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Oaksenham - Conquest of the pacific CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.74 | 50 ratings

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Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars A great album with an excellent sound quality composed, arranged and played by talented musicians. what more you can ask for? It's formally a concept album, but it's totally instrumental so it can be only guessed from the tracks titles.

The bass lines together with the fact that most of the songs are composed by the bassist Vahagn Papayan give the band's sound a taste of Pekka Pohjola and Wigwam, but the flute and the violin (played by a former drummer!) add it a touch of folk, even if it's not clear from which nation. Their more folky pieces sound celtic even if they are Armenian, so from the Caucasic area that's probably one of the few places on this Earth which hasn't ever been influenced by Celts.

When the flute is not present we can hear a symphonic prog mainly made of bass, drums and keyboards with the guitar just in the back. The longest track: "The Way Back Home" mixes all those elements plus a bit of fusion with the addition of violin over an impressive bass-line. Also here the main influence that I hear (but I can be wrong) is Wigwam.

A short track like Talybont contain folk, prog and classical/medieval elements all in less than 3 minutes. The album proceeds with this mixture of unusual signatures, specially on "Time Out", then begins the suite that gives the name to the album: Conquest of Pacific. ( I don't know why part 3 is entitled "Across the Atlantic", probably they leaved from Portsmouth :)

Part 1 (Jester's pipe) is neo-classical with violin and flute later joined by the other instruments. Here they demonstrate to be a great band. Part 2 starts with harp and flute and has initially a newage flavour. Listening to it I have a lot of names in my mind, including early Clannad for the harp. Part 3 opens with a dialog between brass and "pizzicato" violin. This is mainly acoustic and not properly harmonic. After Crying are a good reference, but after a couple of minutes the tempo increases and when drums and bass are in it's quite prog-metal but the constantly changing signature make it unclassifiable. The final part of the track is back to classic with an electric coda. Organ opens part 4. This is hard to describe as it changes continuously for tempo and leading instrument. Part 5 opens with solo harp. The classical mood is suddenly replaced by the keyboard. The funky section which follows can remind to Niacin or ELP or also to Rick Wakeman's solo works of the 70s.

Excellent addition ti any prog rock music collection? It fits perfectly in this definition and is very promising as debut album. Only the tribute to "Pump and Circumstances" could have been avoided and is the least good thing of the whole album, but it's not so bad to decrease the rating. A bit more than 4 stars.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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