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Renaissance - Scheherazade And Other Stories CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.31 | 1076 ratings

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Mr. Mustard
5 stars Renaissance reached their creative peak with the symphonic-bathed Scheherazade and Stories. The past few albums have been known to incorporate plenty of symphonic moments, including heavy use of the piano, but Scheherazade and Stories takes it to a new level with lush environments based on fully blown orchestral arrangements. Perhaps the few most noticeable things about this album is it's deep, symphonic atmosphere, coupled with its sometimes gentle, sometimes aggressive melodies, all of which perfectly blend complexity with alluring hooks.

The middle two tracks, 'Vultures Fly High' and 'Ocean Gypsy,' are great in their own right. The former is short, but is filled to the brim with energy and some heavy bass lines and wild piano playing, while the latter is built on strong vocals from Annie and a melody which is probably an allusion to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2.

But the real meat of the album is in the two longer songs that bookend the album. 'A Trip to the Fair' is one of those perfectly crafted songs. Its structure is diverse, yet easy to grasp after only a few listens. It opens with some lengthy free piano work before settling into a nice little theme upon which vocals eventually enter. There is also a nice little jazzy interlude in the middle which contrasts nicely with the classical nature of the whole song. Perhaps what I like most is the perfect balance between repetition and newly established ideas throughout.

The title track is a whopping 25-minute, and acts as more of a suite of smaller songs, but still works flawlessly as a whole. There is a lot going on in the song, but the melodies are easy to get a grasp on due to the relatively simple, and dare I say catchy, nature of some of them. So in no way is the song overblown due to its size like many other lengthy prog songs are. Furthermore, the orchestral arrangements are absolutely stunning to the point where they more than justify the label of Symphonic Prog.

I truly believe this album challenges some of the greats of classical composers in terms of arrangement and sound, but with a more rocking inflection. Melodically rich, and lush in atmosphere, this is a must have for Symphonic Prog fans.


Mr. Mustard | 5/5 |


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