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Refugee - Refugee CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.12 | 198 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Refugee made a real prog gem with their only namesake album: had this newborn band not been prematurely killed by Moraz's entry into the ranks of Yes, I'm sure that this power trio would have gone places with some more following albums. Well, I'm aware that this is only historical fiction, but the fact is that the spectacular endeavor accomplished in this album shows a clear indication of a mature progressive proposition: this band was born mature. The return of ex-Nice partners Jackson and Davison was completed by the entry of a new keyboard wizard, Patrick Moraz, who as a leading force was the main responsible for the direction of the band's style and the musical ideas. By then, Jackson and Davison had grown as musicians, and this can certainly be heard in their solid performance as the rhythm duo all throughout the album: and so it had to be anyway, since Moraz feels particularly loud for three reasons: 1) the energetic display of solos, orchestrations and multiple keyboard effects; 2) the bombastic complexity of the compositions; and 3) the diversity of musical sources that get comprised into Refugee's unitary sound. From the opening instrumental track it is obvious that Moraz's exquisite pyrotechnics is the band's nucleus: 'Papillon' shows us an amazingly skillful keyboardist who has massively absorbed the combined influences from Keith Emerson and Chick Corea and recycled them in his own special way. Things get a bit toned down in the symphonic ballad 'Someday', where the band's instrumentation somewhat feels closer to Procol Harum's emotional density, while Jackson delivers his sharp singing style without getting too grating. The other instrumental, 'Ritt Mickley', starts with some synth adornments that lead to the sound of glass breaking, and then the funky oriented main motif: in some ways, Moraz is announcing what he would later do in 'Sound Chaser' for the "Relayer" album, albeit with a wicked Emerson-esque twist. Last but not least, the two master opuses are the featured gems of this album. The 17- minute 'Grand Canyon' and the 18 minute 'Credo' are some of the best tracks ever recorded by a prog power trio: these guys really go places with their consistent interplaying and incendiary jamming, always led by Moraz's magic wand all along the connections between all diverse sections. Moraz's most relevant virtue is that of versatility: he can flawlessly wander from cosmic synth layers to other passages with a more constructed framework, from heavy rocking jamming to the excellence of chamber music, from jazz fusion to psychedelia. As I said before, Jackson and Davison have acquired a more refined approach to their instruments: this allows them to function as a superbly potent column to sustain the monumental sonic building provided by the Swiss wizard. Let me finish by saying that, IMHO, "Refugee" is the nicest recording Jackson and Davison had been involved with. yes, I like it better than anything done by The Nice, even though I'm a big fan of that pioneering quartet-gone-trio. It's just that, in comparison (oh, how I hate comparisons), this Moraz-led power trio stands on a higher and more solid ground.

(I respectfully dedicate this review to my friend René Osnaya, a true Emerson fan)

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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