound of tubular bells. Some passages are influenced by bands like Frost* and IQ, both of which Edwards has been part of, and the choruses again sound like the ones made by Anderson and Squire in the '70s. I like the way this track was composed as it has many changes during its running time, the final passage suggesting the cadence of Los Endos. So many elements and influences mixed perfectly into one song!
Pearl is another song that the band have premiered on their website, more relaxed starting with an electric piano marking the melody resulting in a semi-acoustic ballad played with great feeling and with a guitar solo with a David Gilmour influence. Very beautiful and Pink Floyd like.
Stoned again takes us to the era of early Yes, the guitar arrangements and choruses, while the initial riff is fantastic. This is a quite awesome homage to their musical roots and I have to say that perhaps this is the way that I wished Yes would actually sound. Very nice percussion in the background acts as a companion to introduce us to a lovely melody, the kind of song that cheers you up. Reed's neo-progressive keyboard sound also returns in this great song.
Now we have some string arrangements that mark the beginning of The Gift, the shortest song of this album and one that goes through a crescendo to deliver us into a piece with orchestral arrangements and a beautiful melody combined with some acoustic passages. Perhaps the thinnest song on the album.
When you hear The Devil at the Crossroads its initial arrangements are evidence that a more epic song is beginning, the grand finale for the album with Yes and Glass Hammer coming to mind throughout the whole song, combined with percussion and an organ in the background. From time to time the song switches into more relaxed passages with very evocative sounds from the guitar in the choruses. A very nice guitar solo marks the final passage of the song which is one that keeps you begging for more...
To conclude this review I have to agree with Rob Reed's words: "Six Progressive Rock epics...A return to our Progressive Rock roots". It is a very hard job to try and include all the things you want to do in six long tracks but on this occasion the band have done it very well, offering us a wonderful album. If this is the musical path the band will take from now on I have to say that I’ll be waiting for their next release impatiently. Thank you for making me change my mind guys.
To our kindly readers: What are you waiting for?
From the very start of opening track The Lizard King it is obvious that The Twenty Seven Club is going to be an entirely different kettle of fish from 2011's Chameleon.Jez Rowden
For me it is quite a relief to hear that this is, indeed, the return to more epic and progressive fayre as that has always been what Magenta do best; crafting music with depth, emotion and intensity that remains accessible by virtue of retaining a focus on the importance of melody. I've always said that this band should be huge beyond the prog community as the songs and performances are always superb but for now they remain our little secret and in The Twenty Seven Club they have produced an album to savour.
Anyone to whom this band has ever appealed previously surely can't help but be bowled over by this fantastic piece of work. Magenta have certainly developed their own sound over the years and the core trio work damn hard on this album, ably supported by ex-IQ drummer Andy Edwards who adds considerably, the band benefitting from what turns out to be the best performance they've had behind the kit on any album. Chris Fry's dextrous, fluid lead lines and note perfect soloing continue to underline his position in the upper branches of the family tree of modern prog guitarists while Christina is just Christina; in imperious form here, powerful when called upon, delicate elsewhere, always wringing the emotion out of the songs. As always though, the heart of the album is Rob Reed whose easy talent at structuring an accessible epic and effortless keys are what holds all of this together, his playing superb in both widescreen orchestral mode and soloing. He also adds some nifty bass to The Twenty Seven Club.
And so to the songs, The Lizard King immediately jumping out as an early favourite, a strident 12 minute rollercoaster of a track starting in almost prog metal vein with classy Eastern sections before settling into some trademark orchestral keys and a mellow acoustic verse as Christina Booth takes centre stage. She reaches some exhilarating peaks and Reed turns in some Flower Kings keys along the way; a fantastic start. Andy Edwards' drums are vibrant with a particularly well realised live sound that drives everything along very nicely. In fact the album is a wonderfully recorded beast that sounds truly stunning and I regard it as Reed's finest production yet; every instrument standing out in a crystal clear mix.
Next up is the, to start with, Yes infused Ladyland Blues, Chris Fry doing his best Steve Howe while Reed delivers some Genesis flourishes. As the track develops it moves away from these influences to some degree through a number of changes of mood from awesome bold passages, stripped back introspection, soloing and choral sections. Reed deploys the Hammond to good effect in a very loose jamming session with Fry and Edwards and then they are off somewhere new. Despite the changes of mood and pace the track never sounds forced and uses its full length to great effect - they pack a hell of a lot into it and none of it is less than fantastic. It took me several listens but ultimately this is a lovely piece that'll make your head spin, the references coming and going but they are so well rendered as to make comparison unnecessary and pointless. The band wear their influences on their sleeves sometimes but it really doesn't matter as the whole is purely Magenta.
