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David Minasian - The Sound of Dreams CD (album) cover


David Minasian


Symphonic Prog

4.06 | 43 ratings

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5 stars Beauty, eloquence & pace. Three words that define David Minasian's new release, the long awaited follow-up to 2010's masterful and rather aptly titled 'Random Acts of Beauty', a work that met many standards of excellence, appreciated by critics and loved by fans of melodic symphonic prog. In fact, if he would have a magazine to his name, it would be called "Melody Maker". Ten years is a long time, but it was well worth the wait. The father and son team of David and Justin Minasian have beefed up the guest list (the previous opus had the great Andy Latimer on board) by adding names that might ring a tubular bell: Steve Hackett, Justin Hayward, Annie Haslam, Billy Sherwood as well as drummer Geof O'OKeefe, PJ Olsson (Alan Parsons) and Julie Ragins on vocals , among others.

This is symphonic prog at its best, featuring whopping melodies that inundate the stage with ornate piano, shimmering waves of mellotron, sizzling guitar interventions, as well as first rate vocals that underpin the beauty of the arrangements. This common theme envelops all 12 tracks here, even though they may vary stylistically but never in purpose. If you are a fan of melodies that grab your spirit and soothe your soul, look no further than this sublime work of art. The biggest impressions though remain the consistency, the pace, the subtlety, the variety and the excitement of the material presented.

Kicking things off with Justin Hayward is not a surprise as David has had quite a long career in dealing with the Moody Blues, and on "The Wind of Heaven (Prologue)", the mood (pardon the pun) is set for the entire album, a majestic 8 minute epic of grandiose proportions , carving out a flute, acoustic guitar and mellotron melody (never a bad combination) that showcases a typical Hayward vocal delivery, that unusual quality of strength and softness first heard on 1967's 'Nights in White Satin' (53 years ago, gulp!) . The symphonic aura presented here is purely breathtaking, never saccharine or poppy as the piano tingles the spine and the choir support the theme.

"All In.." is led once again by David's romantic piano, and enough pastoral twists and turns to keep the flow going, crested by a forceful and dramatic chorus led by his son's shivering guitar , a very obvious nod to early Voyage of the Acolyte Steve Hackett's style, where acoustic and electric guitars court the mighty mellotron swirls. Obsessively beautiful, utterly intense, totally seductive.

A brief bucolic instrumental, with flute and piano as leads, "Faith Hope Love" lays down another gem. David, Justin, bassist Kerry Chicoine and Geof have the time of their lives on their instruments, tight in unison.

As I stated earlier, the pace of this album is a remarkable attribute, as each piece has its own spine tingling attribute, no better example that "The First Movement" of the Title track, the microphone in the magnificent hands of Annie Haslam , who quite possibly delivers her finest vocal ever, ably supported by Mr. Hackett and his legendary sustain- laden electric guitar, the Sound of Dreams, indeed! She hits notes that are unfathomable, choir mellotron only adding to the grandiose nature of the song. Gulp! "The Second Movement" showcases the thick bass of Billy Sherwood, in a blistering and bombastic interlude that ultimately leads to the "Third Movement", where Mr. Hackett gets to let loose once again on his golden Gibson, the thin arc of light squarely on him and he just kills it, as one would expect from the legend. This is right up there with Firth, long, overwhelming and ravaging. And to think, we are only halfway through, I find myself already kneeling at the shrine!

David Minasian is a spectacular keyboardist, composer and arranger but he also is the owner of a hushed voice that can rival anyone, incredibly unique and expressive. "Road to Nothingness" offers up a slew of keys (even some harpsichord bits), slithering guitar interventions where Justin Minasian shines once again. but above all, a voice that was built for that melody, evoking the spiritual mood of the lyrics and the luxuriance of the arrangement.

Another melody from left field , the Julie Ragins-led "Room with Dark Corners" veers into a completely different realm, a classic prog-folk piece ( a la Karnataka, Panic Room, Mostly Autumn) that presents the contrast between loveliness with a more forceful passion, a wicked guitar solo and a grandiose chorus. She belts it out with conviction. Fine piece of work.

The melodic recipe keeps giving, as piano, mellotron and David's whispered voice exults on "Hold Back the Rain" , a gentle and poignant breeze that features a Justin Minasian guitar slice, all wrapped up in elegant simplicity. The rain finally does arrive.

The massive and highly symphonic 13 minute+ epic "Twin Flames at Twilight" is ushered in by a delicate acoustic guitar, weaving a tight, almost medieval tapestry, garnished with woodwinds as it progressively morphs into huge squalls of mellotron that yearn to define the main melody. If one would replace David's voice with Dave Cousins of the Strawbs, it would sound like something right out of the Hero & Heroine /Ghosts era. But then, something truly unexpected kicks in, a raunchy, distorted guitar onslaught that sizzles like some incendiary device, Justin Minasian displaying his considerable axe skills? Oh dear! The fury stops on a dime, before the acoustic charm resurfaces, windswept keys in tow, as the main pastoral theme returns, a luminous lead guitar soaring high into the Twilight. A final vocal sets this one to bed. Simply wonderful exit on the acoustic guitar. Bravo!

Perhaps a change of pace is in good order, especially after that mammoth extravaganza, so a more accessible song is next up. PJ Olsson has an expressive voice (He has worked with Alan Parsons Band), that works well on ballad -paced material and this certainly fits the bill.

So how do we end this colossal work, you ask? How about a reprise of the opening track but replacing Hayward with Haslam! Place the microphone within a 10-minute package and hear Annie just modulate that magical voice, there is a reason why she remains the undisputed 'grande dame' of female sung progressive rock. It helps when the melody kicks royal behind, as a slippery guitar lead clears the road ahead, keyboard dynamics ever-present.

The attention to detail in creating an exhilarating set-list, the consistency of the melodies within a symphonic framework, adorned with occasional diversions are the hallmarks that make this such a consummate work. The guests shine like the sun at zenith and the listener gets to hear the "Sound of Dreams". What more can you ask in this dreaded year of the Silent Nightmare?

5 Echoes of Aspirations

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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