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(63 min, Rock Symphony & Musea)
TRACK LIST: 1. Eyes of Time 14:11 2. Daybreak Child 8:54 3. True Love 5:16 4. Land of Dreams 10:01 5. Cosmos Touch 7:29 6. Everyway 8:37 7. Natureza Mistica 8:48 LINEUP: Sergio Paolucci - keyboards Luciano Soares - guitars Carlos Linhares - bass & acoustic guitar Nelson Rosa - drums Tania Braz - vocals
Prolusion. Here is the reissue of the eponymous debut CD by ARION from Brazil. The album's initial edition dates back to 2001, the CD being rather quickly sold out within the band's homeland.
Analysis. After comparing the number of tracks present (seven) with the CD's total playing time (which exceeds 63 minutes) prior to listening to the album, I thought it should be striking for large-scaled instrumental arrangements. Time has cleared all those things up, and my presupposition turned out to be correct, though not in all cases. The sound ranges from classic symphonic Art-Rock to the style's lighter modern manifestation, which isn't exactly Neo, though, either, as Arion does not have problems with originality. The multi-sectional 14-minute Eyes of Time opens the set and is the best, its first half being filled with the most intricate and compelling arrangements to be ever found on the album, with the endlessly changing picture and plenty of blistering solos from each of the instrumentalists. Some organ and piano-driven themes resemble Rick Wakeman's "Six Wives" or "King Arthur" a bit, but I believe it's because the keyboardist, Sergio Paolucci, and Mr. Wakeman have similar preferences in Classical music. Tania Braz's vocals arrive right after the piano interlude to remain at the center of events for the next few minutes. Her contralto adds a lot of warmth and originality to the music, but whether purposefully or not, the band is rarely adventurous in the vocal-based sections (which is certainly not Tania's fault). Thankfully, Eyes of Time is a suite in a true sense of the concept, with no repetitions of the once performed section. Cosmos Touch, taking the fifth position, is a kindred composition and is progressively nearly on par with that, but the two that immediately follow the epic, Daybreak Child and True Love, are vocal-heavy, and I've already mentioned what this matter usually implies. These are by no means bad songs, but they just aren't as diverse, sliding between Art-Rock and the strongly classically influenced New Age music. Besides, the variety of basic themes everywhere on the album displays that there is always a proper ground for diverse instrumental maneuvers. But it seems like the band at times lacks brevity to do such, as if fearing to destroy Tania's singing, although her vocals don't seem to be fragile at all. Everyway and Land of Dreams are musically something average between the first two tracks, combining cerebral and accessible moments, the latter introducing the wide use of acoustic guitar, which has found its continuation on the final opus. Natureza Mistica is another very good song, a combination of intense Art-Rock with elements of opera and some ethnic flavors. Apart from those of Tania, there are uncredited male vocals, the partners singing mainly in chorus. Tania's English is noticeably accented, but her singing as such is very beautiful. (Well, I myself speak with a heavy Slavic accent, but having a listening experience of many years, I immediately recognize even the smallest bits of accent.)
Conclusion. Arion is a band of talented and quite inventive musicians, though I think their hour of triumph is yet to come. All in all, they have a truly decent debut outing, whose virtues aren't limited by originality. At least those into the mellower side of symphonic Art Rock will find plenty here to be pleased about.
VM: November 5, 2005
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