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Rainbow Theatre - Fantasy Of Horses CD (album) cover

FANTASY OF HORSES

Rainbow Theatre

 

Symphonic Prog

3.71 | 56 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars Wow!! I never start my review with wow. But apparently this group remains to be discovered by a lot of people, and that includes me. Talk about unearthing a gem here. Out of nowhere comes from the underworld this strange band that knows what drama is. As a matter of fact, some of their music can even be called operatic having not only a string section but also a moody wind section as well: jazzy feel on those very Spanish Conquistador dramatic themes. Yes, the music is often grandiose (sometimes bordering on the cheesy) and being somehow what Days Of Future Past should've been. Does this sound intriguing? Ya betcha!! These guys are drawing musical circles around you and they are twiddling with your unstabled brains with their incredible musical meanders and those orgasmic Mellotrons washes. For their second album, leader Browning opted for another horn section, and inside the quartet baritone singer Hoban stepped in to take the keyboards.

I am generally not an opera fan (and certainly do not like the "high culture" snobbery always present at those events), but here I will not only make an exception, we are in for a real rock opera, much more than the great Townsend threw at us into his trips and anguishes (go back to sleep, Rick!!). This music is really classical music fused with rock and might just be on the best example of fusion ever (even if I repeat the word cheesy). But the rock parts are hovering between early Crimson with a great (and much more than that) rhythm section, jazzy Spanish horn section drawing of Rodriguez-type of Aranjuez Concerto. Just flabbergasting if you let yourself taken by the waves of the music. The four tracks (two short and two epics) are gut-wrenching, fascinating, orgasmic, grandiose hair-raising (hear the Farewell of Dancer, the first epic) and yet flow so easily together to form one gigantic track. So much that the heavily rhythmic jazz rock of City Night Life simply does not shock, but actually perfectly and lovingly out-of-place, just like it was meant to be. Too bad for an excellent drum solo that lasted a minute too long, though. The title track starts on a slow operatic style but the crescendo is breathtakingly implacably progressive. Stupendous flutes with the whole orchestra pushing the oboe and other winds (the trombone gets some superb underlines), the whole thing resonates a bit like those unique and crazy Finns of Haikara (their first album really) due to the same Crimson influences but also Magma's works on choral works and interplay with rock. Stupendous, incredibly flawlessly played and written, this is nearing perfection although on the duration, not throughout the whole album, but close enough to be a masterpiece.

Just some 35 minutes-long, this album is easily the best thing to have come from down under, crushing any other pretenders by far, even (especially ;-) Sebastian Hardie. A second reissue saw the light of day in 06 (along with the never re-issued debut The Armada) with a 13-min+ bonus Browning-penned instrumental track Eagle Odyssey, which is not of the same era, recorded purposely for this album's bonus and entirely symphonic (no group or rock instruments). However it fits the album so well, that you don't even notice any difference and most listeners discovering the album now, will most likely integrate it in the album's oeuvre as if it had been there from the start. Sibelius and Strauss come to mind, when listening to this piece.

I'm not exactly sure how I should take the fact that this group was never being exposed (not even sure there are that many collectors who know of the group) and that they are finally getting exposition some 30 years later. This was obviously not a cheap record to make back then, so it is hard to understand how this group was never promoted properly. I just can't believe there are still some incredible albums that are finally getting a bit of attention some 30 years later (but this is also what keeps this old geezer up to his progressive obsessions ;-). Because music like this is only waiting for progheads to love it. One of my shocks this year!!!

Sean Trane | 5/5 |

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