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Refugee - Refugee CD (album) cover

REFUGEE

Refugee

 

Symphonic Prog

4.11 | 133 ratings

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Gatot
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A Review by Rizal B Prasetijo (updated 5 April 2008)

"You have not visited Paris until you visit Tour Eiffel" and "You have not heard Patrick Philippe Moraz until you listen to Refugee". Thanks to my prog friend Gatot Widayanto Hidayat who kindly lent his CD for the review (I actually own the album's vinyl version, but as my phono stage has been out of order for quite sometime, I can't listen to the "better" analog source for the review), I am convinced that the phrase is valid. Compared to Moraz's three previous albums that I have heard (Moraz' Future Memories, Moraz's Windows of Time. and Moraz-Bruford's Music for Piano and Drum), Moraz's quest on "define" keyboard liners in this album yields more skillful and intelligence sound. Indeed, the album provided him a ticket (his closest peer at that time was Vangelis Papathanassiou) to join the "super progressive rock band"-Yes in 1974, replaced Rick Wakeman, and influenced the band heavily in the making of Relayer (especially in "Sound Chaser"). It was also obvious to me that, since I inserted and spun the CD in my player, Patrick Moraz's powerful keyboards have dominated the album. Indeed, in my humble opinion, Lee Jackson's strings (bass and guitar) as well as Brian Davison's percussion liners are more compliments to Moraz's energetic, complicated, yet beautiful keyboard notes. This is somewhat ironic as both Messrs. Jackson and Davison (the two ex-members of The Nice) were actually inviters, while Mr. Moraz was the invitee to the band, following the departure of Keith Emerson to join ELP.

The album opens up with Papillon, a 5:09" composition. Moraz's fast keyboard liners (it begins with electric piano, followed up by synthesizer, then organ) provide a 1:39" intro. As there is no information about the song in the album sleeve, I think the prelude is perhaps too fast, if Patrick intends to depict a butterfly (Papillon is a French for the butterfly) in the composition, and it may be too joyful, if Moraz wants to describe Henri Charrière's fourteen year miserable life (Papillon is also the title of Mr. Charrière's autobiography when he was wrongly convicted of murder in France and sentenced to a life of hard labor at the Devil's Island penal colony) in the song. Jackson's bass and Davison's drumming fit nicely to Moraz's synthesizer liners played on a sinusoidal wave form, describing the up and down of the life of butterfly or Mr. Charrière. Could anyone here tell me whom Moraz actually wanted to portray in this song?

Someday, the second track, is a 5:02" progressive pop composition built on traditional verses-chorus formula. It depicts a person wanting to run away from his pain of life. Davison's mid tempo drumming, moving in sync with Moraz's keyboard, sets off the song for 21 seconds, then Jackson's somewhat peculiar vocal (a combination of Kayak's Edward Reekers and Marillion's Derek William Dick aka Fish, in my view) emerges. "Someday, I'll find a way, get on my feet, walk out the door, and I'll leave you all the pain that you gave to me. Wrapped up in a song and I know that", Jackson phrases wryly his emotion.

