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Collage - Moonshine CD (album) cover





4.04 | 338 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Here's one for the crude humor folks: how many Poles does it take to make a great prog album? Five, if they are COLLAGE. Energetic, lushly produced modern symphonic prog with plenty of emotion is the rule here, with more emphasis on the orchestral synth sounds than the guitar- although the guitar also sounds great, often trilling high up on the neck for an almost bagpipe-like sound. "WOW" is what I thought when the opening salvo of sonics erupted from my speakers; "Heroes Cry" calms down a bit for the chorus, but this is one majestic sounding piece. I wonder why this (and two other tracks) is listed as a fragment- does the live version go on longer, or is there another installment to come? "In Your Eyes" isn't a Gabriel cover (or a MINOR THREAT cover for that matter) but rather a moody piano-based meditation that blossoms into soaring, adventurous pop-rock. The drummer is frankly amazing, peeling off syncopated fills and effortlessly making complex rhythmic and stylistic transitions. This, plus the occasional shimmering guitar arpeggios, led me to think briefly of RUSH, but COLLAGE demonstrates more classical influence and conversely also shows a pop/ rock songwriting skill like few other modern prog bands (PORCUPINE TREE is one of the better examples). "Lovely Day" may be a little too pop-sounding for some, but I like that they're not afraid to sound pretty- which they do quite often on this album. "Living in the Moonlight" is a bit darker, but only relatively. "The Blues" wears on me just a little, but there are still plenty of worthwhile instrumental highlights. "Wings in the Night" is a return to excellence, again combining a slightly darker opening with an energetic development into a soaring conclusion. The pizzicato string synth parts are beautifully, blatantly emotional, as is Robert Amirian's yearning vocal track. If you're waiting for him to settle down, it's not going to happen on "Moonshine", where his vocals often sound about to burst with angry, frustrated desire (the track does mellow near the end, with a lovely melancholy fade). And "War is Over" is a triumphant and anthemic conclusion, with some suprising martial/ folk sounds unlike anything else on the album. Am I gushing? There are drawbacks- all the songs sound somewhat similar in a way that makes you wonder if they're falling into a stylistic rut, but it is a lovely similarity after all. They are not going to turn the world on its ear with anything they're doing here, but prog as a whole is unlikely to recapture the general public interest anyway (and that's not such a bad thing). And it goes without saying that the jazz- influence prog fanatics are unlikely to adore it. You may find yourself in need of something gritty and ironic ("Joe's Garage" maybe?) to cleanse your audio palate after listening to all this earnest, glistening majesty.
James Lee | 3/5 |


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