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Asia Minor - Between Flesh And Divine CD (album) cover


Asia Minor


Symphonic Prog

4.16 | 315 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
5 stars This is one of my favourite albums, and, even though it is too short and the last cut, "Dreadful Memories", is a waste, it gets 5 stars, because the rest is so exceptional, both for sheer quality and also for the fact that it appeared in 1981, and we all know what most of the prog "greats" were doing in 1981. Wondrous swirling prog a la King Crimson (both ITCOCK and Red) meets Camel, with a bit of authentic Turkish ethnicity thrown in, resulting in a style which I call Asia Minor. Lots of angularity in harsh guitars but also intensely melodic as brought out by the lead guitars, abundant woodwinds, and occasional mellotrons and other keys. The vocalist sounds a bit like Andy Latimer but a bit stronger and with barely a trace of an accent. Although these guys were based in France, you get none of the histrionics characteristic of French prog. This is the result of a band playing together as a team.

"Nightwind" kicks things off strongly with an almost fusion-y beginning, the organs and bass providing a backdrop for the guitars before the flute makes its first appearance, carrying an airy but muscular tune. With so many changes in tempo, nothing feels forced. The middle vocal section is mellow and features unusual but compatible flute accompaniment. Note this flute is nothing like Tull whatsoever, much more classically inspired and more like what you got on the first few KC albums in "I Talk to the Wind" and "Cadence and Cascade". When the band takes over it is led by more flutes and percussion and this is where you get the whirling dervish feel. One last quiet segment and then the mellotron choir kicks off the closing theme. Perfection in six and a half minutes.

"Northern Lights" is just as good, with the structure of the opener turned on its ear. Here we start gently with electric piano to which gentle guitar and flutes are joined. Silence, then more dark sinister guitars, before the wonderful vocal segment begins, supported by ethereal lead guitar and mellotron, which ultimately end the work.

Then a gentle short song, "Boundless", with quite a hook for the chorus. This could have racked up some airplay even on AM radio a few years before.

The next two songs return more or less to the style of the two opening tracks. "Dedicace" contains yet another lengthy opening dominated by flute, bass, drums, and KC styled rhythm guitar themes, before the vocals join in. It contains more vocals and is the only song where the vocals are actually fast paced for part of the piece, although again a slow dreamy section in the middle. The organ playing here is particularly noteworthy. "Lost in a Dream Yell" again shifts components around and is mostly vocal for the first few minutes before ceding to one of the most extended and rewarding instrumental passages that ultimately closes the CD for all intents and purposes. The flutes and massed drums, along with fretless bass (I believe) never fail to move me, whatever else I may be thinking of while listening. Asia Minor is not background music, even if it can be intensely relaxing.

So the great stuff is only 31 minutes of so in length, but it is of such high quality that its scantness can be forgiven. While it would have been best not to include the final track, its presence at the end is far less of a disruption that had it appeared in the middle. This CD comes with my highest recommendation for those who love symphonic prog with many textures and shades.

kenethlevine | 5/5 |


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