The third track, Grand Canyon (16:53"), is Refugee's musical interpretation of the grand nature beauty of the famous canyon. It is divided into five interludes (called "movements" by the band). In the first movement, The Source, the band tells the audience how the Canyon was slowly formed from the uplifting of the Colorado plateau over a 17 million years period during the proterozoic and paleozoic era via Moraz's rather slow quaver keyboard notes. In my listening, the appearance of Jackson's irregular bass beats symbolizes sudden jolts, provided the gigantic energy for the plateau to gradually rise. At 2:16, Davison's drum comes in, adding further nuance behind the creation of Grand Canyon. In my recognition, the second movement, Theme for the Canyon, starts at 3:48" when the band accelerates its tempo and Jackson's crotchet bass notes set the tone. The interlude briefly describes how the Canyon's exquisiteness has been well preserved over million years. At 5:50", Moraz's piano slows down, then Jackson's vocal emerges. "We'll swoop right up the Canyon wall. Then like an eagle down we'll fall to fly through the Canyon on a dream. See the river, crush and roar, see how it roars in the Grand Canyon", Jackson portrays the gorgeousness of the Canyon from the eye of an eagle through his somewhat eerie voice in the third movement, The Journey. Indeed, while I have been flying over the Canyon more than dozen times during my flights from the US West to East coast or vice versa, every time the cabin crew announces that the plane is flying over the Canyon, I always open my window shade, look down, and marvel it. At 9:10", the fourth movement, Rapids, sets in motion. Initially, Moraz's keyboards, mimicking the smooth flow of the Colorado river, take the lead, but he then turns his keyboards into roaring sounds, depicting the roughness of some part of the river. The transition is also supported by rising Davison drumming beats, from 40-50bpm to circa 100-120bpm. At 10:57", you could hear Moraz played complicated, but beautiful semiquaver notes. Three minutes later, Professor Jean Ristori (Moraz's bassist in Mainhorse, who is responsible for the album's polyphonic sounds recording) gradually put these semiquaver notes as background and bring forward Moraz's and Jackson's crotchet keyboard and bass liners, respectively for roughly 140 seconds. A great overdubbing! The overdubbing, in my view, also marks the beginning of the fifth movement, The Mighty Colorado. At 15:20", the tempo decelerates and 55 seconds later, the sound of Colorado river, generated by Moraz's synthesizer, fades away.

In the absence of information, I interpret Ritt Mickley, the album's fourth track, as Moraz's short musical reading on an imaginary detective called Ritt Mickley. The 5:55" instrumental composition commences with Moraz's keyboard liners played on a sinusoidal wave form, sounding like the 1970s detective TV series' theme song. At 0:58", the composition abruptly changes into a progressive jazz rock. It is followed by uplifting notes, perhaps describing how Detective Mickley enjoys his engagements in chasing criminals. Jazzy keyboard and rhythm guitar notes take over at 3:03" for almost 45 seconds. I sense Patrick Moraz put two Dal Segno al Codas afterward. He returns back to the progressive jazz rock liners played at 0:58", then jumps back to jazzy keyboard and rhythm guitar notes performed at 3:03" at the end of the composition.

Credo (the Latin for "I believe", pronounced as a statement of religious belief), the last track, is the album's most complicated and beautiful composition from the lyric, note, and beat perspectives, in my view. It portrays Messrs. Moraz and Jackson's belief on the illusion and insanity of the current life. The 18:07" song is divided into eight movements/interludes. Moraz's Steinway grand piano opens up the composition from the left channel and quickly spreads into the right channel, while his single note keyboard gently humming at the back. It is obvious for me that Moraz uses the pedal to generate Steinway's trademark forte piano sound in the beginning of the first movement, Prelude. Once the piano sound returns back to normal, Jackson's jazzy guitar rhythm gradually emerges. At 2:48", the song suddenly turns into an organ centric, followed by Moraz's keyboard and Davison's timpani, shouting each other for 35 seconds. At 4:26", the tempo changes and the second movement, I Believe (part 1), begins. "I believe the life you live you leave can't conceive an extra mortal sleeve. From near time far, we come and here we are we stay to play while upon this earthly stage and leave, to half remember tales and half forgotten lies", Jackson narrates. Having beautifully recited the illusion of the current life, the composition enters its third movement, Theme, at 5:25". Here, you could hear Patrick Moraz plays the 1820 built pipe organ, based on the 1670 technology, in St Albans Cathedral (an Anglican church located at St Albans, England, built in the 11th century). That said, I am somewhat disappointed as the album's digital recording fails to fully capture the grand of the cathedral's pipe organ ambiance. Hence, I vow to listen to this section using the analog recording once my phono stage resumes its active duty. At 7:10", the fourth movement, The Lost Cause, starts. "I believe, and you believe, and we believe we're free. And the air doesn't cost a thing but then that's only to a bird with a broken wing. Yet the wisest king of all had to leave his wisdom of the wall. The queue forms beside me as I sing my credo to a lost cause", Jackson contemptuously depicts the insanity of our current life. The most prominent feature in this interlude is the duet between Lee Jackson's vocal and Patrick Moraz's keyboard, taken place between 9:24" to 10:06". Had Professor Ristori reduced the background sound volume, the duet would have been more interesting, in my view. At 10:58", the composition goes into its fifth movement, Agitato (the Latin of agitate). Patrick Moraz puts his complicated, but beautiful semiquaver and demisemiquaver progressive jazz rock fusion keyboard liners backed up by Jackson fierce bass as well as Davison ferocious drumming in this almost two minute interlude. It describes how he has been disturbed by the illusion and insanity of the current life. For me, the Credo's fifth and seventh movements are the album's best parts. At 12:56", the tempo slows, Jackson's vocal appears, and the sixth movement, I Believe (part 2), sets in motion. "I believe the life you live you leave can't conceive an extra mortal sleeve. From near the stars, you are seen from here they're yours. To gaze a while, down to the universe and smile. As we down here, we chase the wind and jump the moon. And play a while, the game in echoed style and disregard the rules", Jackson puts forward his disenchantment on the current life. Similar to the fifth movement, the seventh movement, Variation, features Moraz's complex, but stunning semiquaver and demisemiquaver progressive jazz rock fusion keyboard liners, portraying so many problems emerges in the current life. Finally, at 17:30", the tempo slows and the final movement, Main Theme Finale, commences.

