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As I know, quite famous in the end of the 80s Italian progressive rock band Ezra Winston is currently preparing the material for their first CD. Looking at the promotional CD-R that I received from them, I understand why they decided to carry on with their musical career with a "new" CD, which originally was just a compilation from their two LPs "The Myth of the Chrysavides" (1988) and "Ancient Afternoon" (1990), including an unreleased track recorded in 1992. And that's OK - any lover of original and complex symphonic rock will understand it right after listening to this album. The only problem here is... that's why you'd better read the Summary to this review too.
1. The Birth and the First Flight (taken from 1988) begins with nice keyboard passages, but develops in a medieval symphonic key. Nice and gentle interplays between classical acoustic guitar and flute is followed all of a sudden by a fast theme with modern synthesizers and electric guitars. The arrangements are wonderful thanks to the tense interplays between electric guitar and synthesizers, though the overall sound isn't very comlex.
2. The Waiting and the Knowledge (taken from 1988) opens with unusual interplays between really modern synthesizer passages and gentle sounds of medieval flute. Then a fast dynamic symphonic theme with strong drumming and amazing synthesizer solos comes up, followed by a lead vocal theme along with adventurous bass lines, electric guitar solos and fluid synthesizer chords. Nearer to the end of the song gentle passages of flute add here a typical medieval mood.
3. The Painter and the King (taken from 1990) begins in the same medieval manner with the structures characteristic rather for a little chamber ensemble. After a few modern arrangements begins a vocal theme that again develops in the accompaniment of medieval interplays between classical acoustic guitar and flute. The third instrumental move (synthesizer only) just supports a melancholy singing (and I hear some beautiful female backing vocals), though already seconds later this theme turns into another by powerful instrumental arrangements with rich keyboards and lead and bass guitar solos. The medieval spirit is discernible again in the fourth theme, though its further development is characterized by traditional Classic (Symphonic) Art Rock arrangements with some nice guitar solos at the end.
4. Nightstorm (taken from 1990). Well, I am already familiar with the style of Ezra Winston. Constant changes of melancholic moods, showing medieval and modern themes and full of moderately complex original arrangements, quiet and after all rare singing - these are the ingredients for Ezra Winston to create their own musical face. Note: Nightstorm is the quietest composition on the album, though all the inherent structures remain the same.
5. Ancient Afternoon of an Unknown Town -finale- (taken from 1990). Begins with a gloomy singing in the background of active percussives and continues with exceptionally original electric guitar passages. In the next move powerful chords and arrangements from wind instruments prevail, the majority of which are no more than sample keyboards sounds. Strange "marshy" effects and gloomy, at times sinister singing appear again nearer to the end of the track, which concludes with interplays of several synthesizers, each of whose imitates varied wind instruments quite successfully.
6. Dark Angel Suite (unreleased from 1992). Opens with the solemn sounds of pseudo wind instruments, but a bit later falls into a territory full of rich, truly complex and original arrangements. Lots of interplays between varied instruments, changes of tempos in these arrangements - are just a prelude to the already familiar medieval structures. For the first time on this album I hear excellent non-accent polymorphous singing together with gentle organ and flute passages. The development of the following instrumental theme is absolutely incredible. Themes change each other very unexpectedly, though the overall mood is phylosophic and even dramatic. This album's longest instrumental painting continues with fast and virtuostic interplays between all instruments and completes with an excellent solemn jamming. Outstanding track that demonstrates that these Italian guys can work successfully with very complex Classic Symphonic Art Rock arrangements.
Summary. Not as smooth an album as I would like to see (to hear, sorry) it. As if these guys just show how they mastered the tricks of the trade of Progressive Rock musicians. From nice, quite accessible forms from the early years through more powerful and diverse arrangements dating from the middle of their musical career to the real Progressive, sometimes mind-blowing playing in 1992, when Ezra Winston was menaced in the first place by financial problems. So, if this promotional material is equal to that which we will hear on the band's upcoming CD, I cannot say this is the material which I've longed to hear. This is really a raw product, because it's necessary to mix all these various songs among themselves. This material needs the hand of a good producer. I sincerely hope the guys can find the right place for each song in the album, so in advance I'd rate this work as very good. However, if only Ezra Winston could re-arrange and re-play all the songs from 1988 and 1990 in the stylistics of Dark Angel Suite, I am almost sure we would hear one of the most interesting albums of the 90s.
VM. December 26, 1999
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