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Quill - Sursum Corda  CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.23 | 52 ratings

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3 stars Another seventies keyboard band that has inevitably been referred to as an ELP clone, but in this case the label is completely justified. Not only is the band almost completely centered around keyboards, but they manage to lift a good number of the riffs ELP recorded between about 1971 and 1973. Tastefully done, but lifted nonetheless. There is a bit of original material here, but not so much as you’d notice.

Credits to keyboardist Ken DeLoria though for hitting pretty much every base though: Hammond and Moog organs, ARP and RMI synthesizers, mellotron and even a grand piano and electric harpsichord for good measure. His parents must have owned a music store. Percussionist Jim Sides plays snare and timpani drums as well as some chimes, and Keith Christian plays bass as well as the few guitar licks that are on the album (acoustic I believe). The moog is more prevalent on the first half of the album then the second, while the Hammond pops up a bit more on the second half. Regardless of which is being played when, the various keyboards make up the vast majority of the instrumentation on the album.

There are relatively few vocals on the album, which is probably a good thing since the production quality of the singing is rather muddy compared to the excellent instrumental quality.

Besides ELP there are a few other bits and pieces of familiar music here. In the second movement there is a subtitled section (“the Call”) whose tempo and keyboard crescendo remind me a bit of the symphonic portions of early Kansas ala ‘the Pinnacle’ or ‘the Wall’. Bits of “Earthsplit” and “the Black Wizard” wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place on a Styx album of the early seventies either. Neither of these is particularly surprising since both Styx and Kansas were huge in the years leading up to this album and Quill was an American band after all.

But mostly this is more and more ELP, keyboards upon bombastic keyboards with layers of drums over and under the keys. From what I understand the boys in the band had a tendency to dress up in pretentious garb like robes and wizard costumes and put on flashy light shows when they played live as well, so I suppose they really were emulating the bands they grew up on.

Anyway, this isn’t too original but it is kind of fun to listen to, especially if you really dig keyboards and enjoy trying to pick apart the instrumentals to determine where the individual sounds came from. If you like that sort of thing you’ll love this album. I’m only going to give it three stars due to the lack of originality, but the musicianship is very good so I don’t think most progressive fans would be put off by the album at all; they might just not consider it a masterpiece any more than I do. Give it a spin if you get a chance though.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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