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Rainbow Theatre - The Armada CD (album) cover

THE ARMADA

Rainbow Theatre

 

Symphonic Prog

3.65 | 26 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

sl75
3 stars Here's something completely left field - an aspiring (and now established) classical composer, influenced by King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra, puts together a rock rhythm section, a horn section, and recruits a classical tenor as lead singer - the result is truly worthy of the oft-misused label 'symphonic'. The influences are openly acknowledged, and audible - here it is mainly Crimson in their most symphonic mode eg Lizard/Devils Triangle; in places (particularly in "The Darkness Motive") it sounds like ELP's music with the keyboard parts orchestrated - but it manages to sound unique thanks to the expansive orchestral arrangements, the relatively low profile of the more traditional rock instruments (we barely hear any guitar), and most particularly thanks to the vocals. Having said that, the vocals are also a problem. There are plenty of classically trained singers out there successfully performing pop/rock or other contemporary genres, maintaining their core technique while adjusting for style (eg softening their diction, phrasing differently). Keith Hoban makes no such adjustments here, maintaining an exaggerated diction and 'operatic' delivery - but that core technique isn't so great either, his voice is lacking in ring or clarity of tone, the voice seems to be well back in the throat, his vibrato is not well controlled, and his tone often seems forced. Things get even worse when he invites seven friends from the Victorian State Opera to join him in forming a choir for two tracks. Their intonation is simply hideous, especially the sopranos who are consistently flat, sometime by nearly a full semitone - they single-handledly ruin a potentially great track in "Petworth House", and detract considerably from "The Armada". I take this recording as evidence of just how much the standard of classical singing in Melbourne has improved over the past four decades - I couldn't imagine these voices getting a gig with the Victorian Opera now. Intonation is in some places a problem for the band too, particularly for the brass on "The Darkness Motive". My favourite tracks are the two short "Songs", spotlighting the solo voice and piano. I have a lot of admiration for the musical vision here. The album gets a low rating because of the sloppiness of execution, particularly from the opera singers.
sl75 | 3/5 |

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