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Anton Roolaart - Dreamer CD (album) cover


Anton Roolaart


Symphonic Prog

3.58 | 46 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I have known Anton Roolaart for many years, we were work colleagues for some time, we played music together for a period and we have fundamentally stayed friends over the years. As such, it would seem inappropriate for me to write a review of Anton's debut CD Release "Dreamer". But on the other hand, taken with a grain of salt, this review can provide more insight and a very special view point that in the end can make the read worthwhile. So here goes!!

Anton Roolaarts debut CD Dreamer has just been released, and even though Anton had shared bits and pieces of the music with me through the lifecycle of the project I was pretty anxious to see how the project turned out as a package. I was very pleasantly surprised, not only of the overall product but also of the level of compositional maturity and musicianship that the album demonstrates. Oddly enough, I find I really like this album .. a lot!! It is very rare that I get excited about an album but quite honestly Dreamer's symphonic rock stylings somehow transmits a freshness and energy that injects well being to my spirit. Quite honestly I haven't felt so enthused and even enamored with a prog rock album like this for many years now. In the early years of Prog 70's (ok folks I ain't no spring chicken) freshness of ideas abounded, groups like Gentle Giant, Genesis, Yes and many others were popping up everywhere and listeners ears were constantly being refreshed and delighted. To get this kind of sensation from new prog rock offerings at least during that phase of my life was quite common. But many years have gone by, the great flow of novelty and richness from progrock seemed to ebb away over time and I strayed into other musical areas such Jazz, County and Latin music to quech my need for fresh and rewarding music. Not to say that a lot of great progrock has not happened since, but that I personally did not stay the course if you will, today I have been playing catch up on prog rock .. a lot of good stuff for sure continues to come out... amongst these Anton's "Dreamer" !

What do I like about the album? First off it's originality; each song is truly original, unique and a firm statement. Each song is elaborated and arranged with an amazing amalgam of sounds and musical ideas that seem to fit perfectly together. The energy level is strong and positive throughout the album. This is all pulled off so seamlessly and everything flows together ever so naturally. There is a lot to listen to. Sonorities are well within the gamut of what prog rockers have learned to love from the classic groups, but these are expanded, embracing sounds and capabilities that today's instrumentation can only provide. There is a fair share of instrumental soloing but even though they are at times extensive, are crafted such that they tie in melodically at different points rendering the effect such that you seem to even loose track that it is or even was a solo at one point. Quite extraordinary! I will talk more specifically about the guitar work shortly but of note is the extensive use of different sonaral effects and instruments. The album includes vocal parley', operatic vocals, (real) Cello, flute , wind sounds, laughter and more. These devices are all utilized in such a way that they are all essential musical entities that not only fit in just right, but are hard to imagine the piece would be the same without these. This all may sound odd perhaps but I believe if you listen you may understand and hopefully concur.

Anton and I actually played together for some time, first, for a period as a duo performing his compositions and than later in a cover band.. My role was always lead guitar although Anton did not hold back and did some lead work as well, especially in our cover adventures. Anton was always keen on playing his compositions and we did do some of his compositions in the band. I enjoyed playing his music in both venues. I was always the flashy and perhaps more technical player and my main occupation was guitar, solos, fills and arrangements.. Later, I strayed off from the prock/rock genre to dedicate myself to more acoustic oriented music, Bossa, Jazz playing while Anton focused on maturing his compositional and overall musicality. He started playing out more and more, improving his vocals and working hard in his studio, for some time he had some difficulty getting another band together and he looked toward midi and overall modern computer based technology as a means of putting together the arrangements he had in his head. He was really into rhythm and started playing his own drum parts, he also took lessons to enhance his abilities. He also embraced keyboard playing which was very essential for home recording.. and also ended up taking lessons. But guitar has always been his main instrument and he would always play guitar live and also took Jazz lessons. Anton would always come and see my trio doing the Jazz Bossa and actually country stuff we would play in local cafe's at times I played Slide by putting the guitar on my lap and playing it as a lap steel.. I ended up buying a real lap steel from Ted Smith of Melobar. Anton followed suite and one day I stopped over his house he had me listen to a melody he was working on for the intro of a song. He wanted to know if I could try playing it on steel guitar. So he pulled out his Melobar and set me up and in a couple of takes we had it. This is the slide you hear on the intro of "Dreamer". Shortly after that I moved away from NJ but I did visit again after a couple of years and Anton again asked me to do a solo on one of his songs. I complied, I thought what I did was pretty good but it did not have the feel that Anton wanted and he never used it. Anton was always a great Steve Howe fan and he never really could find anybody that could play with the feel he wanted. The solution was simple.. he had to do it himself and that's what you have on "Dreamer" some really great guitar playing in many ways in the vein of Steve Howe but undeniably Anton Roolaart. I am very happy to see how Anton has matured in so many directions, as a composer, arranger, vocalist and guitar player. Its pretty amazing, but it is clearly the result of passion, dedication and conviction. I personally had stayed away from mixing computer technology with music (since I am an IT/Architect by trade) and one of the things that I learned from all my acoustical adventures was that good music is good music and does not need a grand production to make its point. As one can notice on "Dreamer" most songs are very elaborately arranged, well truth be known Anton has and continues to execute this material not only with his band but also on his own with a simple acoustic guitar, and the songs hold up! So the quality of the musical compositions are in my opinion is definitely there.

As an insider I have to say there is one disappointment that I need to claim for "Dreamer". It does not include some of my favorite Anton Roolaart songs!! "Only Escape" and "Messenger" for example! All this says is that there is a lot of good music that Anton has still to offer! I am enthusiastically looking forward to hearing more, and must admit that his music is something that I am enjoying very much. And quite honestly, very much to my own astonishment. I would even to go far as to saying that "Mid Summers Day" has the characteristics of what can constitute a prog rock classic. Any serious prog rock fan owes it to themselves to at least give "Dreamer" a good listen.

vvitalebossa | 4/5 |


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