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Solaris - Nostradamus Book Of Prophecies CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.15 | 198 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars I've been putting off writing this review for six months now, feeling it would be a challenge that I seldom felt up to. Well, I still don't feel up to it but Nostradamus is so good and Solaris is so underappreciated, no that's not fair, so unknown, that after enjoying Nostradamus again today as I always do, I decided enough already, I've got to tell America (and wherever) about this masterpiece, even if it might not do them any good.

I'll explain. I've written over a hundred music reviews and Nostradamus is the first and only one I've written without the benefit of the CD or album. How did I do that, you wonder? Thank God for downloading! I would buy it if I could, really I would. I did buy their freshman release, The Martian Chronicles, from a Russian vendor, which is also a gem, unfortunately it is but an Opal to the five caret Diamond known as Nostradamus.

Before we get into Nostradamus, a little background on Solaris

Hungarian progressive rock band Solaris got its start in 1980. The group was formed by the now deceased István Cziglán (guitar), Róbert Erdész (keys), Attila Kollár (flute), Attila Seres (bass), and Vilmos Tóth (drums), all school friends. They took their name from the title of book by SF writer Stanislaw Lemand and based their songs on classic science fiction. In 1984 SOLARIS released their first album "The Martian Chronicles", it sold almost 40,000 copies. Solaris did not release another album until 1990 when they released their sophomore effort simply entitled, Solaris - 1990. Sometime thereafter the Solaris disbanded, to the dismay of thousands of Progheads.

The consummate prog-rock album Nostradamus - Book of Prophecies might never have been made except the people at Progfest convinced Solaris to reform and be the headline band at Progfest 1996 in Los Angeles. Their performance at Progfest was so fulfilling that the members decided to formally reunite Solaris and dedicate themselves to the recording of a new studio album. The slightly Camelish music with lots of fantastic flute playing got the band kudos wherever they went.

The band's interest into the paranormal led them to Nostradamus who eventually became the subject of their next studio album. Unfortunately this album had to be recorded without founder member guitarist Cziglan Istvan who succumbed to a terminal disease in December 1998. He is still featured in a portion of the album, though I know not where. This album is dedicated to his memory,

Nostradamus - Book of Prophecies

Now let's get to the actual music, which is why I was reticent to take on this endeavor. I suppose Nostradamus should be considered an instrumental, though there are choirs singing throughout, in Latin however, not in English. I further suppose the music which is classified as Progressive Rock is indeed Progressive Rock, though at times it does sound like a little of many styles including New Age. How does one describe music that changes extremely not only from song to song but within songs? How does one describe songs that vacillate from Hawkwind to Therion, to Jethro Tull, to Enigma and all the time remain beautiful and intriguing? How?

"Book of Prophecies", the three part twenty minute plus extravaganza has basically the same refrain with different deliveries from simple to complex, from prog rock to operatic. Part I is a short piece predominantly new age sounding with native sounding voices then the the choir followed by a flute and a didjeridoo segueing into the thirteen minute eclectic part II. It is mostly symphonic almost operatic sounding with interludes of contemporary and new age using a plethora of uncommon instruments and chants. This music is never obtrusive, instead it's melody enfolds and embraces the listener, leading to a state of bliss. Part II seems to stop several times, each time injecting a new element into the mix, ending mildly chaotic. Part III is strongly progressive. It begins slowly and builds slowly with the flute, which has a large part throughout the album leading the way followed by strong guitar work and keyboards(synths)

In the "The Duel," flute and Hammond duel it out in a rather mild manner, picking up the pace only in the second half in yet another version of the original refrain. The next song "The Lion's Empire" builds up suspense with light flute and guitar playing leading to a straight rock interlude interspersing with a strong Progressive sound. The sixth track, "Wings Of The Phoenix", is like a battle of instruments with the flue and the guitar seeming to take the lead. Strong performances by guitar and synths lead to a great finish.

"Ship Of Darkness" another heavy progressive flute driven number, projecting mysterious images. The eighth song "Wargames" has a similar melody that was used in J.C. Superstar (I think it's actually an old Jewish melody) done progressive style, interspersed with simulated(I hope) machine gun fire and chanting of War Games. It ends with a military marching band playing to war sounds, before fading out.

Finally we get to "The Moment Of Truth" a fairly pleasant easy going song featuring our choir and some nice flute/guitar work in two parts. "Book of Prophecies (Radio Edit)" the last track is a condensed reprise of the three part beginning. Actually a great way to finish.

If you're a prog-head, you don't want to miss this one. Beg, borrow, steal or even(shoosh) downlo*d this. Just get it! This is Flag ship material!

If you're not a prog-head but you enjoy Symphonic, New Wave or even World music, this could be of interest to you, though it's probably too much trouble to try to get. It is hard to get.

semismart | 5/5 |


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