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Collage - Moonshine CD (album) cover

MOONSHINE

Collage

 

Neo-Prog

3.99 | 276 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars COLLAGE's Moonshine is full of very memorable music. There are many 'hooks' that haunt the listener hours and days after walking away from it. Containing some symphonic elements, this masterpiece of NeoProg has a few shortcomings, namely the vocals are, at times, weak, and some of the keyboards that were 'leading edge' technologically in 1994 are almost embarrassingly out-dated today. Still, the bombastic music, rare treat of frequent synthesizer-electric guitar interplay, and defining appearance of the screaming, infinite-sustain Mirek Gil guitar sound (which is, IMO, one step above that of the Master, Steve Hackett--whose "Spectral Mornings/Every Day" sound Gil was so obviously inspired by).

1. "Heroes Cry." What a memorable, bombastic introduction! And it all begins with the album's major strength (Gil's screaming guitar) and weakness (vocals). At 1:10 the poppy bridge and chorus first appear. At 3:50 we get our first treat to the talented keyboard player as he echoes himself before engaging in the playful chase-and-duel pattern so often explored with Gil's guitar. (Could it be that Gil's soli are, in fact, improved and enhanced--his efforts augmented--by the challenge and presence of the keys?) Prog doesn't get much better that this, folks! A very memorable, haunting song. 9/10

2. "In Your Eyes" opens with the dated synths to about 1:00 when piano and acoustic guitar interplay take over to back the vocal. At 2:36 a very Hackett-esque guitar riff leads to a very "Wind & Wuthering" feeling section of chords and acoustic guitar. 4:30 sees the arrival of a very high, squeaky guitar solo; at 5:30 the song shifts dramatically, till, at 6:25 the song shifts back to the Hackett-esque, "Spectral Mornings" feel. At 7:10 we see a return to previous themes until at 8:35 the song takes another completely different shift with sequencer, synthesizer, and bass taking over until 9:10 when Gil's screaming guitar rejoins. A vocal highlight occurs at the 10:25 mark with an electric guitar supported "here tonight" peak, followed at the 11:30 mark with a low register key & synth solo over some very nice drum work. Tempo picks up again at 12:00 until a stop at 12:45. Whereupon the song plays out with the very enjoyable interplay of keyboard and electric guitar. 7/10

3. "Lovely Day" uses piano and synthesized strings to establish a slow, almost poppy mood for the first three minutes. The 3:05 mark sees the most interesting development of the song with piano arpeggios followed by some electric guitar-keyboard 'gunfire.' Otherwise, a not very memorable song. 6/10

4. "Living in the Moonlight." A favorite among proggers, undoubtedly for it's Hackett-like, "Please Don't Touch" feel as well as its lyrical content. Gil's guitar work is rather subdued and moved more into the background. The "when I feel silence" sees the song shift into a higher gear of intensity, and then higher again when Gil begins his Hackett-esque solo--which he makes his own beginning at the 3:10 mark. 8/10

5. "The Blues." The highpoint of the album. Gil's guitar screams out the defining melody from the first note and climbs, with the help of some wonderful band support, to an amazing beginning song solo before dropping away at the 0:54 mark in lieu of the vocal section--a great vocal dislay, with very powerful delivery of some powerful lyrics. Great full-band interplay and support throughout this amazing song. 4:35 begins the Mirek Gil display. This is the song where he leaves Hackett in the dust and establishes his own ascendancy. Great drum and key support. I do not think that this song could be improved upon. A song for the ages. 10/10

6. "Wings in the Night" takes the first 2:25 to establish itself (fairly weakly) before finally letting some energy show (briefly). The song rather lacks from consistency--bouncing from quiet to dynamic and back again over and over while the vocals go on trampling over all parts indiscriminately. At the 7:10 mark Mirek Gil is finally set free--and boy! does he soar! The final four minutes of the song nearly make up for the floundering first seven (even if there are several moments where one might think you were in Steve Hackett's "Spectral Mornings"). 7/10

7. "Moonshine" begins as if playing Phil Collins' "I Don't Care Anymore" until at 0:46 Gil steps in and lifts it into another world--his own. Still, it takes three and a half minutes until the song finally establishes a consistent self identity--which it does, at a very high level, too. 8/10

8. "War Is Over" is vocalist Robert Amirian's rather pop-anthem contribution to the album. Very simple structure and repetitive lyric make for a somewhat disappointing song. The only real progginess comes in the song's end when Amirian's accordian ushers us out of (the) Moonshine. 6/10

9. (Bonus Track in 2003 remaster) "Almost There." This is a GREAT song. Too bad it wasn't on the original release (instead of "War Is Over"), otherwise this may have helped earn the album the five star rating it feels like it deserves. I LOVE how the vocals, keyboards and bass pace this song. Powerful! For once Amirian's lyrics (repetitive as they are) and delivery work! They provide a great vehicle for an all-out band jam?which could easily (and even happily) have ended at the 3:05 mark. But it doesn't! Instead, we are treated to one more minute of bass and drums pounding beneath Mirek Gil's superlative, screaming guitar and Robert Amirian's (background) vocal screams. Wow! 10/10

Without "Almost There" the album is a definite four star "classic"--and excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection. With it . . . ?

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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