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(73:40, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Gentlemen of Fortune 25:40 2. The Shore & the Breathing Night 24:40 3. The Sea Adventure 23:20 PERFORMERS: 1. Velvet Desperados 2. Floating State 3. Nexus
Prolusion. TREASURE ISLAND is one of several projects in which the Finnish progressive music association Colossus and the French record label Musea cooperate. In this case three bands were invited to make an epic of a minimum 20 minutes in length, with sound and instrumentation as were used by progressive rock bands in the early ‘70s, and with Robert Louis Stevenson's classic swashbuckling novel "Treasure Island" as the theme for the compositions.
Analysis. These concept releases from Colossus and Musea are a fascinating venture. Combining the nature of concept albums, long epic compositions with the different bands given free rein within set limitations, most times manage to create something worthwhile checking out by fans of music from the ‘70s era, even if some artists are stretched beyond their limitations with the task at hand at times. The Finnish outfit VIOLENT DESPERADOS opens the ball on this particular release, and they contribute with a tune that does stretch towards the limitations of the project, and perhaps a bit beyond. The first 10 minutes of their composition explore a warm musical landscape, where the bass guitar is the central, stable element. Organ, guitar and brass spice up the soundscape, and funky leanings start developing within a style not too dissimilar to what a band like Umphrey's McGee excels at nowadays. For the next 4 minutes the funk leanings intensify, and we end up with a segment pretty close in style to ‘70s funk-based pop and rock, with some disco elements thrown in for good measure. After a drum solo and a rather inappropriate humorous interlude, Violent Desperado continues in a style and manner reminding me pretty much of a mix of Man and Blue Oyster Cult, semi-improvisational sounding progressive rock with some hard rock edges, only broken up by a bagpipe solo starting just before the twenty minute mark and lasting for a couple of minutes. The composition in itself is patchy and slightly ineffective, but most of the segments that it consists of are groovy and catchy, although not always what one might consider progressive rock. The Italian band FLOATING STATE continues with a lush start to their tune, floating keyboard textures, mellow guitar licks and percussion forming an almost ambient setting, rising in intensity until it blossoms somewhat over 3 minutes later. The rest of the composition is a mix of symphonic progressive and jazz-fusion, highly adventurous in nature. NEXUS from Argentina has the third and last song on this album, and for fans of 70's progressive rock their contribution might well be the reason for acquiring this one. Kicking off with a majestic symphonic segment in a style quite similar to what German band Eloy explored on their classic release "Ocean", dreamy and mellow keyboard layers first take over. During the next 20 minutes or so we're treated to a very nice and highly symphonic epic workout with some slight space rock leanings, with dreamy keyboard layers, haunting organ underscoring and atmospheric guitar playing being all vital elements in the composition that ebbs and flows between the lush and mellow to the majestic and grandiose in style, all the time taking care to focus on distinct melody lines and upholding a dreamlike mood to the epic as a whole. The song is a tad patchy in this case too, but the various segments are for the most part of such good quality that this tune still manages to be highly fascinating, at least for fans of the style of music they explore.
Conclusion. Many fans of symphonic progressive rock will probably find this release to be somewhat less intriguing than the previous ones in this ongoing joint venture Colossus and Musea have going here, and of the releases I've heard personally this one is a bit on the weak side. Fans of this series will undoubtedly want to buy this one, and fans of 70's grooves might want to check this one out, too.
OMB: July 31, 2008
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