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Runaway Totem (Italy) - 1999 - "Andromeda"
(49 min, "Musea")


****+
Tracklist:
1. Kontakt 13:03
2. Tempus Fugiens 8:44
3. Od Ob 8:47
4. Kadman Neso 10:39
5. Andros Medomai 8:07

All tracks: by Runaway Totem.

Line-up:

Roberto Veronese - keyboards & piano
Roberto Gottardi - guitars; vocals
Rene Modena - guitars
Dario Gelmetti - bass
Germano Morghen - drums

Produced by Runaway Totem.

Recorded & mixed by Marco Olivotto
at "Sonica Studio SRL".

Prologue. At the outset I must say that I have only heard the second Runaway Totem CD, "Zed". Overall, I wasn't impressed with that blend of progressive Doom-Metal and Space Rock, which was presented, despite the fact that it sounded rather original. As for "Andromeda", which is the band's third album, I read several reviews of it, and most of them were positive. In those reviews, the band's style was most often defined as Zeuhl.

The Album. Unlike "Zed", "Andromeda" is an album, the contents of which look really coherent. However, with the exception of lyrics in some invented language, which, though, very much reminds me of Magma's Kobajan, there is nothing on this album that, in my view, could be related to Zeuhl - including Roberto Gottardi's excellent, theatrically comic way of singing. So, IMHO, the stylistics of Runaway Totem's music on this album is still about the same blend of progressive Doom-Metal and classic Space Rock. Though now, as the band's music became really distinctive and integral, its style can be regarded as an innovative Space Doom-Metal. (Don't confuse this with Symphonic Space Metal pioneered by Eloy in the first half of the 1980s.) Overall, all five of the songs that are presented on "Andromeda" were created within the framework of a unified stylistics, the essence of which I've just described. The elements of Symphonic Art-Rock appear on the album only episodically. The only track where they're really noticeable is Tempus Fugiens (2), which features the cello-like passages of synthesizer and excellent solos of organ and piano. IMHO, the keyboard player Roberto Veronese is the most masterful musician in the band. Above all, thanks to him and his solos and passages on keyboards the arrangements on this album sound more diverse. The riffs of rhythm electric guitar are, on the whole, strong and tasteful regardless whether they're slow or mid-tempo. Whereas the solos of lead guitar are not only simple, but also rather boring. I don't know which of the band's two guitarists played them. Nevertheless, it's clear that the same musician performed all of the solos, and they're openly weak and uninspired throughout the album. Yes, the music that is featured on "Andromeda" sounds fresh and, overall, definitely progressive. However, although the band tries to use the stop-to-play movements as often as possible, almost all the soloing parts that feature them (heavy riffs of guitar and bass, and chords of synthesizer, apart from the drumming) were done the most simple way, - either in unison or in fourth and fifth. Also, there are too many repetitions on each of the five tracks on the album, which, whatever one may say, is not that typical for Progressive, - at least for Classic Progressive.

Summary. Despite the fact that Runaway Totem's "Andromeda" is by no means a masterpiece of Prog, it is in many ways better than their previous album "Zed". In that way, it's clear that the band continues to develop their compositional and performing skills, which, with regard to the Progressive Rock movement, is always better than any forms of stagnation, including those that have to do with the strongest bands of genre. Also, I still regard originality as a major trump, and these guys have it up their sleeves. All in all, "Andromeda" is at least a promising album. Perhaps Runaway Totem's masterpiece exists somewhere in the near future and simply awaits discovery. Meanwhile, I'll wait for the invention of such separate (and very light) headphones with zippers that I could use by zipping and unzipping around each of my ears (a-la hoop-la), which would be really great. (Tired of the speakers and the hoop-like phones.)

VM. August 9, 2002


Related Links:

Musea Records
Musea Records


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