Having heard the album, there is no doubt in my mind that Patrick Moraz is one of greatest progressive rock keyboardists. I also share most observers' wishes on the band. It would be great if Refugee could produce its second album. Happy listening!

Best regards,

Rizal B. Prasetijo

A Review by Gatot Widayanto 27 July 2004

WHAT A MONUMENTAL ALBUM this one is!! NO COMPROMISE in this deal ... it's definitely FIVE SATRRRR!!! Yeah . it's definitely prog to the corner!! If you claim yourself as a prog lover, definitely you would love this album! If not, go to your prog music counselor and ask him for an advice about how great this one-album-band is! My prog gurus in my home country have agreed this band is one of great prog pioneers of the 70s. Even most popular bands / artists in my country like BADAI band, CHRISYE, GURUH, GOD BLESS, KEENAN were heavily influenced by this band especially in its nuances. This album is really legendary and it's a masterpiece!

This could only happened after the break-up of The NICE after K EMMERSON left the band. (Keith EMMERSON has some solo albums as well that should have been included in this page for review. At least, I got "Night Hawk" soundtrack and "Honky"). The remaining band members : Lee Jackson (bass, vocals ) and Brian Davison (drums) found Swiss keyboard player PATRICK MORAZ. The result? This PHENOMENAL album that you should be ashamed if you don't have it in your prog collection! Let me tell you, this album is on par with GENESIS "Foxtrot" or "Selling England by The Pound". So, why haven't you got it yet???

All tracks are excellent. My BEST track is "GRAND CANYON" where it has a kind like our home country's ethnical music (West Sumatra, Padang to be exact). And .. this track is very melodic with a very unique Jackson's voice (seems that something wrong with his nose - but it makes his voice powerful!!!). The other track of my favorite is CREDO and SOMEDAY. Uughhh . could not stop my adrenalin explode with the music this band produced. It's definitely, absolutely W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L!!!! No wonder that Chris Squire was interested with MORAZ to replace the departure of WAKEMAN from YES. And in YES MORAZ performed one great album: RELAYER (it has GATES OF DELIRIUM mannn!!! - the best YES song ever!)

I actually intended to write a long, track-by-track review of this album .. but I could not make it as my emotion blow away ..yeaaahhh .. this is truly prog mannnnn ...!!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Gatot | 5/5 |

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