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The Samurai Of Prog - Secrets of Disguise CD (album) cover


The Samurai Of Prog


Crossover Prog

4.00 | 134 ratings

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4 stars Multinational ensemble THE SAMURAI OF PROG first appeared in 2009 as contributors to some of the Colossus series of concept albums, planned and organized by the Finnish prog organization Colossus and released by French label Musea Records. Initially a duo consisting of Finland based, Italian musician Marco Barnard and Finnish musician Kimmo Pörsti, later with US musician Steve Unruh added to the core band. But rather than restricting themselves to the talents of those three musicians, guest musicians have been involved too. Especially when the band decided to make an album of their own. This production, "Undercover", appeared in 2011 and consisted first and foremost of cover tunes with a few minutes of original music thrown in for good measure.

Come 2013 and The Samurai of Prog returns with their second album. A double feature this time around, but pretty much set up in a similar manner as their debut album: A lot of cover tunes and a few items of original material flavoring the proceedings.

The cover tunes are bye and large enjoyable excursions into rather varied parts of the symphonic progressive rock universe. Playful Italian prog and Gentle Giant oriented material with jazzy flavoring side by side with accessible, melodic varieties of the style closer to the likes of Camel as well as a ballad from Yes and a few items of darker sounding, brooding material pulled from the archives of bands such as King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator. The Samurai of Prog generally sticks to a faithful rendition of these compositions, they don't try to revolutionize these more or less classic songs but they don't try to replicate them either. Subtle alterations is a feature for all the songs covered, with arrangement and instrument choices as well as a somewhat larger emphasis on certain instrument features or expressions the main variations given to the different songs. Sometimes to good effect and at other times not quite as much, most likely depending on just how close a relationship you have to the song in question. For me personally, their take on Aspirations by Gentle Giant lacked the magic of the original as I'm probably to accustomed to and to fond of the sheer superficial simplicity of the original, the cover version here containing a few too many details for my taste. Other pieces came across as much more charming, and most charming of all for me their take on Utopia's "Singring and the Glass Guitar". A tongue in cheek epic composition on all levels, as a fantasy fiction fan and as someone who have spent a few hours of my life playing computer role playing games this songs brought frequent smiles to my face.

But the general tendency of these songs residing somewhere in the symphonic progressive rock universe is probably the most important bit of information for those curious about this double CD, and I might also add that all the songs covered has been given if not a modern then at least more of a timeless mix and production, which at least to younger listeners most likely will make these cover versions worthwhile checking out for this detail alone.

The most impressive tracks at hand are the original ones however. Like on their debut album David Myers is at hand again with a splendid piano introduction to one of the classic pieces of progressive rock, in this case it serves as an introduction to the band's take on Genesis Dancing with the Moonlit Knight. And while it does take a bit of time to get accustomed to some of the vocal parts in it, the Gothic-flavoured dark symphonic exploration of Lovecraft's spine chilling tale about Charles Dexter Ward is another clear highlight. Previously released on a conceptual tribute to Lovecraft, but on this double CD presented in an alternative arrangement - nice.

The clear highlight for me was the playful, diverse and rather jolly Sweet Iphigenia however. From medieval folk music through vintage oriented symphonic progressive rock to jazzrock and back again, this item is a celebration of the 70's progressive spirit given a contemporary coating, and a tune I suspect was challenging, frustrating but also sheer fun to create and record. An excellent piece of progressive rock in it's own right.

All in all, "Secrets of Disguise" is a solid album by this multinational project. A taste for symphonic progressive rock is needed, and an open mind as far as cover versions are concerned, but if you recognize yourself in such a description this is a double CD that should provide you with plenty of enjoyable listening. And, at least for me, the 20 or so minutes of original material presented the proverbial icing on the cake.

Windhawk | 4/5 |


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