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Magrathea - Legends CD (album) cover



Symphonic Prog

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Symphonic Prog Team
3 stars If I put "Legends" on in a room full of progheads, the initial reaction might be, "Is this Genesis out-takes?" Then you might hear, "No, this must be previously unreleased bonus tracks from a Fish era Marillion album." These observations would be understandable, as MAGRATHEA wears the influence of these two bands on it sleeve for this album (other recordings have some more varied influences). That is not to say that this is cloning. They do have originality to their approach, and are clearly of the modern era.

The music straddles that fine line between Neo and Symphonic. They also manage to incorporate a bit of heavier avant elements that I am so coming to love in modern Symphonic. It's not as prevalent as most of their contemporaries, but they are in tune with the times. For the most part it's just well done Symphonic/Neo prog with a very familiar feel. This may not be the thing that's going to open up a whole world of new prog for you, but it's worth the price of the CD. 3.25 stars is a fair rating for this one.

H.T. Riekels

Report this review (#134084)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars

This formation is a duo from the UK, it consists of Glenn Alexander (vocals, keyboards and bass) and Gary Gordon (guitar and bass).

About the music on this CD from 2004, no doubt this is rooted in the neo-prog tradition of The Eighties, speerheaded by Marillion, IQ and Pendragon. During my first listening session I was pleased but not really impressed but then Legends started to grow and grow. I am delighted about the lush keyboard sound (lots of flashy synthesizer runs) and the strong interplay between guitar and keyboards like in Shadows Of Ignorance (fiery guitar), Magical Box (fine moving guitarplay), Man Who Loved Flowers (bombastic with choir-Mellotron and fiery guitar), the alternating Brainwash (from harder-edged guitar runs with choir-Mellotron to twanging guitars with church organ flights) and Fear Of The Unknown (fat synthesizer sound and pleasant guitarplay). Some songs deliver more symphonic prog inspired music like Agoraphobic (lots of interesting musical ideas) in the vein of early Hackett solo and the wonderful final track Dreamscape (again wonderful keyboard - and guitar work) that features a 76-77 Genesis-oriented sound.

I had never heard of Magrathea but at this moment I am very positive about this CD, I am sure it will not only please neo-progheads but also symphomaniacs.

Report this review (#172537)
Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Despite being a confirmed Progaholic of many years standing, I rarely feel the need to write reviews. On the occasions when I have put pen to paper, it has been because, 1) I have had the misfortune to come across an utterly worthless piece of unlistenable garbage from a band who should know better, (see Genesis: Duke), in which case my aim is to warn other Proggers to avoid the recording at all costs.or 2) I discover an overlooked gem as in this case, which deserves much greater attention from the Prog world.

There are many outstanding elements to this recording. The two Multi-Instrumentalists who comprise Magrathea have clearly studied their craft and have learned the essential lesson that there is more involved in the re-creation of a lost and greatly-missed sound than endless layering of mellatrons, Gabriel-impersonations and 20-minute epics. At the very heart of the music on 'Legends', are some superb melodies around which all else has been built.

Whether deliberate or not, the 10 even-length tracks fall neatly into 2 halves - in vinyl terms you could say that the first 5 are the light side (effortless, unashamedly accessible prog, with rich melodies and sparkling instrumental passages), and the second 5, the darker side (requiring greater effort from the listener, a harder, more complex approach that pays back richly for your perseverance).

'Shadows of Ignorance' is an bloody terrific song, great harmonies and arrangements, a joy - best track on the Album, enough said!

'Magical Box' has a definite 'Your own special way' feel about it initially. Actually, that isn't a particularly flattering comparison as that track was one of the weakest on Wind and Wuthering. Magical Box is a considerably better song.

'The man who loved flowers' seems to have a fairly brutal eco-message although, as the lyrics aren't included, I'm not entirely clear about this. The music has a harder edge as befits the subject, but it isn't all dramatics and the track has a chorus to die for!

