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Renaissance - Prologue CD (album) cover

PROLOGUE

Renaissance

 

Symphonic Prog

3.68 | 299 ratings

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3 stars Really good moments and really bad moments

I'd actually put the rating somewhere between 3 and 4 stars (closer to 3), as there is a lot to like on this offering from Renaissance - but, as has been observed, it is somewhat uneven.

The title track is a nice combination of piano-driven 1970's rock - almost archetypal! There is much here that reminds me of later Camel material (especially "Slow Yourself Down"), aspects of the music that echo some of the music from Jesus Christ Superstar (which is NOT a bad thing!), and piano playing that is obviosuly intended to mimic Rakhmaninov initially, but heads into Bach territory around 3:30 - which is a bit of a pity, as this gives a Spinal Tap feel that you can't take seriously. Around 4:00, Annie Haslams' vocal leads a sparse, jazz-like section that sounds like it might have been at home in one of those "art" movies that feature naked female vampires... you know, the ones we never watch... Overall, a very enjoyable, if uneven piece.

Kiev starts with another piano intro that has shades of Emerson. Again, the music takes on the piano-driven feel - a kind of half lounge jazz, half boogie, but very MOR. Good music for driving on a Sunday afternoon - if you can get over the semi Eurovision song- contest feel of the first few minutes. It does move into more progressive territory, in which the piano dominates, which has a kind of simplified ELP feel to it. Fortunately Renaissance stick to strong melodies and avoid too much dissonance. Unfortunately there are moments of vocal intonation which are somewhat on the flat side. The vocal textures are very good, with intuitive harmonies - although I find the over-using of the raised 3rd at the end of each phrase to be a little wearying; On the whole, this section trundles on nicely in a minor key, but the third is raised at the end of each phrase to make the final chord of the phrase a major chord. As a final gesture, this could have been made to work nicely, but as a recurring device, it loses momentum quickly.

Sounds of the Sea begins almost laughably predictably with recordings of waves, seagulls and boats, then the piano starts into a kind of pastoral ditty with plenty of 6ths to soften the overall tone. Annie Haslam's pure tones ring out beautifully, creating a pleasant serenity - intonation again tends to be an issue, even though she covers well will a little finishing vibrato. That said, this is a beautifully serene piece.

Intonation plagues Spare Some Love, which has a more conventional pop/rock song format to start with, but ventures off into a nice groove around 2:30, which the piano somewhat predictably picks up. This piece smacks of a band trying to find its own groove, and drags the album down as a whole, since you can feel that the band do not seem to be wholly into it.

There is a much stronger organic feel to Bound For Infinity, on which percussion is kept to a bare minimum for a very serene experience.

Finally, Rajah Khan opens with a heavy guitar providing a very psychedelic 60's middle eastern kind of feel, with feedback and basic Hendrix-style finger tapping. This is obviously all done for effect and not for some kind of virtuosic display, and works fairly well without venturing too far into Spinal Tap territory.The effect Renaissance seem to be looking for is not entirely successful - but taken in it's own right, this is an enjoyable piece, and enters a nice groove - although this style was more successfully exploited by bands of the psychedelic era.

All in all, a pleasant album, nice for chilling out to occasionally, but nothing that will really give the analytical mind much to feed on.

A definite 3-starrer, with consideration made to the stronger moments which lift this album slightly above the average.

Certif1ed | 3/5 |

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