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Aquaplanage - Aquaplanage CD (album) cover

AQUAPLANAGE

Aquaplanage

 

Symphonic Prog

3.44 | 35 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The first thing in noticed when I received my copy of Aquaplanage's debut disc was the band line-up. A 2 guitar (one rhythm! Hmmm!) and 2 vocalist attack , with a bass and drums section. Leader, guitarist, vocalist Robert Illesh also handles a bevy of assorted vintage keyboards as well as massive doses of flute. A somewhat unique set-up that nevertheless enchants from the get-go on "Ode to Grey Mornings" (now how British is that!), a sultry mixture of Jethro Tull , Fruupp, early Styx, Fireballet with hints of Gentle Giant (the vocal work) and Canterbury (the guitar/organ/synth interplay), keeping things masterfully upbeat and propulsive. Illesh unleashes (pun intended) a series of blistering leads with the bruising bass shining the path. With Tantalus keyboardist Max Hunt on board, the mood gets highly electronic, synths bubbling and sequencers gurgling, recalling dense prog symphonics that transcend genres. Avian sound effects put this epic to rest. The delicious "The Sands of Time" is a very successful Middle Eastern motif that immediately pleases, a clever proggy take on a little embarked style with astute vocals, both voices contrasting nicely within the Arabic orchestrations. A sheer prog classic in many ways, slashing guitars dueling with Bedouin horns, as if trying to provoke some crazed cobra into striking and spewing its venom. I stand and applaud. The lazy "Nature's Sunday" starts off deliberately soporific and minimalist, taking its sweet psychedelic time in blooming, perhaps a bit too long and too weepy but I guess there are fans out there who like to "breeze" through records (snort!). This one just doesn't fit in the scenario, regardless but then the mid-section blow-out explodes in a sudden contrast that rocks la Blue Oyster Cult., especially the dual guitar rampage plowing mercilessly ahead, a fluttering synth adding some Dominance and Submission to the events. Bizarre but edit the too long intro next time, lads! "Solara" is an instrumental, mainly keyboard exercise that opens with elegant piano, rousing organ blasts, some church organ exaltations, a searchlight synthesizer zephyr scouring the horizon, a total winner for us ivory fans! The mood rapidly enters the ponderous and wistful expanses of thoughtful ambient electronica a la Tim Blake before whistling its way back to the piano and its refined charisma. I stand up again and clap! That's twice now. The title track announces its fleeting atmospheric presence, with delightful pastoral guitar themes encouraged by a lonely piano, a somber violin and then the rest of the string quartet, an aromatic slice of progressive orchestral folk music that will thrill Anthony Phillips fans, "par exemple". I personally enjoy lushly relaxing music like this, especially when it succeeds in awakening romantic souvenirs of a bygone age. That three now, my palms hurt! "Heaven's Gate", by contrast is perhaps way more immediate in flirting with saccharine themes, a proggy Eric Carmen if you like, flush with cheesy romantic fluff that is just too corny for me. The guitar parts are sloppy, the piano redundant and the vocal, while highly polished, is Krispy Kreme in double doses. Toss this one, lads! I even prefer "All by Myself", okay? Yuck! "Song to Stand Above Them All" is frankly no better, the Styx/Journey/Saga stamp way too drippy, creating a wholly predictable mood, I mean I stopped listening to this kind of simple drivel along time ago. The dual guitars are boring attempts at Southern pickin' and the funky high-pitched vocals, you sort of wonder if they listened to the Eagles (the solo is right out of Joe Walsh territory), only the rare synth give this any color. Terrible ! They finally snap out of their temporary lapse of reason by returning to something original and melodic , the graceful "Theme' that strangely recalls the glory days of Camel, thanks to the bluesy guitar solo that would make Latimer smile. I stand but I am confused now. Guys, stick to the prog, evacuate the AOR. Which is sadly how they finish the disc, imposing another poopy piece of pop, a Christmas song for crying out loud ! "One Star". I mean please! My head shakes in bewilderment. Oh well, the good tracks are amazing but you will need scissors for this one. The next one will determine the future of Aquaplanage. Tarcisio is absolutely correct, a mystery looking for its own sound is what we have here. Barely four puzzled aquastars.
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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