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Tracklist: 1. Ballet 9:19 2. Mirror Mask 6:23 3. Nameless-1 (inst.) 1:35 4. Lost Years 6:07 5. Eighteen (inst.) 5:47 6. Mother of Existence 5:51 7. Nameless-2 (inst.) 1:08 8. Whispering Forest 6:43 9. Nameless-3 (inst.) 0:47 10. Dream 9:49 11. Nameless-4 (inst.) 3:05 All music written, arranged & produced by Kvazar. Lyrics by: R. Johansen (4, 8, & 10), A. Jensen (1 & 6), K. A. Liberknecht (2). Line-up: Andre Jensen - vocals, piano, acoustic guitar Endre Tonesen - bass, vocals Kim A. Liberknecht - drums & percussion, synthesizer Ronny Johansen - keyboards & organ Alexander Krosmoen - electric & acoustic guitars With: Camilla Erlansen - cello Recorded & mixed by Knut Walle, Lars C. Holt & Kvazar at "Endless" & "Barn" studios, Norway.
Prologue. In comparison to Sweden, other Scandinavian countries, namely Norway, Finland and Denmark, aren't too rich in Progressive Rock talents, at least in long-lived ones. White Willow and Kerrs Pink are probably the only examples of the latter with regard to Norway. While here we have a new Norwegian band and their debut album, which was released by Musea in the end of 2001.
The Album. Regarding any debut works in general, first of all, in my view, it is necessary to know about the principal characteristics of the ProGduction. While generally the music of Kvazar is typical for Scandinavian Classic Symphonic Art-Rock, on the whole it is rather original and doesn't contain traces of any direct influences. Overall, the album was created within the framework of a unified stylistics with the predomination of a rather dramatic (not dark yet) feel, both in the vocal and instrumental arrangements. After I listened to the first two tracks, I was slightly disappointed. Both Ballet and Mirror Mask are, on the whole, good songs where the instrumental arrangements work constantly, i.e. behind the vocals as well. However, the repetitions of a few of the same vocal and instrumental parts there make these songs too accessible to regard them the full-fledged Classic Symphonic Art-Rock compositions. Fortunately, all of the following songs on the album, as well as the large-scaled instrumental piece Eighteen, turned out to be excellent examples of the Classic 'side' of the genre. Lost Years, Eighteen, Mother of Existence, Whispering Forest, Dream, and Nameless-4 (tracks 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, & 11): all of these compositions contain complex, tasteful, and highly diverse arrangements that are filled with frequent changes of tone and mood, etc. In the songs, the vocal duo of Andre Jensen (baritone) and Endre Tonesen (tenor) is more prevalent than Jensen's solo singing, and their English pronunciation is OK. (Which, by the way, is typical for Scandinavian performers of any musical genres). As for the instrumental arrangements, for the most part they are featured by the joint performance of all of the band members. Solos and passages of the piano, synthesizer, and organ are however, more diverse and virtuosi than solos of electric guitar, which are mostly fluid. On the other hand, the interplay between solos of an electric guitar and various keyboards, all of which are performed in different tempos, create the effective contrasts and make most of the arrangements on the album very intriguing. Ballet, Lost Years, Nameless-2, Whispering Forest, and Dreams (tracks 1, 4, 7, 8, & 10), contain some excellent cello passages by Camilla Erlanssen, as well as interplay between them and solos of other instruments. Especially impressive are the crossing passages of a cello, acoustic guitar, and synthesizer on both of the last songs on the album (tracks 8 & 10). Three songs on the album: Eighteen, Mother of Existence, and Whispering Forest, contain a few of the rather heavy episodes, created by riffs of electric and bass guitars and the powerful drumming. The work of the rhythm section is excellent from the first to the last note of the album (excluding those tracks that aren't featured by these instruments). Both of the remaining instrumentals (Nameless 1 & 3) are just short musical (Art-Rock-y, to be precise) sketches, consisting mostly of rhythms of an acoustic guitar and spacey effects of a synthesizer.
Summary. "Kvazar" by a musical supernova is a very promising debut, to say the least. However, I'd like to mention that Eighteen, Mother of Existence, Whispering Forest, and Dream (tracks 5, 6, 8, & 10) I regard as the real masterworks of Classic Symphonic Progressive, which are in many ways close to the best examples of the genre in the 1970s. It would be sad indeed, if the band didn't continue their activity in the new millennium. If you're wondering why I say so, I'll explain it to you (secretly). Just now, I've learned that this album was completed in the middle of 1999. Anyway, it comes highly recommended to all of the music lovers who 'live' in the camp of the Classic Symphonic Progressive.
VM. February 13, 2002
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