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Simon Says (Sweden) - 2002 - "Paradise Square"
(63 min, "Galileo")

1. And By the Water 4:45
2. Paradise Square 13:42
3. Striking Out a Single Note For Love 11:08
4. Fly In a Bottle 5:48
5. Darkfall 2:35 (inst.)
6. White Glove 15:26
7. Aftermath 10:02

All music & lyrics by S. Renstrom,
except 5: music by D. Faldt & S. Renstrom.


Stefan Renstrom - basses; keyboards; (+ narration on 7)
Daniel Faldt - lead & backing vocals (+ sitar on 5 & 6)
Jonas Hallberg - guitars; backing vocals
Mattias Jarlhed - percussion

Produced & engineered by J. Hallberg & S. Renstrom
at "Studio S", Falkoping, Sweden.
Mastered by Stefan Bruto
at "Peak Master" studio.

Prologue. "Paradise Square" is the second album by the Swedish band Simon Says. Their debut album, "Ceinwen", was released in 1998.

The Album. Stylistically, the music that is presented on the "Paradise Square" album is much in the vein of the classic Symphonic Art-Rock of the 1970s, though Genesis's influences are especially evident here. But while Daniel Faldt's vocals clearly reminds me of those of Peter Gabriel, most of the instrumental arrangements on the album are rather original. None of the names of the most influential musicians-virtuosos, such as Tony Banks and Rick Wakeman, Steve Hackett and Steve Howe, Mike Rutherford and Chris Squire, etc, come into my mind when I hear the keyboard and bass guitar solos by Stefan Renstrom and guitar solos by Jonas Hallberg. All the parts by these musicians, as well as Mattias Jarlhed's drumming, are tasteful and truly masterful throughout the album. Among several dozens of the followers, imitators, and wretched wannabes of Genesis, with the creation of which I am familiar, this Swedish band looks as one of the most open-minded and successful interpreters of the legacy of the band that pioneered a theatrically dramatic school of Symphonic Progressive. However, not all of the tracks, that this album consists of, are about that legendary style. The instrumental textures of Fly In a Bottle (track 4) consist for the most part of quite, yet, diverse and very effective interplay between passages of acoustic guitar and the oboe-like solo of synthesizer. It has a slight medieval feel to it both instrumentally and vocally. Here, Daniel doesn't imitate the voice and the way of singing of Gabriel, but goes his own vocal way, despite the fact that Gabriel and Daniel still remain rather rhyming words:J. The only instrumental piece on "Paradise Square", Darkfall (5), represents a blend of Eastern and European music. Filled with wonderful solos of Sitar and symphonic passages of synthesizer, it just breathes with uniqueness. The arrangements of the 16-minute epic song White Glove contain a few episodes that sound truly unique. The magic solos of Sitar, wonderful interplay between passages of classical guitar and piano, and other outstanding features make White Glove an absolute winner, though on the whole, its contents conform to the album's predominant stylistics, which, certainly, is typical for all four of the remaining tracks. Two of them, Striking Out a Single Note For Love (3) and especially the album's title track, Paradise Square (2), are almost as diverse, intriguing, and amazing as White Glove. All three of these tracks are the bright representatives of a hard-edged, truly classic Symphonic Progressive and contain a complete set of progressive ingredients that are typical for this genre. While not masterpieces as White Glove, Paradise Square, and Striking Out a Single Note For Love, both of the remaining songs, And By the Water and Aftermath (1 & 7), are, however, excellent by all means.

Summary. The "Paradise Square" album by Simon Says is a good example of how contemporary musicians can bring something new to the style, which is well known already for many years. So this album should be liked not only by the die-hard fans of the classic Genesis sound, but also by most of the lovers of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock in general.

VM. July 17, 2002


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