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Marsupilami - Arena CD (album) cover

ARENA

Marsupilami

 

Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 56 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

hdfisch
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Very early intricate Prog and close to a masterpiece!

Edited 09/26/05!

Second album by MARSUPILAMI was an ambitious concept one about the brutality of the ancient Roman culture involving not less than eight musicians. BTW it has been produced by Peter Bardens whose band CAMEL was still waiting for their big success at that time. On ARENA the band had refined and further improved their sound by adding Mellotron, sax, electric piano, more woodwinds and percussion. But central instrument is still the Hammond played incredibly skillful by Leary Hasson covering its full potential spectre.

Apart of the involvement of more instruments the most striking difference to their debut is that the compositions on here are much less catchy and very intricate with a rather strong jazz influence at times almost towards RIO. Thus this one needs definitively a few spins to get into it. Prelude to the Arena opens the albums with a fluttery organ sound followed by narrative vocals by Fred Hasson leading to a quite heavy part with screaming, furious drumming and guitar but as well more quiet parts with e-piano, Mellotron or flute. First track is already a highlight! Second song Peace of Rome is as well a very versatile one varying between mellow, beautiful sections and more savage ones. Thereafter the very intricate epic songThe Arena is following with 13 minutes of timing and including awesome solos on Hammond and flute. Initially the track has a very oriental inspired sound developing more into a Canterbury vein. Time Shadow is the one where the sax comes into play and probably the best one with an incredibly intricate interplay between flute, sax and Hammond. It starts with psychedelic sounding spoken vocals then a dramatic intro with organ and drums which segues into a rather quiet part with flute, organ and short amazing solo on Harmonica (!) before vocals come in. This track has a very strong jazzy Canterbury touch not mainly due to the sax playing. Really an absolute highlight! The initial part of The Spring is the weirdest and oddest one of the album with a strange and disharmonic Hammond sound and a savage free jazz jamming, then it segues into a very pleasant theme on flute followed by a solo by Harmonica and the song switches more into a psychedelic folksy vein with mesmerizing vocals not unlike the band Quintessence. The final part is a reprise of the flute theme with tubular bells added on.

CONCLUSION

IMHO this album is an almost masterpiece in early Prog and an absolute essential one deserving a much higher attention than it actually has. Just the fact that I try to be more careful with giving the highest score keeps me off rating it with 5 stars (but 4,5 in real!).

hdfisch | 4/5 |

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