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David Minasian - Random Acts Of Beauty CD (album) cover

RANDOM ACTS OF BEAUTY

David Minasian

 

Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 133 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars An uplifting work of beauty that calms the raging seas of dark prog.

After hearing the latest release from David Minasian I feel my spirit has been lifted up and it brings emotional warmth, such is the power of the lyrics, the huge keyboard motifs and dynamic guitar breaks. The music is all gentle and lucid, ethereal and dreamy at times, but never too dark, rather a collection of reflective heartfelt compositions. It is easy to tell that the band members have poured their heart and soul into this album and it translates to the listener.

The album cover for a start is a beautifully realised portrait of a goddess in white with the Saturn rings and the waves ebbing around amidst a castle, perhaps an enchantress luring us into her charms, and it certainly reminds me of the album covers of more Gothic bands such as Epica or Nightwish. However there is nothing really Gothic on this album, and there are no female vocals. Instead there are conceptual songs that are rendered with fragility and serenity, beauty and tranquillity expressed in long instrumental breaks and soft vocals.

The opening composition 'Masquerade' is a master work of aural imagery. David's very soft reflective vocals are akin to Justin Hayward from the Moody Blues, which is no coincidence as David was initially inspired to get into music through hearing on the radio The Moody Blues' song 'Land of Make Believe'. David was intrigued by the style of the track with its juxtaposition of flute, guitar, melodies and mellotron and began to record similar material. He is a classically trained piano player and it shows on this album. The piano is beautifully executed throughout. The mellotron embellishments are superb and atmospheric. The guitar solo on 'Masquerade' is masterful and it comes from the dexterous playing style of Camel's legendary Andy Latimer. As a long time friend of David, Andy was happy to contribute to this track with his customary spacey lead guitar prowess. He makes that guitar cry and it lifts the melancholy mood to a new level. A synth solo follows and once again develops into a huge enhancement to the soundscape. The way the chords ascend reminds me of the uplifting sounds of Pink Floyd. One can feel the emotion in the music. At 4:36 there is a minimalist piano and then the time sig changes completely picking up the pace, a steady rock beat over multi layered violining guitars and a strong bassline. Once again the Pink Floyd style is evident. At 11:30 the vocals return after the lengthy instrumental break. The lyrics are about a girl who has walked away, a broken relationship. The guitars are so great on this final section, soaring and wailing over the wall of synthesizers. A fantastic start to the album.

'Chambermaid' begins immediately with the vocals, "close your eyes it's time to say goodnight.... don't be afraid when she turns out the light, she'll keep nightmares at bay until the break of day..." This composition has a gentle vocal delivery and the howling guitars of Justin Minasian and Nick Soto. The whole song has a centrepiece consisting of twin guitar playing and strong keyboard notes sustained beneath. This is a very dreamy lulling track, with lovely atmospherics, very different to the opening track in this sense, the guitars are more passive and poised.

'Storming The Castle' opens with a medieval feel with woodwind sounds and a pleasant piano motif. It begins slowly and then a ripping tempo crunches out, a surprisingly fresh progression from all the ambience and serenity previously. The killer riff features distorted guitar with an almost Black Sabbath type melody, 'Symptom of the Universe' springs immediately to mind. Then a blazing lead break follows until the piano adornment merges into the track. The drums and crash of cymbals from Guy Pettet joyously enhance the sound, balancing it on the edge of the precipice until the keyboards dominate again. The return of the synth riff follows and then a blistering lead guitar by Justin with frenetic arpeggios and speed picking that is a sheer delight. The exuberant speed and fractured time sig is a far cry from the works heard previously making this stand out as a rocking instrumental with outstanding riffing. One of my favourites on the album certainly.