The mood changes to the glittering heart of the album that is Pearl, a wonderfully languid and smooth piece, mature and well paced with hints of Pink Floyd. Starting simply with electric piano and voice, soon organ, drums and guitar are added, filling out the sound but not detracting from the delicate nature of the song. A 'song' this certainly is and one that I could listen to every day, truly beautiful with one of the best performances Booth has ever given; bluesy, soulful and from the heart. If you think this is good check out the live in the studio voice and keys version in the video above - spellbinding. To cap it all, the studio version also contains a couple of Fry's best and most complete solos making Pearl the first track on The Twenty Seven Club to really grab me completely. It certainly has the 'Wow!' factor and a wonderful sense of its subject and this is the Magenta song to play to people who don't get prog.
Lyrically I haven't had a chance to really penetrate the concept, although you can sense much of what they are trying to achieve from the music alone, but on Pearl it all makes perfect sense and underlines the quality of the realisation that has gone into this album. After his absence from Chameleon, regular lyricist Steve Reed has once again provided some wonderful words for Christina to deliver.
Stoned took me a bit of time to get into despite the familiar Yes influences in the guitar and choral vocals but it eventually revealed itself. Wonderfully upbeat, it starts with a hard edge before opening out into a sunny and soaring piece. Fry goes through a number of pages of the Steve Howe Book of Guitar but, again, this isn't plagiarism in any way, just excellent use of some fantastic technique and he varies it up to great effect. The backing vocals here are also worthy of note, Reed and Fry doing well in the supporting role. In fact the vocals are the key feature of this track which has some superb passages but possibly not as many awesome peaks as the tracks that surround it. That said it is in no way duff and fully deserves it's place.
The lengthier tracks work really well within Magenta's vision, fully displaying their talents and skills, but the shortest piece here, The Gift, also shows a delicate variety and another facet of the band in an emotion packed piece, the various layers coming together to reveal a beautiful whole. Orchestration is the key to this one, strings, piano and twinkling bells supporting another great performance from Booth. The music ebbs and flows, Reed knowing exactly what it needs to do to gain the maximum effect and in Magenta he has the band to make that happen.
Last but not least is another breathtaking piece of work that reveals itself if you give it some time and your full attention. The Devil at the Crossroads builds beautifully through its phases, ramping up the tension as Christina delivers another stunning vocal. The peaks are many including another of Fry's finest solos followed up with some bluesy acoustic slide. This is effortless stuff that fully justifies its running time, the changes in feel, tempo and key working beautifully.
Each of the songs here are very different and, despite the subject matter, this is a particularly positive album reminiscent in many ways of their early material. The dense and bleak vistas of Metamorphosis have been replaced by an airy and open quality with the positive elements of Chameleon fully integrated into their proggier side. It's an easy listen, and that is not a complaint. I simply mean that the music flows nicely allowing the intricacies to reveal themselves and get under your skin without the need to wrestle with it or beat your head against it. This is a delicious fruity sundae of an album rather than a coconut that needs cracking open.
It has become a cliché but - and I'm about to have a rant and sound my age here - kids today just don't know what they're missing with their iPhones, iPods and other mobile music delivery systems. Useful though they can certainly be the tinny speakers and earphones do nobody any favours. Music has become a commodity not an art form for most people and this is a crying shame. This album only properly came together when I heard it in full in the right setting; cranked up on the hi-fi and listened to in all its glory at home with time to properly immerse myself in it rather than simply struggling to get through more than a couple of tracks in the car on the commute to and from work. In that setting it makes perfect sense and is, as it should be, purely designed for sitting comfortably and absorbing, preferably with a quality tipple in your hand. Go on, buy your kids a decent stereo system and throw their iPods in the bin. They'll thank you for it. Eventually...
Magenta are back and also back to their true sound. Their music has developed further and the depth has returned and been extrapolated beyond anything they have achieved before. Wonderful performances on quality material that bears repeated listens. No complaints from me!
Is this one of the best albums to ever come out of Wales? Byddwn yn rhoi arian arno!
It makes this Welshman all proud and everything...
Si esta es la dirección que tomará Magenta partir de ahora, entonces muchos discos geniales surgirán. Creo que está demás decirles que este es un gran disco, y que es absolutamente recomendable. Magenta llega a su máximo nivel de la forma más espectacular: las canciones, las performances instrumentales, el clima emocional, el ambiente al que llegan en este álbum roza la perfección.
Cuando puedan, háganse con el disco, ni lo duden, y escúchendo varias veces antes de emitir opinión.
¿Será EL DISCO del 2013?, ese que el Conejo venía reclamando???... Yo no quiero conjeturar nada, pero más que eso, este es un retorno a las raíces no solamente de Magenta como banda sino también a las raíces del rock progresivo, porque aunque su sonido sea muy actual, está presente el espíritu de las mejores experiencias que ha dado este género. Escuchenlo y decidan ustedes mismos.
¡Pero nunca repitan que esto es neo-progresivo!!!