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Magenta - Revolutions CD (album) cover

REVOLUTIONS

Magenta

 

Neo-Prog

3.54 | 135 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars It's always great when you get a debut album from a band that already has so many of their defining characteristics and sound in place! For those unsure of the band, Magenta combine an adult/contemporary pop/rock sound balanced with vintage 70's progressive influences and modern Neo Prog arrangements to create a lush and sophisticated sound. The band at this stage was built around masterful writer/arranger Rob Reed, also a top notch musician, and their main drawcard, the lovely Christina Booth, who's delicate and commanding vocals float between reflective, wistful and confident. The wavering and soulful tone of her distinctive voice places her so far ahead of the numerous other female prog vocalists. Chris Fry would also eventually become a fully integrated member of the band from here on.

I love the sheer guts and determination it shows when a band releases a double concept album as a debut, and then fills it with four epic pieces (running from 19-25 minutes each) with only a couple of shorter interludes to break it up! Although formatted like Yes' `Tales From Topographic Oceans' with 4 vinyl side-long pieces, which was a demanding and complex listen that required endless plays to appreciate, `Revolutions' is instantly catchy, accessible and highly melodic, while still retaining an ambitious symphonic and classical grandness.

Listening to the album I'm occasionally reminded of albums like `Scheherazade' by Renaissance with the orchestral grandeur and occasional folk leanings, while the keyboards have an upbeat snap like early Pendragon. There's some early 70's Genesis-like pomp and majesty, but Christina's (and Rob's occasional) vocals keep everything very grounded and relatable. Rob and Chris share guitar duties, ranging from placid acoustic beauty to epic and soaring soloing tastefully implemented with commendable restraint at only the most appropriate times. Rob's thick bass punches through perfectly throughout, while Tim Robinson displays endless variety of subtlety and bombast with his drumming. There's beautifully timed and masterfully executed reprises during the long pieces, which never get repetitive or feel overstretched. I especially love many of the shimmering piano solo spots too.

Lyrically `Revolutions' takes many influences from medieval history, poetry, Christian beliefs, old literature and sci-fi, with the main four unrelated pieces on the album brought together with the reprising theme of `Faith'. `Children Of The Sun' deals with placing belief and hope in the natural elements to provide for our every need. `The White Witch' is a gothic fairytale of a woman feared as a witch for having faith in things that others don't understand. `Man and Machine' deals with the consequences of putting too much faith into man-made objects/modern technology at the risk of the soul, while `Genetesis' is a dark science fiction/horror tale of `revolutionizing' faith through genetic tampering, the evolution of a perfect God created purely by man, and replacing true Divine Beings in the process of evolution. Heavy stuff in parts, but endlessly fascinating and thought- provoking. It's certainly one of Magenta's more lyrically heavy-going albums!

One thing I found a little disappointing inside the CD booklet is a comment from Magenta mainman Rob Reed:

"Imitation is the highest form of flattery. This album is the product of a life of influence by my favourite bands. It is an attempt to recreate the magical flavours which they refuse to serve to us today. Any similarities or coincidences with any band past or present is entirely intentional!"

I believe Rob sells himself short with this comment, because from this I was expecting a mere tired retread of every Genesis, Renaissance, Yes/Rick Wakeman, etc album. But what he and the band have done on `Revolutions' is combine little elements of these artists into their own modern and distinctive style seamlessly. This is no clich'd rehash of past bands, it simply takes the best elements of those greats and incorporates them in an original and memorable way. You'll find occasional moments that make you instantly think of those above mentioned bands, but never at the expense of Magenta's own identity and style.

I also believe a band like Magenta could quite easily tap into a stronger female fanbase, as their lyrics are often romantic, full of longing and relatable everyday emotions with a heartfelt and confident female front-woman. There's rarely any over-reliance on bloated soloing, instead going for quiet emotional subtlety and well-executed complexity. More streamlined and straight-forward albums like their later `Chameleon', `The Singles' and some of the more simpler tracks from their album `Seven' like `Envy' and `Anger' also highlight their accessible potential.

Magenta would eventually move away from many of the more overt 70's influences in their early work as they refined and properly progressed their sound, so it makes `Revolutions' even more special and unique in their back catalogue. Fans of modern symphonic bands with female singers like Glass Hammer, Par Lindh Project and Cirrus Bay would be wise to check out this sumptuous and masterful blend of the old with the new, from a special band that continues to be the leaders of the female fronted progressive bands and the masters of adult rock and modern symphonic/Neo prog.

An easy four stars!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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