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Rainbow Theatre - The Armada CD (album) cover


Rainbow Theatre


Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 38 ratings

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4 stars Sprawling, hugely ambitious prog opera from Aussies Rainbow Theatre led by guitarist/arranger Julian Browning who also makes ample use of a great-sounding mellotron. Organist Matthew Cozen, Keith Hoban's voice, drummer Graeme Carter, bassist Ferg McKinnon, Stephen Nash on saxes and winds, and a whole cast of other players including a trumpet, trombone and seven-person choir make Browning's vision come alive. The experiment is both inspired and excessive, but on the whole it is a remarkable piece of music with the arrangement itself as a subject of focus, the many moods and background colors being much of the appeal (making it a real headphone listener). The album is often compared to early King Crimson but in certain ways it is better, pushing past the heavenly glory of the Crims for, in 1975, a less abstract approach to modern rock stylings and though there are imperfections here and there and some intonation problems, it's nothing major. The four-part 'The Darkness Motive' is a superb rock orchestration that parades brass sections, ELP-style flourish and bold artistry. Keith Hoban's monk-like tenor may take some getting used to but at least the man can sing, and Browning's mellotron passages are sterling. The choir shines on 'Petworth House' sometimes reminding of Renaissance's epic 'Scheherazade', and the foreboding title cut at fifteen minutes is a mythical journey on the seas, an enormous undertaking with soaring vocal choruses, neat jazz breaks, Ravel, and much theatrics. Bonus track 'Icarus' also worth a mention and the Aztec reissue comes in a beautiful two-fold digipack with a nice booklet. A real show from top to bottom and will leave you feeling like you've just had a marvelous night at the symphony.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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