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(60 min, 'Celestial')
TRACK LIST: 1. Zeitgeist 6:20 2. Black Flower 9:24 3. Off the Rails 8:18 4. Courage 3:08 5. To Be Alone 9:55 6. Riding the Brakes 4:32 7. In the Water 4:52 8. Stones of Beauty 4:29 9. Second Chance 4:33 10. Touch 4:48 LINEUP: Jose Damien - keyboards; bass, guitars Joe Acaba - lead & backing vocals Joe Nardulli - lead electric guitars Hector Lopez - drums
Prolusion. The roots of New York's CELESTIAL OEUVRE are in the distant seventies, tracing back to a short-lived band called Demian, a brainchild of Joe Acaba, Charlie DeJesus and Jose Damien. Having not had any opportunity to release their music at the time, the men soon went their separate ways. But after many years Joe and Jose have reunited to form Celestial Oeuvre and realize their old cherished dream to create a CD with the music they "had come to know and love". Hence the title of their first release: "Second Chance".
Analysis. Celestial Oeuvre's "Second Chance" sounds like Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Alan White have once again reunited with Trevor Rabin and Tony Kaye to create another album in the style that brought them into a megastar status back in 1983. I don't know how about you, dear readers, but personally I like the mid-period Yes better than the band's latest creation (although not as much as their earlier classic works of course), and since these American men aren't looking like poor imitators of their benefactors, but are in every respect on par with them, I am not able to change my attitude towards their "Second Chance", which is overall positive, despite the fact that I normally don't accept highly derivative music. The album combines the qualities typical of each studio recording from the Rabin-era Yes, namely "90125", "Big Generator" and "Talk", at times with the wider use of Yes's 'classic' features (for example such as those that the epic title track of "Talk" is striking for), the first two of the longer songs: Black Flower and Off the Rails being especially eloquent in this respect. Both reveal a fine balance between vocal and instrumental sections on the one hand and between heavier and more large-scaled symphonic arrangements on the other, though I must note the instrumental background is rather eventful on many tracks, based on the interplay between organ, guitar and bass solos. The first number, Zeitgeist, begins with distinctive, immediately recognizable 3-voice singing (backing vocals were overdubbed), which soon transforms into a driving, edgy Hard-&-Art with occasional symphonic tendencies, much in the same vein as any of the openers of said releases of Yes. Riding the Brakes, In the Water, Stones of Beauty and Second Chance, following one another right after the album's conditional equator, are in many ways similar to Zeitgeist, though the former song is always intense and heavy, while the others come, with some digressions, into the realm of symphonic Prog. The longest song To Be Alone, and also Touch, taking the last position, are mostly mellow piano-laden Art-Rock with a ballad-like approach, although the finale of the former finds the band probably at their most adventurous. Courage is a traditional ballad, featuring only multi-layered Yes-like choir singing and piano passages.
Conclusion. This band shamelessly uses the compositional, arrangement and performance aspects of Yes's mid-period creation, down to the smallest details recreating both the structure and atmosphere of the implied stuff. But their "Second Chance" sounds more like a challenge to their benefactors than a tribute to them. Much of the music is so bright and mesmerizing that I don't experience negative emotions when I hear it. Meanwhile any strong advocates of originality have been warned.
VM: March 7, 2006
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