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


David Minasian


Symphonic Prog

3.90 | 139 ratings

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5 stars Well, it took me long enough to get this one, after a fair amount of hesitation mostly due to a slew of 'need to haves' before taking the plunge. The generally glowing reviews have helped as well as listening to a few samples on the artist's website. I, like my esteemed colleagues Lazland and Tarcisio Moura, really didn't expect this album to be as rewarding as it is. While I unsecretly enjoy 'beautiful' music, I am always leery of too much mellow saccharine in my sympho-prog, so I did hesitate a bit after seeing the corny artwork. Lazland's recent evaluation pushed me over the edge and I am really glad that I read other reviewers opinions and let myself be influenced by them.

One only has to wait a few seconds before guest guitarist (and Minasian friend/idol) Andy Latimer unleashes one of the most inspiring axe solos on recent memory, a soaring, emotive and trembling execution of spiritual guitar bliss. 'Masquerade' is a dozen minutes of unpolluted symphonic gratification, expertly structured with a transcendent middle section where the piano, the cruising guitar and stocky rhythmic riffs collide in unanimity, all propelled by a sturdy bass and drum foundation. Added ornamental oboe increases the pleasure multi-fold. Andy also supplies the distressed vocals throughout, a profoundly sensitive expression of melancholia that truly is overwhelming.

'Chambermaid' is a tender ballad that is the only slightly weaker moment here, a nice song and pleasant playing throughout that reek of the Moody Blues style, saved by some dual guitar work that is clearly out of the norm and some effective lyrics. The loopy synthesizer also duels nicely with the fret boards, the melody is fabulously animated.

The two-faced track 'Storming the Castle' is a precise portrayal of underlying value of this artist as his luminous piano playing throughout elevates the material beyond the superficial and the bland, providing the ideal foil for blood relative Justin Minasian to scour the guitar horizons with a multitude of inspired solos. It starts out tranquil, pastoral and medieval, suddenly evolving into a harder/hyper climate full of conflict, contrast and delirium. The fear of new age Kitaro-style pap flies right out the window!

The subdued 'Blue Rain' certainly is a perfect case in point, metaphorical ivories coating the cerulean arrangement, anchoring a gorgeous sequence of guitar leads, enormous orchestrations and celestial vocals of the loftiest caliber. If audiophiles seek out impeccable sonic splendor in a quixotic setting, this track will do it, an achingly suggestive musical exploration that numbs the senses. A tremendous cello addition finishes off this amazing and uplifting track.

The ambitiously symphonic and all-instrumental 'Frozen in Time' dishes out the entire gamut of implements in David's arsenal, from lute to flute, from clarinet to cornet and adding church organ strategically only to stamp this with complete prog authority. All the usual suspects play an equally important role with thrilling piano parts, excited guitar explosions, rumbling bass throttles and punchy accentuating drums. The arrangement ebbs and flows accordingly, with darker organ swaths morphing into a breathtaking acoustic guitar section that is to expire over, the underused beauty of the glorious harpsichord seeping into the fray with ease. The pace explodes into a raunchy riff that has uncanny hints of Gentle Giant's classic 'A Cry for Everyone', a bruising, oily and gritty guitar rant that is excruciatingly aggressive under the unexpected circumstances. Flailing drums and haunting mellotron provides the 'coup de grace'. The next immediate segment has an almost country/pastoral feel, with ostentatious oboe musings amid piano caresses and synthesized wisps.

The luscious 'Summer's End' continues the glorious forlorn melody carved out on 'Blue Rain', a deeply sorrowful lead guitar appears relentlessly out of the indigo hurting but the acoustic guitar weaving merges with the flamboyant piano, the howling mellotron and the grandiose synths.

The amazing 'Dark Waters' conjures aquatic images of power and serenity, the ocean's yin and yang imagery perfectly expressed by rivulets of oboe and woodwind that collide with gales of mellotron, guitar whitecaps and waves of rhythmic fury.

While there are many who prefer a harder edged type of symphonic'prog a la Anekdoten, Anglagard and Porcupine Tree, there is always a time and a place for gorgeous arrangements that have substance and emotive power. Yes, this stuff is romantic, prosaic, dreamy, surreal and melancholic but its chock full of eye-brow raising moments that are frankly unexpected. The piano playing alone is worth the effort to add this into one's collection but the quality is definitely there in terms of sympho-prog standards. This is one of those albums that has a definite feminine appeal, ideal to cuddle up with and have the little lady in your life tell you that its very beautiful music! Now how can THAT be bad?

5 arbitrary steps

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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