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(59:41, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Time Pieces 10:58 2. Future Awaits 7:07 3. Eleven 7:29 4. Autumn 8:02 5. El Diablo Suelto 4:02 6. Coming Down Again 6:12 7. Voice of the Storm-1 6:06 8. Voice of the Storm-2 9:49 LINEUP: Rafael Paz – piano; keyboards Mauricio Barroeta – guitars Felix Duque – vocals Pedro Misle – bass Eduardo Benatar – drums
Prolusion. RC2 is a band with a history going back to 1999. Caracas was the founding city of this act, Venezuela the home nation. The band managed to get signed to Musea Records, which released their debut album in 2003. One year later they moved to Spain, and in 2008 their sophomore creation was released, this time by hard working US label Progrock Records.
Analysis. RC2 states that bands like Marillion, Yes, Genesis, Camel and Rush are main influences on the type of music they like to explore: those fostered by the founders of the neo progressive genre, vintage symphonic acts and a more hard rocking Canadian power trio. And this is one of the instances where a band's named influences can easily be found in the music they make and one of the very rare cases of the type where the results of these influences also contain high amounts of originality and creativity, where even a description like “adventurous” is suitable. It's no surprise that the foundation of all compositions on this recording is symphonic rock; this is as expected. But it is a nice surprise to hear how these musicians have crafted their creations. All songs, from start to finish, are carefully planned in sound and structure. There are no dominating instruments or aspects to be spoken of in these tunes, apart from the focus on strong melodies. The various instruments are carefully and skillfully mixed in a nuanced, rather complex, manner where great care is taken at all times to produce a balanced, detailed soundscape rich in textures and details. The Hammond, or what sounds very much like one, is a mostly constant feature in all songs here. Most times placed way back in the mix, adding nuances and fleshing out finer details of the melody lines, this instrument is ever present, but rarely given a dominating role: the few times it does is in soloing segments, and even then brief and effective more often than not. The guitars have a more prominent place in the mix and the band opts for the use of acoustic guitars as well as clean, undistorted, electric guitars in most passages on this production. Swirling and energetic or mellow and laid-back in style, it's the instrument of choice for melody delivery, as well as providing atmospheric notes and the odd surprising detail to the individual songs. The more common distorted electric guitar is used more sparingly, but to great effect, serving dampened, subdued slick chords, some nice melodic guitar soloing as well as a few more metal-tinged details in selected passages, especially on the first half of this CD. At all times the guitar sound, in all aspects used throughout these songs, is more or less subdued though, in the front of the mix quite often but never in a truly dominating manner, instead adding to the overall sound and melody explored. The piano and synths are used in much the same manner as the guitar, with some dominating spots for swirling synth soloing, otherwise subdued to a greater or lesser extent to flesh out the main melody alongside the guitars, while the piano first and foremost provides details and nuances except for the mellow segments in the compositions. Drums and bass guitar provide steady and at times creative rhythmical foundations for the melodic explorations, and the bass guitar is given a more dominant position in selected parts, supplying driving, insistent, melodic details when needed. The structures of these compositions are well made too, evolving nicely when themes are explored, and with a great variety in pace, sound and style throughout. Few of the songs are predictable, although the surprising elements more often than not are of a nuanced character rather than a dramatic one. The overall sound explored has a firm foundation in ‘70s symphonic progressive rock, with named influences like Camel and Genesis easily detectable. RC2 does include musical elements that often made me think of an act like Sylvan too: atmospheric keyboard and guitar themes and some cautious ventures towards progressive metal on a few occasions. But there are also a few nods towards fusion at times here: a short drum exploration, a bass line briefly showcased or a piano line coming and going, minor details carefully crafted into the composition for that surprising element that keeps the listener attentive. The only elements lacking for this album to be a true classic are the songs themselves, though. Much care and attention have been given to the instruments, to the finer details each instrument can add, to surprising nuances and details and even to the evolution of the individual compositions. Brilliant from a technical point of view, but the overall mood and atmosphere of this album tend to be a bit too clinical at times, somewhat too slick, somewhat too planned, a bit lacking in terms of raw emotion and passion. Still, this is a high class release that should have a broad appeal and one of the finer symphonic releases of 2008.
Conclusion. "Future Awaits" by Spanish-based Venezuelan act RC2 is a fine release, blending a firm foundation in classic symphonic rock with select details from the more atmospheric modern variety of this style of music and adding in a few leanings towards progressive metal too. This blending of stylistic elements should make this production appealing to fans of vintage as well as modern, more atmospheric, symphonic rock, and people into both kinds should find this one to be highly compelling.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 11, 2009
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