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Magenta - Seven CD (album) cover

SEVEN

Magenta

 

Neo-Prog

4.09 | 238 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars One of the great added-value attributes of the much "poo pooed" Neo prog genre is that it can very well serve as a bridge to bring over many "neophytes" to the Prog Wonderland. Not everyone is fortunate to be born suckling from a Gentle Giant, Yes or a King Crimson tittie and growing up to become a strong prog-muscled Atlas! Some of us need to slowly glide up the ladder from Old McDonald to the national anthem and then, the teenage musical flavor of the month in the media fueled system. Obviously, introducing my 14 year-old to Tool or Taal right off the bat is going to be an exercise in perpetual disdain, so what better tactic than slipping something more ear-friendly (though NEVER Radio- Friendly) and slowly swerving those innocent taste buds. She already likes Sylvan's "Chains" and "One Step Beyond", Jon & Vangelis' "Friends of Mister Cairo" and good old "Epitath" (more because she knows how much it means to me), so when I played Magenta's "Envy", the second tune off the second album, she immediately started to repeat the chorus and sing along. Repeated requests for a return visit elicited deep pride and only then could I truly judge the impact of the song, the album and the entire genre. While the debut "Revolutions" focused on elongated epic Yes-like behemoths, with little input from Christina Booth, the sophomore " Seven" unleashes a new more polished, less massive style with the fascinating spotlight delivered directly on a new female vocal persona , a Progstar is born. Closer analysis reveals that she has only the gender in common with Annie Haslam (poor girl, every female prog singer has to be measured against her and who will actually cooperate with Magenta later!), a more contemporary look (she is darn' pretty sexy!) and a voice that transcends styles and genres. Robert Reed realized the ace in the hole at the main mike and molded the arrangements accordingly. Smart move, mate! This is a very good recording that has garnered much PA praise and for all the right reasons: on target subject material (the 7 Deadly Sins), great evocative songs, astute professional playing from all musicians and a sizzling overall mood to the entire project that exudes comfort and glee. In fact, it may well be one of the finest NEO-prog monuments yet. The proceedings kick off inspiringly with the 12 minute" Gluttony" , a left-over Yes piece recorded by another band, full of vocal "cha, cha, chas", oblique how? guitar ornamentals, fat squired bass, very white drumming and an assortment of keyboards that will wake(you),man. Christina's lungs shine brightly, illuminating the pleasure of the message and the genuineness hits home, "all alone". An exceptionally airy Chris Fry guitar solo sets fire to the fuse, propelling the emotion to aerie heights, with Robert supplying some Gabrielesque male vocals in a duel with Christina's majestic plea. The final 2 minutes are ecstasy incarnate. "Envy" is the more direct tune here, a ravishing melody wrapped around some astounding lyrics and the fragile chorus that will send shivers down any spine: "One day, the fire will burn so bright , the love you lost will find the road to your heart again". A reflective mid- section includes some simmering acoustic playing, a resounding organ foray and some lush string symphonics engulfing some delicate piano musings. When the crescendo sustained chorus returns, there is a sense of wonder, of glee and of unrestrained pleasure. A simple yet positively incendiary fret solo torches this mournful yet happy song to explosive elevations. I could listen to this endlessly. A dozen minutes long, "Lust" is the dirty song on the menu, fired by a somewhat lewd and heavily Genesis flavored intro, as soon as Christina steps up to the 'phone, it turns 180 degrees into the area Close to the Edge of Fragile (if you see what I mean!) and convincingly! I would love to hear a Yes album with her singing instead of Jon! "Confess! Confess!" she howls, Ok, OK, I will: it's really stunning music! Now that the synth liberates itself all over the guitar, the drums scowling ungraciously at the proud purring bass, you know that this is Prog Heaven (a la Neuteboom), a masterful track that is just YES YES YES. "Greed" serves as the proverbial "cigarette" after the fall, getting a sensible grip after all that sexually lusty prog, the longest tune here, focusing more on the meaningful vocals and the very innuendo-laced sentiments expressed (the sardonic repetition of "for me"), with a multitude of melodic ornamental details that add frill and lace to the dripping sarcasm. Read the Reed lyrics and you will enjoy this tragic-comedy even more because a casual ear will miss the subtle point. "Anger" is a short and bittersweet display of contrasting solo and choir vocals, stripped down bare arrangement, a heart stopping exhibition of unrestrained passion with a sweltering bluesy guitar passage loaded with shivering grace. "Pride" is a return dive into the progressive volcano, at first effervescing in multiple swerves and dekes, after which a flourishing bass guitar parades the crew into comfortably positive territory, adorned by zipping guitar sorties that remind one of Howe's well deserved legacy and influence. The woop-woop-woop synth solo is smile inducingly outrageous, the lads are almost outyessing Yes and I guess the caped one would be rightly proud! "Every time the sun shines down on me, yeah". Excellent record and I fail to comprehend why a profane would not admire such well-crafted brilliance. "Sloth" is the finale that, as the title implies starts very, very slowly, a deliberate buildup with a bombastic chorus and luxuriant orchestrations curtaining the stage. With only her trembling voice and piano tinklings in the background, one realizes that we have somewhat of a winner here. A limpid Fry solo unzips the emotion and sets free the soaring plea "Let your light rain down". Gitche Manitou, take me to your land. Yeah, take me to Prog Land, baby. SEVEN, yeah seven stars, oh sorry.there are limits after all. five sinful stars.
tszirmay | 5/5 |

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