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The Samurai Of Prog - Omnibus 2 - The Middle Years CD (album) cover


The Samurai Of Prog


Crossover Prog

4.07 | 10 ratings

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4 stars Following TSOP's first Omnibus box set subtitled "The Early Years" from 2018, this new set contains the albums On We Sail (2017), Archiviarum (2018), Toki No Kaze (2019) and Beyond the Wardrobe (2020) with five bonus tracks. "We're calling this 'The Middle Years' because there's still plenty of charge left in our batteries", the core trio of Marco, Kimmo and Steve write in their liner notes. To me as a long-time listener and reviewer of TSOP, this period is perhaps their finest. Since I've reviewed each album at the time they were released, I'll only shortly quote each review and estimate how well my enjoyment of the music has lasted till today, although the perspective is naturally still short.

ON WE SAIL. "The multi-national prog-Gasthaus have now released their most mature work. This is a beautiful and perfectly balanced 65-minute set of finely crafted symphonic prog." Because so many excellent TSOP albums has come since 2017, On We Sail may not reach my Top Three any longer, but it still sounds strong and highly dynamic. I think the adventurous spirit has a KANSAS flavour here and there, due to the violin of Steve Unruh.

ARCHIVIARUM "is actually a collection of recordings made throughout the years, none of the tracks having been on a TSOP album before. It contains compositions of the musicians that they have worked with, and (more or less re- worked) tracks that originally have been released under other artists' names on the mentioned Colossus projects (the Decameron trilogy, to be more precise)." Partly because several tracks were familiar in advance, this one didn't originally appear to me as an equally rewarding TSOP release, but I have to say that nowadays it stands boldly amidst other albums. The cover of CAMEL's superb instrumental 'Ice' is wisely far from being a carbon copy. The original album had a cover of David Bowie's 'Heroes' as a bonus track, which I frankly didn't like. The decision to omit it here affects positively to the whole.

I have often referred to TOKI NO KAZE as my favourite TSOP album, and probably I still think so. "The final track featuring Elisa Montaldo is another mellow highlight. I'm simply blown away by the beauty of this fantastic album." The album opener 'A Tear in the Sunset' feels all too bombastic now, but the rest has maintained its charm wonderfully. This Hayao Miyazaki inspired album probably has the biggest amount of female vocals which I'm fond of.

BEYOND THE WARDROBE. It's only about thirteen months since my original review. "A marvelous, superbly produced album of first class retro-natured symphonic prog composed and co-performed by excellent prog musicians from various countries including e.g. Argentine, Netherlands, Italy and Japan. In fact I believe this album will be one of my biggest TSOP favourites!" Well, the subsequent new releases of TSOP and related have kept me too busy for having listened to this one very often. But yes, I greatly enjoyed it now. Relatively many classically inspired instrumentals on this one, and fewer guest vocalists (the regular TSOP collaborators Daniel Fäldt and Elisa Montaldo).

The BONUS tracks are scattered on three discs (Toki No Kaze is nearly 75 minutes long on its own). 'The Iron Mask' is a snippet from the forthcoming album of the same name by Bernard - Lacagnina - Pörsti. A tight, Kansas- flavoured prog instrumental containing also a Baroque quotation. 'Pentahedron' is very dynamically many-sided as a symphonic prog instrumental, gracefully avoiding the overblown pretentiousness. 'White Skies' is a totally different version of 'A Queen's Wish' from The Lady and the Lion, and much better. Only Daniel Fäldt's lead vocals (plus backing vocals by the composer Alessandro Di Benedetti) this time, leaving the irritating Disney fairy tale effect behind.

'Killing Hopes' sung by Elisa Montaldo is from another forthcoming album, Anthem to the Phoenix Star by Bernard - Grieco - Pörsti, composed by Marco Grieco. Pretty good song, although the acoustic instrumental section in the middle feels slightly out of place. And finally, 'Take Me Down' composed by Alessandro Di Benedetti. John Wilkinson's Gabriel-like voice underlines the heavy 70's Genesis influence.

If you haven't yet purchased these albums by The Samurai Of Prog, with this box set you can do yourself a big favour if you fancy retro-styled symphonic prog with international stellar cast and excellent production.

Matti | 4/5 |


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