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Telergy - 2015 - "Hypatia"

(63:30, ‘Telergy’)


1. Scene, No.1 0:38
2. Astronomer 7:15
3. Scene, No.2 0:37
4. Philosopher 11:44
5. Scene, No.3 0:38
6. Mathematician 4:23
7. Scene, No.4 0:25
8. Teacher 6:57
9. Scene, No.5 0:28
10. The Burning of the Library of Alexandria 11:36
11. Scene, No.6 0:39
12. Scapegoat 2:54
13. Scene, No.7 1:05
14. Murder 9:30
15. Scene, No.8 1:03
16. Martyr 3:11
17. Scene, No.9 0:27


Robert McClung – vocals; instruments (listed below)
Chris Bonito – drums  
Oliver Holzwarth (ex-Sieges Even) – bass 
Oliver Wakeman (Black Sabbath\) – keyboards 
David Ragsdale (Kansas) – violin, viola
Chris Caffery (ex-Savatage) – guitars
Jennifer Lanter – French horn
Scott Page – saxophone
John Halloran – clarinet 
Barbara Lafitte – oboe 
Mattan Klein – flute 
Adam Nunes – cello 
Jaimee Joroff – harp 
Mac Ritchey – oud 
Joshua Collier – vocals 
Tamara Mcshea – vocals 
Many other instrumentalists and singers

Prolusion. The US project TELERGY is the creative vehicle for composer and musician Robert McClung (whose instrumentation includes: guitar, bass, mandolin, balalaika, ukulele, sitar, lap steel, piano, organ, synthesizers, violin, viola, flute, percussion, bodhran, tenor vocals and baritone vocals). His aim is to create and release conceptual albums under this name, utilizing guest performers for various instrument and vocal roles, in some ways comparable to Ayreon. So far he has released three albums, all of them revolving around historical persons and events. "Hypatia" is the most recent of those, and dates back to 2015.

Analysis. With a literal army of guest musicians and voice actors involved, this production by McClung and his Telergy project is certainly the most ambitious so far, and the number of people involved dwarfs most (if not all) other such projects I have come across, Ayreon included. Where Telergy separates from the norm is that none of the roles here include singing, and as such this isn't an album that plays out like a rock opera. The story is rather told in brief quotes and enactments, scenes or narrations, if you like, then illustrated by compositions that are by and large devoid of a vocal presence, at least as far as lead vocals are concerned. Backing vocals are brought in on regular occasions though, to add or emphasize atmospheric or more dramatic impulses. The narrative scenes, while having the function of providing the bare bones of the concept explored, are also the weakest parts of this album. They feel strained and rather overly theatrical at times. My impression is that they would function rather well in a theater production, where they would have been a part of a totality with body language, real people you can see and visual cues on the stage itself all making the somewhat overly dramatic tendencies less noticeable. But on an audio CD production they feel more strained and forced when it is the voice itself that gets all the attention. McClung has been wise enough to separate the narration from the music here though, so that those who feel like I do can skip straight to the compositions, all of which hold a high quality throughout, I should add. The main recurring trait here is orchestration, from more careful strings and flutes to what sounds like a full-fledged orchestra as a supplemental feature, but also as the dominant aspect of the compositions. We're treated to two examples of purebred classical music here, one orchestral and one with more of a chamber music feel to it, and both of them are excellent too. Some of the shorter cuts focus more on a vibrant power or progressive metal style with the orchestral details are restricted to a supplemental role, while the longer compositions normally contain sections with more of a film score feel to them with the orchestral instruments either dominant or as the sole providers of certain arrangements, and will otherwise feature them in part or in whole as supplemental features in works that explore both symphonic progressive rock, progressive metal, power metal and, interestingly enough, world music. In most cases with several styles given a nod or more in each of the longer and more elaborate compositions. And McClung strikes me as an excellent composer, managing to make all of these creations come across as complete and well developed, despite the number of styles involved and just how different some of them are when compared.

Conclusion. "Hypatia" is an album with two different dimensions to it. The narrative cycles, which come across as weak, at least when used in this context, and the compositions, which by and large, are high quality and at best impressive. As an album experience the former are detrimental, but the latter makes me conclude that this is an album worth giving a shot anyhow, an album you should stick with a bit and give a chance or two. Those who enjoy orchestral music mixed with progressive rock and metal in particular should take note of this output.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 21, 2016
The Rating Room

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