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Monarch Trail - Skye CD (album) cover


Monarch Trail



3.92 | 151 ratings

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4 stars Some years ago thanks to this great site (Progarchives) I was contacted by Canadian musician Ken Baird, a talented composer and keyboard player who kindly introduced me to his solo music; and last year he and his two friends who also were featured on Baird's solo albums, decided to start a new project entitled Monarch Trail, in which Ken plays keyboards and sings, while Dino Verginella plays the bass and Chris Lamont the drums. This new band fits perfectly in the likes of those who love symphonic and neo-progressive rock; and it is complemented by three guest guitarists: John Mamone, Steve Cochrane and Kelly Kereliuk.

The album features four songs and a total time of 46 minutes. It starts with a magnificent song entitled "Luminiscence", whose eleven minutes offer a mixture of sounds, nuances and textures that create images and stories. It is evident that keyboards take the leadership and it is understandable because Ken Baird is a gifted man, who might not be famous, but man, what he does is magic and we, the prog rock fans, must thank guys like him who always make a big effort to offer wonderful music. In moments I can listen to a mellotron, which of course adds an even most beautiful sound; there are several changes and passages, but all of them are truly enjoyable. A feast of symphonic rock that I hope will be appreciated by more and more listeners in the near future. Great opener track!

"Silent World" starts softly with piano but after some seconds an explosion of energy appears with bombastic keyboards. After 40 seconds vocals enter, a calm atmosphere is created and the drums participate with excellent figures. The song has so many changes in time and mood, it is a great carousel of sounds that produce interesting contrasts, because sometimes we can listen to soft and delicate moments, and seconds later powerful and enchanting tunes. I had the luck of playing this song on my radio show, which the same Ken could listen by the way, and I must say I received positive comments from my audience. So I hope people listen to this because I am sure they will be satisfied.

The shortest track comes next and is entitled "East of Fifty", which is a 6-minute instrumental song full of joy, power and symphonic passages. Keyboards are omnipresent, drums always playing accurate rhythms and figures, while bass produces the perfect lines that complement an excellent work. Finally, the fourth and longest song of the album comes, with the title of "Sky Above The Sun", Monarch Trail gives us a summary of their music in a long, challenging and addictive track. It starts with a calm rhythm, and well here the first element I appreciated was the guitar, which in this track is on charge of John Mamone. After 3 minutes vocals enter, introducing us to a new passage, but it would be really difficult to describe every single passage because as you can imagine, this long track provides so many atmospheres and nuances, changes and passages that let us feel excited, entertained and charmed by the band's sound. Endless colors and images are brought here, so it is our responsibility as listeners to decorate the own stories we create in our minds. At half the song there is a passage of calm and relaxation I love, because it is like taking a rest and a deep breath in order to start something new; here is where Cochrane's guitar appears accompaniying Baird's vocals in a beautiful moment; and when it finishes, a somber and tense sound appears and new episodes begin. And so on. Whayt a tremendous song to finish this wonderful album.

I really hope more people get involved with Ken Baird's music and of course this Monarch Trail album, because it is a solid release that I am sure any fan of symphonic prog would love. I will rate it with four solid stars, nearly perfect.

Enjoy it!

memowakeman | 4/5 |


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