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Rick Miller - 2004/2010 - "Dreamtigers"

(42:16, MALS Records)


*****

TRACK LIST:

1.  March of the Demons 3:55
2.  Dreamtigers 6:22
3.  Ghost of a Common Man 7:26
4.  Still In It 4:47
5.  Spanish Fly 2:02
6.  Return of the Acolyte 4:57
7.  Gods of a Distant Land 2:45
8.  The Call 6:56
9.  Sometimes 3:06

LINEUP:

Rick Miller Ц guitars, bass, keyboards; vocals
Will Ц drums 
Sara Young Ц flute 
Kristina Vowles Ц vocals 
Barry Haggarty Ц guitars 
Kane Miller Ц guitars; violin

Prolusion. Canadian composer and musician Rick MILLER started his recording career back in the early eighties, initially exploring music of a more new age-oriented nature. As his skills grew and talent developed his artistic needs grew with them, and just after the millennium he started crafting and eventually releasing music of a more sophisticated nature, inspired by the works of artists like The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd. Self-released at the time of their initial respective creations, most of Miller's back catalogue was picked up and reissued by MALS Records in 2010, "Dreamtigers" from 2004 and "The End of Days" from 2006 both among those obviously.

Analysis. "Dreamtigers" is a production that delivers pretty much what you would expect from a CD carrying such a name: dream-laden, atmospheric compositions rich in mood and emotion, with something of a bite and a snarl to them. Musically we're not dealing with what ardent art rock fans would describe as challenging music however. Sophisticated for sure, but within a stylistic context where the outer perimeters have been set by artists such as Pink Floyd, Camel and Vangelis. Slow-to-mid-paced efforts with an emphasis on dream-laden atmospheres is the end result, where the gentle wailing of the solo guitar is one of many traits lavishly applied to conjure up the harmonic landscapes to be found, this particular item being one those fond of Andy Latimer and David Gilmour's antics surely will appreciate. Rich symphonic backdrops and themes are a constant feature throughout, more often than not in total harmony with both acoustic and electric guitar, depending on which of them is applied at any given time, and rather often incorporating the aforementioned mood-laden solo guitar in its midst as well. Flute and violin add some nice details to the arrangements, and opting for female lead vocals on most non-instrumental tracks suits this kind of music perfectly. This is a type of music heavily explored by others, however, and as such a stylistic expression where it is both difficult and challenging to make a great impression. That Miller has managed to conjure up a handful or so of efforts that have a major impact redounds to his credit in that context, with opening effort March of the Demons the most enthralling of these to my ears Ц the dark, brooding undercurrent that is a defining aspect of this composition creating a strong and compelling contrast to the dream-laden symphonic art rock dominating the arrangements.

Conclusion. "Dreamtigers" is a fine example of sophisticated symphonic art rock of the atmosphere-laden variety, music that should interest those who enjoy Pink Floyd's УDark Side of the MoonФ and Camel's various endeavors as well as fans of the less known contemporary explorers of that stylistic expression such as Phideaux and The Future Kings of England.


Rick Miller - 2006/2010 - "The End of Days"

(45:15, MALS Records)


****+

TRACK LIST:

1.  The End of Days 7:27
2.  The Knives of Indifference 6:03
3.  The Prisoner 5:04
4.  Soma for Your Soul 5:55
5.  The Prisoner's Escape 4:31
6.  Echoes of You 4:03
7.  Eating Goya 4:31
8.  I Can Hear the Sunrise 5:32
9.  Face into the Wind 0:28
10. Angel Eyes-2 1:41

LINEUP:

Rick Miller Ц various instruments; vocals
Will - drums
With:
Sara Young Ц flute 
Kane Miller Ц guitars 

Analysis. Following two years after "Dreamtigers," "The End of Days" sees Canadian Rick Miller focusing his sound somewhat, opting to cut out some of the finer details that to my ears at least invigorated its predecessor and instead honing in closer to the late 70's Pink Floyd style. But in a manner that lacks the subtle sophistication of Gilmour & Co, exploring the overall sound with more of an emphasis on the pleasant and harmonic sides of it. Slow, dampened crying guitar soloing augmented by a compact rather than a lush symphonic theme is the common approach throughout this CD, and the occasional guitar riff and more distinctly blues-based guitar solo are given ample space to enrich the proceedings too. With Miller providing the lead vocals himself this time around, too, the overall effect is of an album and a sound more uniform and focused, for better or worse, depending on point of view and personal taste obviously. Myself, I found it harder to be enthralled by these compositions, although all of them are pleasant enough experiences in general. I do like the sound Miller explores, but I'm also a sucker for the subtle details, of which I find too few to cater for my personal taste on this disc. Several times some neat details do enliven the proceedings, the eastern-inspired themes on The Prisoner the best and most interesting of these, but by and large these songs come across as too pleasant to make a grand impression. Tastes differ of course, and I can easily see many being enthralled by this album too. It all depends on what you crave in a song and in an album.

Conclusion. Late 70's Pink Floyd is a sticker that should be attached to Rick Miller's 2006 production "The End of All Days". His highly melodic, harmonic and pleasant take on that sound is one that will intrigue quite a few of the people who are of the opinion that "The Dark Side of the Moon" is the best album ever made. Miller's excursion into this realm of expression isn't as detailed or sophisticated, but he's a caretaker of the good melody and the pleasant atmosphere of this style this time around. A good album, and probably one that will be regarded as outstanding by those with a strong fascination for a dream-laden approach to this general sound.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 12 & 13, 2011
The Rating Room


Related Links:

MALS Records
Rick Miller


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