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(62:27, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Masquerade 12:32 2. Chambermaid 8:53 3. Storming the Castle 5:29 4. Blue Rain 7:44 5. Frozen in Time 14:37 6. Summer's End 8:00 7. Dark Waters 5:12 LINEUP: David Minasian – keyboards; guitars, bass; drums; vocals Justin Minasian – guitars With: Nick Soto – guitars (2) Guy Pettet – drums (3, 5) Andrew Latimer – guitars; vocals (1)
Prolusion. US artist David MINASIAN has been around since the early ‘80s, until now probably better known as a video director and soundtrack composer. As a recording artist his output has been sparse, until 2010 limited to the solo effort "Tales of Heroes and Lovers" from 1984 and the collaborative production "It's Not Too Late" from 1996, featuring William Drews. 2010's "Random Acts of Beauty" is his second full-length solo production, and was issued by Progrock Records in the fall of 2010.
Analysis. When reading up on Minasian's biography, the band names Camel and The Moody Blues pop up at regular intervals. And with Camel maestro Andrew Latimer making a guest appearance on this effort to boot, it is probably somewhat predictable that the genre of choice on the album resides within the symphonic parts of the art rock universe, with an emphasis on rich, atmospheric excursions. I get the impression that most of the material has at least initially been written on the piano, as wandering and circulating piano motifs form the foundation on most themes explored. And while it is rarely allowed to dominate any sections, it is as good as ever present, the red thread and familiar element carrying the songs, so to speak. A variety of different tangents is added to this basic motif, with rich, majestic and at times majestic atmospheres created, with an emphasis on strong moods and distinct melodies, always and at all times harmonic. The organ and harpsichord represent the opposite sides of the scales as far as intensity goes, while an arsenal of digital strings are used throughout to craft the distinctly symphonic nature of the compositions. From mellow and almost pastoral themes, featuring piano, harpsichord and vocals only, to richly textured excursions that might as well have been performed by a classical symphonic orchestra, these pieces effortlessly explore a musical landscape with varied expressions, fluent development and a sensitive and effective utilization of subtle effects. The epic-length instrumental Frozen in Time is probably the most diverse of these numbers, where straightforward symphonic themes are blended in with more folk-oriented expressions as well as elongated passages closer to progressive metal in overall intensity. The rest of the album is more singular in scope, at times closer to the efforts of artists such as Vangelis than to the more challenging and adventurous oriented parts of the art rock universe. What might be regarded as a drawback by some is Minasian's choice of lead vocals, his dampened and slightly husky voice something of an acquired taste, but apart from that minor detail and some digital strings that at times sound, well, too digital, there's nothing at hand here that should inspire critical musings beyond the realms of whatever your personal musical taste dictates.
Conclusion. If you enjoy symphonic art rock of the variety that has a strong emphasis on richly layered, distinctly harmonic and highly melodic themes, "Random Acts of Beauty" should be a production that will be regarded as aptly named and a splendid example of this particular expression. While not among the most adventurous and challenging efforts of this year, it is most certainly a strong contender for the most beautiful production of 2010, and highly recommended to those who tend to have a soft spot for the melodic parts of the art rock universe, in particular dedicated fans of acts such as Camel and The Moody Blues.
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