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(42 min, 'Indie')
TRACK LIST: 1. Bells for 1827 7:24 2. Binary World 5:55 3. Fractured 4:38 4. Pretending 4:33 5. Media Ride 3:38 6. Paradise of Stone 9:09 7. Violent Moods 6:58 LINEUP: Mike Florio - keyboards; vocals Bill Thomas - guitars Dave Bailey - bass Steve Golden - drums
Prolusion. Mike FLORIO is a singing keyboardist from the American state of New York, who has been composing music since the early '90s, yet didn't get the opportunity to realize his dream of releasing an album of his own songs for many years. Finally Mike's first brainchild, "Arisen", is available, and those interested can order it online from CD-Baby.
Analysis. Quite many new bands make their choice in favor of sophisticated progressive music, but not all of them are really prepared to do what they want to, having certain problems in writing the corresponding material and when performing it as well. The stuff under review isn't overly complex (and is sometimes instantly accessible), but is tastefully composed, carefully arranged and truly professionally executed. Generally, many would envy the coherency of joint actions that Mike Florio and his colleagues have achieved already on their first recording, although not everything went off smoothly in the department of originality. All seven of the tracks present contain lyrics, which are fully meaningful, on various topical themes, and are delivered with a deliberate passion. Mike is a comprehensively gifted musician, but his singing at times reminds me rather strongly of Steve Walsh's, particularly in the songs that are inspired by Kansas in general. These are Binary World, Media Ride and Paradise of Stone. The former two are a kind of symphonic hard-rockers much in the style typical of Kansas's "Power", while the latter is somewhat closer to the earlier, classic works of the American legend; at least it comes with much more keyboard-laden arrangements. In both progressiveness and beauty Pretending is quite comparable with the songs from Camel's "Stationary Traveler", combining a ballad-like approach in the vocal-based arrangements with the efficient variety of soloing parts in the instrumental sections. Along with those located at the album's poles Fractured is one of the most compelling tracks here, at least from a classic progressive standpoint. This is a suite miniature (as a Frenchman would say) and is indeed fractured in construction, but only in a figurative sense. While differentiating between themselves on the stylistically structural level, the piece's several sections are just one cohesive whole in its overall appearance, which combines both vintage and modern manifestations of symphonic Art-Rock, some Classical-like movements and intelligent Hard Rock. This time around Mike has frequent recourse to the sounds of clavier, though of course it's primarily due to the specific compositional approach that much of this track brings a distinctive Baroque sense. Bells for 1827 and Violent Moods are also full-blooded Prog, though this time out the music is even more strongly classically influenced. Both are notable for grandiose orchestral arrangements and are generally more diverse, especially the former, which is the only track here whose purely instrumental manoeuvres don't contain any repetitions.
Conclusion. "Arisen" is more than a merely solid debut effort and is a satisfying album in general, featuring plenty of memorable tunes. The only shortcoming I find here is that the primary soloing instruments, keyboards (mainly organ and piano) and electric guitar, much more often alternate with each other at the fore, rather than come into direct interaction. Nevertheless, most of the music is so tasty and charming that I can easily overlook this and the other few flaws. Recommended.
VM: April 7, 2006
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