'Blue Rain' is a work of aching beauty that brings things down again after the previous onslaught. A divine woodwind or flute sound using synth flows along the pretty piano melody. David's layered harmonious vocals chime in with some reflective lyrics of poetic beauty that really touches my emotions, "blue rain will soon be coming down, outside the weathered field shroud the parched and thirsty ground, storm clouds gather round the mountain to the West, my empty heart prepares for a futile night of rest, I lie awake without you waiting for the rising sun, wishing someday there would come a time when we could be as one, once you feel the rain you will never be the same, you can say I love you but heartaches will remain, hold me close to you hold me till the sun breaks through the clouds." I love those lyrics that portray that utter sense of loneliness when a loved one has departed or a lover has moved on. It is difficult to emulate these feelings without sounding acidic, but this song will touch many hearts who can relate to this desolate experience of loss. The drums kick in on the next verse lifting the sombre mood. The melody continues repeating some passages of words. The instrumental break is a simple formula of high Oboe or other wind instrument sounds then a gorgeous guitar lucidly flows over the musicscape. Justin's guitar has some beautiful licks and in a similar style to David Gilmour, he is able to form shapes of sound through huge string bends and subtle atonal picking. I am usually not as taken with love songs, but this track is an exception as it reaches the emotions without being pretentious; there is a striking sincerity in the lyrics and in the delivery.

'Frozen In Time' is an instrumental and the longest track clocking 14:37. It opens with a lengthy keyboard and guitar trade off, a very ambient texture of light and shade, tension and release that is well executed. The lead guitars are particularly good on this and I love the way they fade and a majestic cathedral organ takes over; a dominating and ethereal passage of ambience. The acoustic guitar picking of the Minasian brothers follows, a medieval lute is heard and a flute, a synthetic sound that is effective, chimes in. The track gets into fortissimo heavier territory at 7:20 with a soporific distorted guitar riff that is quite an intrusion breaking the tranquillity. It takes the track into a different realm like a thunder storm and then the rain falls gently, symbolised by piano scales and liquid synth flute lines. There is an airy feel with the tender nuances of layered keyboards and a playful piano collaboration. The symphonic impressions are executed as piano/clarinette and heavy guitar merges with tranquil lush synth strokes. The silky keyboard strings flow superbly along a musical stream and then a waterfall of guitars gushes forth. It is a masterful atmospheric symphonic instrumental.

'Summer's End' is next, beginning with a fragile acoustic guitar and gentle piano. The multilayered vocals are warm and inviting, "together we could mend the broken words, and fill our empty dreams again, just cast your tears out over the ocean, I walk with you through Summer's End". The next section is a very innovative instrumental break with weeping lead guitar and a wondrous synthesizer melody. It is a tour de force of melancholy nuances, acoustic and piano taking centre stage, with an emotional peak or climax in the centre piece, where the music ascends to a new horizon. The crescendo of heavy synthesizer contributes to the mystical journey of mood shifts from darkness to light. There are breaks in the music and a sudden burst of light rays through the dark clouds. The mood is saturated in sorrow but the music that builds injects a ray of hope. The fret melting lead work on this track is inspirational. A very strong definitive highlight of the album.

'Dark Waters' closes the album on a high note. It is an interplay of ambient textures, delightful piano/synth/clarinet trade offs and a heavy effect phased guitar that takes off into full flight. The atmosphere depicts rivers of tranquility on a summer's day with birds swooping over an orange sky. There are startling moments of minimalist touches where solitary piano is allowed to play. Thus the album ends on another peaceful instrumental for us to ponder on and add our own dream pictures.

The album is a work of beauty made possible by subtle keyboards and swooping washes of synthesizer. The drums crash in when necessary to represent the turmoil and breaking the isolated atmospheres. There are twists and turns where necessary but nothing overblown, nothing insensitive to the general melancholia mood. The album is wrapped in a gentle warm cocoon of harmony, without disruptive dissonance, therefore an easy listening collection of tracks to relax to. It is not without blistering guitar and drumming, with some outstanding bass lines, but the light fabric of the musical tapestry is held together with threads of piano and glowing synthesizer washes. I was pleasantly surprised and the music should appeal to a wide audience. Those who are not into the highly complex darkness of recent prog bands may find this, as I did, a breath of fresh air.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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