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Tracklist: 1. Faith In Art 6:51 2. Satellite 5:57 3. Sportscar 4:54 (inst.) 4. Soulful Experience 5:45 5. Survive 5:57 6. Oceans of the Mind 4:44 7. World of Love 6:01 8. Those Days are Gone 3:52 All tracks: by Mario Millo. Produced: by Mario Millo. Line-up: Mario Millo - electric & acoustic guitars, mandolins; lead vocals; Hammond organ Jeff Camilleri - bass guitar; backing vocals Robbie Siracusa - drums & percussion Guest musicians: David Hirschfelder - Nord synthesizer Dave Wilkins - backing vocals (on tracks 2, 5, & 7) Jess Millo - backing vocals (on 1, 6, & 8) Plus: The Violin Quartet, The Violoncello Duo, & The Maiden Choir.
Prologue. Mario Millo was the former leader and one of the main masterminds of well-known Australian bands, Sebastian Hardie and Windchase. His solo career, however, begun with the release of the album "Epic III" way back in 1979. Unfortunately, until now, I was acquainted only with Windchase's album "Simphinity".
The Album. First, it needs to be said that the distinctly original stylistics of Mario Millo's compositions is on the whole the same as it was on the "Simphinity" album by Windchase, which was released in 1977. I always appreciate such examples of creative stability. All tracks that are featured on the "Oceans of the Mind" album were employed in a unified stylistic concept, the general definition of which would be a blend of Classic Symphonic Progressive and (simply) Symphonic Rock. However, most of these tracks are different among themselves by various parameters. The songs, Faith In Art, Soulful Experience, and Those Days are Gone (tracks 1, 4, & 8), but especially the first two of them, are real masterpieces and the best tracks on the album as well (which is logical, though). The vocal and instrumental parts are balanced well in all of them. Instrumental arrangements consist mostly of various, tasteful and virtuosi, solos and riffs of electric guitar, beautiful passages of Hammond organ and a few violins, as well as diverse and, often, contrasting interplay between all of these soloing instruments. Soulful Experience contains, in addition, two excellent solos of synthesizer. The frequent changes of tone and mood are typical only for the first two of these three songs, though the last track on the album is the only song here that features a long instrumental part. All of the lead vocals, as well as the work of both of the 'chiefs' of the rhythm section, are excellent throughout the album. However, the main merit of these and all of the other songs on the album lies in a 'classical' approach to the general arrangements of the vocal parts. In short, the instrumental arrangements flow diversely and intensively throughout the album regardless whether Mario (or, sometimes, the maiden choir) sings or not. Which, for the most part, is typical only for the works of Classic Progressive. In that way, despite the fact that there are no the large-scaled instrumental parts on all of the other songs on the album, none of them will remind you of Neo. Satellite, Survive, and World of Love (tracks 2, 5, & 7) are nothing else but the Symphonic Art-Rock songs (without any prefixes). The last of them, by the way, is notable for wonderful passages of an acoustic guitar. Although these songs are for the most parts based on the vocals, the surrounding instrumental arrangements are so rich and diverse that they make the use of the prefix Neo with regard to them absolutely pointless. The album's title track (6) consists of structures that, on the whole, are heavier than those of all of the other tracks on the album. This is also the only track on the album where there are no violins. The best stylistic definition of it would probably be a quality Progressive Hard Rock song. Finally, Sportscar is the only instrumental piece on the album. Musically, it is rather diverse, though the lack of changes of tone and mood doesn't allow me to call it a Classic Art-Rock piece.
Summary. "Oceans of the Mind" is in many ways a unique album. It was constructed so effectively that its contents are able to amaze not only both of the Classic and Neo Prog-heads, but also the mainstream audience. I am not joking. Of course, the latter will never like those three progressive masterpieces that I was talking about in the first part of the review. However, the lushly orchestrated ballad Survive, as well as the Hard Rock song Oceans of the Mind, can, IMHO, become hits in Billboard's charts (yeah, like Dreamer and Gets Me Through from the latest album by Ozzy) - on condition that they will be properly promoted. While all we know that, accordingly to the ridiculous (yet existing!) rules of musical mainstream and its audience, the presence of at least only one hit-single on the album makes it a blockbuster (as a whole).
VM. April 9, 2002
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