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


David Minasian


Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 164 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Great God Almighty - where on earth did this one appear from?

Entitled Random Acts Of Beauty, never was a title more fitted to the music contained therein, because this is simply exceptional and has taken, for me, the lead in the race for album of 2010. It all actually starts with the lead contender of album cover of the year, featuring a beautiful lady against a lovely canvas.

David Minasian's old chum, the great Andy Latimer, provides guitars for the opening track, Masquerade, and, well, what an exceptional sound is produced. A track which has soaring guitars, clever piano and other keys, wonderful rhythm, and such an uplifting feel to it, you really are transported to a higher plain listening and immersing yourself in it.

So, can this feast to the ears be replicated on the remainder of the album? The answer, I am extremely glad to report, is a resounding yes.

Other reviewers have identified influences such as Camel (the obvious one) and The Moody Blues, and whilst these are definitely present, I actually think that to describe this work as being somehow retro would be extremely unfair and inaccurate, because what Minasian has created here is nothing less than a modern symphonic masterpiece. In fact, the utilisation of all the instruments on this, including quite the most magnificent woodwind, orchestral keyboards & piano, and some wonderful guitar work from both Latimer and Minasian Junior make this, to these ears, akin to a classical music suite transposed to the rock arena - this, of course, being what the finest symphonic acts of the "classic" era did.

There is a lot of symphonic prog about at the moment. Some of it goes from the unashamedly tribute/retro (i.e. Transatlantic) to knowing nods (Kaipa). Much of it is wonderful, but with this effort, I found myself transported to a completely different level. The second track, Chambermaid, is misleading in its apparent simplicity, because, in reality, what is created is quite the epitome of melodic symphonic prog.

Storming The Castle starts off with a medieval folk passage that wouldn't be out of place on a Blackmore's Night album, and the harpsichord and woodwind playing is pure classical symphonic folk. Quite utterly stunning (I'm sorry about the superlatives, but I can't help it!), the track then morphs, completely unexpectedly, into a hard riff dominated by growling guitars and swirling synths, backed by a strong rhythm. This man can rock as well as orchestrate, and I can assure all lovers of hard/heavy prog that he does it very well. Definitely reminiscent of Rainbow in their pomp, but without being at all copyist.

Blue Rain slows proceedings down again. Seven and a half minutes of hauntingly, achingly, beautiful music, backed by moving and clearly deeply personal lyrics. The guitar solos produced simply has to be heard to be believed, and there is also more very clever use of woodwind.

The longest epic is Frozen In Time, and opens with bombastic synths, before, again, the oboe, piano, and electric guitar combine with percussion and bass to produce an uplifting, toe tapping wonder. This track clocks in at over fourteen and a half minutes, and, as one would expect, contains many time and mood shifts, but the musical movement is never anything less than soaring, and there is more very clever guitar (acoustic & electric) work contained in this. We also have the finest piece of church organ playing since the mighty Wakeman stepped up to the alter in Awaken on Going For The One. A huge riff out greets the second half of the track, and the clever manner in which the tempo and atmosphere of the music is changed in an instant is achieved so deftly that I can only think of one other maestro who could do the same so effectively - Mike Oldfield, because this soon melts away back to the mood and tempo of the opening section. The playing really is astounding. As guitars, piano, and woodwind bring the piece to a close, a completely wordless song speaks volumes.

Summers End begins peacefully with sorrowful vocals, piano and harpsichord, all creating a melancholic sound, but not darkly melancholic. The album is too uplifting for that. The track features some extremely good sampled and acoustic guitars and synthesiser work. Overall, a beautiful love song that seems to deal with love lost, but one that brings hope for whatever is to come.

The closer, Dark Waters, is a quiet and thoughtful instrumental which, again, produces quite the most haunting woodwind and keyboard work, before expanding with another massive guitar break. The denouement, in the finest tradition of the best classical pieces, fades away almost silently with piano to leave us wondering just what a journey the composer has taken us upon, and, crucially, why is it over?

I know that it is difficult for people to commit their hard earned money to a brand new album from someone most will not, it must be honest, have ever heard of, and especially when there are so few reviews upon which to make a judgement. Well, it really has to be a matter of trust.

For my money, if you buy no other album in 2010, make it this one. This is an album which will still be played on the Lazland deck in many years time. This is an album of such outstanding power, beauty, and powerful beauty, that it simply cannot be ignored and allowed to be quoted as some form of "cult" following.

This album deserves the support of everyone who calls themselves a prog fan, and is, in my mind, an absolutely essential masterpiece of modern symphonic rock. I am a little bit more sparing with 5 star ratings than I was. Not with this one.

5 stars. A masterpiece of progressive rock music. Buy it.

lazland | 5/5 |


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