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North Star (USA) - 2000 - "Tempest"
(58 min, 'Space Monster')



1. Tempest 6:54 (K. & G. Leonard)

2. Yes I Know 5:02 (D. Johnson)

3. Bathroom By the Bongos 6:23 (=)

4. Prelude In C 2:38 (J. S. Bach)

5. Opus V 6:00 (G. Leonard)

6. Raudra 9:09 (Newman)

7. Getting Gigue Wit It 3:21 (J. S. Bach)

8. Plastic Bombastic (D. Johnson)

9. Goodbye Mom 6:09 (=)

10. Colossus 4:43 (K. Leonard)


Dave Johnson - electric, acoustic, & bass guitars

Glenn Leonard - drums & percussion;

                keyboards (on tracks 4 & 5)

Kevin Leonard - keyboards; bass (on 1 & 3)

Joe Newnam - sitar 

All tracks arranged & produced by North Star.

Recorded & mixed by North Star

at "Space Monster" studios.

Prologue. There is just music on this album. Music is an energetically informational substance, which doesn't possess of any of the three-dimensional characteristics of our dual world. (Such as the body, form, weight, quantity, borders, etc, etc.) Music can be hard in the complete absence of the solidity. The concept of the statics is also inapplicable for music, which, in fact, is nothing else but the kind of perpetual motion. Unlike all of the static arts music is absolutely free of hypocrisy. To be precise, music is the only Art, which is free of hypocrisy. Being devoid of any concrete symbols, unlike all of the Earthly arts in general, it, however, brings to the listener a marvelously wide specter of emotions, most of which (if not all) have positive qualities. Certainly, speaking about all of this, I mean 'clean' music or, in other words, instrumental music. As I've mentioned above, this kind of music is featured on the fourth North Star album "Tempest". (See the band's discography below.)

The Album. To be honest, I haven't heard a real, pure Classic Symphonic Art-Rock already for quite some time. "And here you are!" - I've thought. Which happened just after I've heard the final notes of "Tempest". However, being the work of Classic Symphonic Progressive, this "music for tempest and ensemble" is rather original and you won't find here any distinct traces of influences. While all compositions that are featured on the album are excellent, two of them sound way different from the others. These are Prelude In C (track 4) and Raudra (track 6). The first of them, consisting of interplay between two different keyboard solos, is (not symphonic, but) the minimalist interpretation of one of the pieces by the very first Progressive Rock composer and musician of Earth. Although Sitar is the only instrument, which sounds on Raudra, an overall musical palette of this piece is very rich. Composed by a 5-tone scale (i.e. by the laws of Eastern (Chinese, Japanese, etc) Academic Music) and performed with the cascades of masterful, complex, and very diverse passages and solos, all of which are always surrounded by 'flying' overtones, Raudra is just filled with wonderful Indian colors. Well, excluding both of the described tracks, I can say that on the whole, "Tempest" was created within the framework of a unified stylistics. Seven of the eight remaining tracks on the album, including the excellent rendition of Gigue from French Suite No 5 by J. S. Bach (track 7), represent a pure Classic Symphonic Progressive at its best. The contents of these seven compositions, namely Tempest, Yes I Know, Bathroom By the Bongos, Opus V, Getting Gigue Wit It, Plastic Bombastic, and Goodbye Mom (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, & 9), can be described the next way. Complex and at the same time bright arrangements consist of diverse and often contrast interplay between symphonic passages of various synthesizers (including electric organ and piano) and harsh, typically Rock, solos and riffs of electric guitar, frequent changes of tone and mood, etc. Excellent passages of acoustic guitar play a prominent role throughout Bathroom By the Bongos (track 3) and in the end of Goodbye Mom (track 9). Orchestral arrangements, in which I hear medieval-like passages of Synth-clavier, are featured on the rendition of Bach's Gigue (track 7). The parts of drums and other percussion instruments are especially significant on Bathroom By the Bongos and Opus V (tracks 3 & 5). While the bombastic arrangements contain a lot of Brass-like (including fanfares) keyboard solos, they are, in many ways, typical for both Plastic Bombastic and Colossus (tracks 8 & 10), the last track on the album was performed by Kevin Leonard alone. The arsenal of keyboards he used there is large, and on the whole Colossus reminds me of Russian Academic Music of nineteenth century.

Summary. I can't say "Tempest" has rushed into my life like a real tempest. However, this refreshing album has rushed some memories from my past. At the moment, I am trying to recall the other instrumental albums of the Classic Symphonic Art-Rock genre, which I heard after 1999. So, along with the last two albums by the UK's Elegant Simplicity, "Tempest" would probably be one of the best of them. All in all, it comes highly recommended to the lovers of a real Symphonic Progressive.

VM. March 11, 2002


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