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Elegant Simplicity - 2004 - "Aquatorium"
TRACK LIST: 1. A Crack in the Ice 3:01 2. Whenever I Close My Eyes 10:18 3. It's Only Water 5:28 4. Mood 3:18 5. It Hurts So Much 6:28 6. Take Me to the River 3:31 7. My One Great Love 4:10 8. Ilmarinen's Bride of Gold 5:34 9. These Three Words Again 5:17 10. Inside the Dome 5:00 11. Changing Views 5:29 12. Solar Mass Music 19:49 All tracks: by McCabe. Produced & engineered by McCabe. LINE-UP: Steven McCabe - guitars & bass; keyboards; programming Ken Senior - vocals Christopher Knight - drums With: Peter Douglas - drums (on 2 & 3) Joseph Dawson - violins (1) Laurence Harrington - vocals (6)
Prolusion. I am well acquainted with the creation of ELEGANT SIMPLICITY, the UK band, which I find one of the brightest representatives of Albion's contemporary progressive scene. I've heard and reviewed all eight of their latest 'full-fledged' albums, starting with "The Nature of Change" of 1996 and finishing with 2004's "Anhedonia". Here is the band's first collection of unreleased tracks, "Aquatorium".
Analysis. I really wonder why this album was issued as a limited edition "fan club" CD-R, and not officially, on CD, like the same "Anhedonia". None of the tracks included here was available before, including Whenever I Close My Eyes, as "Reversal of Time" (1997) features only its shortened version, which, moreover, is half the length of the original. What's most important, however, is the high quality of the materials presented. The 77-minute "Aquatorium" looks much like a concept album, as if all the songs and instrumental compositions were created especially for it and were carefully selected from the others recorded during the same studio sessions. The other major value of this 'perforce outcast' is that most of the tracks here have a real, lively and vivid, full-band sound, and it's enough to look at the lineup above to understand why. The band is really tight, and each musician is a true crackerjack. Apart from two ballads, both of which, though, are so clever and tasty that they're just wonderful, at least in their own way, the music is a thoughtful, highly intriguing symphonic Art-Rock with lots of memorable themes and just everything necessary to be a true piece of art. It's difficult to choose the best composition from this set, and even the atmospheric epic (pun intended) Solar Mass Music can be considered only a minor highlight. To my taste, "Aquatorium" is on par with most of Elegant Simplicity's official output (better than some of them) and is inferior only to the "Architect of Light".
Conclusion. What can I add here? It's a pity that the album, which portrays the band in the most favorable light, is unavailable to the general progressive audience.
VM: December 14, 2004
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