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TRACK LIST: 1. Near Or Far 6:18 2. On to the Afterglow 8:29 3. Dreamer 6:15 4. Scary Monsters 4:33 5. Color of Your World 5:48 6. Mid Summer's Day 7:40 7. Manon 6:09 8. The Spider 5:16 LINEUP: Anton Roolaart – vocals; guitars; keyboards; programming Rave Tesar – organ, string ensemble, pianos Vincent Puryear – bass Rich Berends – drums (1, 3, 4, 7) Charles DesCarfino – drums (2, 5, 6, 8) With: Alice Hamlet – cello (8) Stephanie Malewski – vocals (2) Alana Roolaart – backing vocals (2)
Prolusion. “Dreamer” is the first musical output by Anton ROOLAART, who was previously known to me as the presenter of Prog-Rock Radio. Originally from the Netherlands, Anton's family moved to the States when he was a child, and he has been residing there now for many years. You'll notice one of the five primary musicians behind this recording is Mastermind’s drummer Rich Berends, who plays on all the odd-numbered tracks.
Analysis. Yet another one in a long series of vintage rock- and prog-stylized recordings I’ve received this and last year. Unlike most if not all the others however, this one is tough to review, partly because it shows some very good qualities and some below average ones as well. Anton is much more skilled as a player than as a singer, so I’d have been happier if he, figuratively speaking, had paid more attention to his instruments. Although none of the disc’s eight tracks are constructed as straight songs, the vocals play a significant role on most of them, most especially on Near Or Far, Color of Your World and The Spider. The first two of these both would’ve been decent symphonic art-rock creations if their (originally unpretentious) vocal lines hadn’t been repeated several times with no alterations to them in all cases. The latter song is slow-paced and reflective throughout, generally representing a few light variations on the same, basically unvarying musical storyline. Unlike the concluding track, both the preceding ones, Mid-Summer's Day and Manon, are largely instrumental and are abundant in moves that contrast each other in a variety of angles. While listening to these I often feel their greatness is just around here, but since the moments of clarity can at every moment be replaced with a kind of mishmash, each overall comes across as being thematically oversaturated, reminding me of a set of musical vignettes that change each other too frequently, and what’s more to the point, too spontaneously to create a fully coherent picture. The best compositions on the disc would be the three that follow its opener, namely On to the Afterglow, Dreamer and Scary Monsters. The first and the last of these are good in all senses, both standing out for their subtle instrumentation, while the former additionally reveals some excellent acoustic guitar leads in the Flamenco style. The only problem I have with the title piece Dreamer is its refrain, directly linked with its title: it’s excessively repetitive and trivial alike. As a guitarist Anton often recalls Steve Howe or David Gilmour, during the more intense and laidback arrangements respectively, while his keyboard style reminds me of a cross between Rick Wakeman and Detlev Smidtchen. From which it logically arises that the most noticeable influences on the recording are Yes, Pink Floyd and Eloy, though all the tracks without exception have to a greater or lesser degree a space-rock feeling, regardless of their basic style.
Conclusion. The sound of “Dreamer” is well-balanced and pristine (Anton is a professional sound engineer); the performance is fairly fine, quite a few of the compositional designs being remarkable. So it is mainly in its arrangement department where this recording has a demo quality. Success doesn’t seem to be far off, however, and Roolaart may achieve it even with his next musical adventure – if he shapes his ideas before starting on it.
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