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Mystery (Canada) - 1996 - "Theatre of the Mind"
(47 min, "Unicorn")


*****+

Part I - The Reality:

Theatre of the Mind  6:04

Lonely Heart  4:30

Peace of Mind  4:49



Part II - The Dream:

Virtual Mentality  1:18

The Inner Journey I  3:39

Black Roses  8:02

Rhythmizomena  1:51

In My Dreams  5:08

Believe In Your Dreams  6:41

The Inner Journey II  4:34

All Lyrics by M. St-Pere. Music by M. St-Pere, except: 4 (by B. Dupuis), 7 (by S. Perreault & M. St-Pere) & 9 (by M. St-Pere, S. Perreault & S. Desharnais). Arrangements by Mystery. String arrangements by P. Leger. Recorded at "Studio Illusion II" & Gilles Peltier's Studio (Quebec, Canada). Engineered & mixed by M. St-Pere, G. Peltier & Serge Gangloff. Produced by M. St-Pere.

Line-up: Michel St-Pere - electric, acoustic & classical guitars, synthesizers; Gary Savoie - lead & backing vocals; Stephane Perreault - drums & percussion, synthsizers; Richard Addison - bass; Benoit Dupuis - keyboards; Michel Painchaud - classical & acoustic guitars.

Guest musicians: Sylvain Langlois - saxophones (tenor & sporano); Pierre Leger - flutes; Marie-Claude Masse - violin; Marie Lacasse - violin; Ahimsa Gilbert - cello.

Prologue. Well, it's time to pay attention to Mystery - the basic "Unicorn Records" band led by Michel St-Pere who is also the founder / owner of the label. While the label enjoys currently an almost unbelievable commercial success with all the staff bands' releases which, by the way, aren't commercial at all from the progressive point of view, I am now going to work backwards to review one of the first albums ever released on "Unicorn". Actually I don't know if I'll have a chance to write an overall view on Mystery's creation / discography, but one of the band's albums is already here.

The Album. "Theatre of the Mind" is the second Mystery album (and it just became obvious to me that Mystery's best is the third one called "Destiny?". In this respect you can read a detailed review on Mystery's compilation consisting of the tracks from all the three band's albums released in the 1990's. While thematically this is an album with two conceptual parts dealing with different states of mind, musically it can be (conditionally) divided into three parts, where each is quite distinct from both others. Firstly, there are four mellow Neo-prog songs on the album characterized mostly with acoustic guitar passages, gentle electric guitar solos, melodic keyboard lines, warm and heartfelt vocals and the soft work of the rhythm section. These songs are Lonely Heart, In My Dreams and both parts of The Inner Journey, though part two of the latter, being the album's closing track, has a grandiose finale marked with wonderful vocals and a very tasteful contrasting interplay between strong and diverse riffs of the electric guitar and delicate yet virtuosic "roulades" of the electric piano. Both other parts of the album's musical palette characterized with a powerful sound (of course), contrary to the mellow pieces. Both Theatre of the Mind and Piece of Mind from The Reality sound hard in full compliance with the savage world that they inhabit. Stylistically, these songs fully correspond to hard-edged Neo Progressive at its best. The world of The Dream, however (no of course!), is more enigmatic and intricate than The Reality. So the rest, the third part of musical palette of the album is really wonderful. Yes, "Theatre of the Mind" is a wonderful throughout, but Black Roses and Believe In Your Dreams (tracks 6 & 9 respectively) are real progressive masterpieces in the true sense of these words. They just brim over with diverse arrangements, changes of tempos and moods, time signatures, etc.

Summary. The most important thing, making this album so winning and variegated, is the producing of it. Three musically different parts of this album were intermixed the most proper way, so as a result we have all four mellow songs separated one from another, and every new musical picture is radically different from the previous one. (Yeah, there are also two instrumental pieces on the album, but they're too short to exert influence on the principal scheme according to which "Theatre of the Mind" was created.) If you like Saga, early Hogarth-era Marillion and Savatage's conceptual works you will love the second Mystery album to death. Like the best Neo-Prog-bands Mystery reflects its mentors, yet has enough uniqueness to call its own.

VM. May 4, 2001


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