'Galadriel' is a pretty track with a precise vocal, rather too syrupy was my first impression, however it is a song that, with subsequent plays, gets its claws into you till you see it for the joyous ballad that it is.

'Brainwash' is, compositionally, not the strongest track however the musicianship and interplay between the vocal/guitar/keyboard elements is outstanding.

'Birds of fire' opens with an absolutely infectious rhythm and tight guitar plucking. When the vocal comes in, its free-flowing nature is in contrast to the crispness of the backing. Another great song.

If I had to pick a duff track on this album, it would be 'Agoraphobic', it's a personal thing but I really dislike the distorted vocal. That said, the song does develop, and there are, as in every track, some excellent instrumental passages.

'Fear of the Unknown' has a waltz-time verse that flows into a beautifully arranged chorus, and the track finishes on a blissful instrumental passage that simply makes you want to 'dive in' !

Conclusion: What we have here is melodic prog at its most inspiring. I havnt heard any of Magrathea's other recordings (3 albums I believe, but not currently available), however if 'Legends' is anything to go by they are a pair of talented, mature and complimentary musicians who have the ability to write and produce awesome prog. I believe they are currently unsigned which is little short of criminal. Similarly it would be a crime against music to let Magrathea 'get away' due to lack of exposure. Buy this album!

Report this review (#172581)
Posted Friday, May 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars The first time I heard this album I had the same feeling I got when I found Citizen Cainīs Serpents In Camouflage or Unifaunīs debut: is it the long lost classic Genesis album? Well, certainly this english duo makes no secrecy about their main influence for Legends. Apart from the ugly cover, I found this CD to be very pleasant and interesting, although - surprise, surprise! - not very original. The keyboards driven music has Tony Banks written all over it. Oh well, at least with the vocals they donīt try too hard to sound like Gabriel nor Collins.

The songwriting is fine, with some very beautiful moments on songs like Galadriel, Fear Of the Unknown and Dreamscape. But also there are some tracks on which they try to simulate some of Genesis more Whimsical side and that really does not work. Production and mixing is another problem too, since they could be a lot better. A little more atention to the guitars and drums parts would have improved their sound a lot.

If you like classic Genesis, this is sure for you. Iīm looking forward to hear Magratheaīs lastest and earlier works. Quite promising stuff. 3 stars.

Report this review (#201470)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Here's a well kept secret from the UK. For those who enjoy the more aggressive instrumental side of Marillion(Fugazi without the downer lyrics), the more progressive tracks from the Genesis _Wind & Wuthering, _And Then There Were Three_ to _Duke_ period, '78-'82 period Rush, _Black Noise_ era FM, Porcupine Tree & German synth rock(Schicke, Fuhrs & Frohling). Throw in some Pendragon, although the vocalist isn't quite as an acquired taste as Nick Barrett. Magrathea surprisingly have a gallic sound which reminds me a bit of early Ange. Magrathea also remind me of a more symphonic version an American duo called Ebeling Hughes from Detroit. Tracks _Fear Of The Unknown_ and _Reunion_ are some serious modern prog.rock classics from MAGRATHEA. The great thing about this band is that it will take several listens to appreciate their craft. Every listen, I hear something new. Magrathea is hard to get tired of. For that alone, you should be curious. Recommended.
Report this review (#211122)
Posted Sunday, April 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The third album of the English band MAGRATHEA "Legends" (2004), presents a much lighter sound than previous "Entrophy" (1999) (that I consider more in the style heavy-prog), bringing a sonority much moreclose to the symphonic-prog in the "vein" of GENESIS, YES, etc... Maybe such fact is due to two main factors, the change in the line-up of the band of a quartet for a couple Glen Alexander / keyboards, drums, vocals - Gary Gordon / guitars, bass and the lapse of time among the two disks (99/2004). Actually, this change, certainty will please in full the fans of the style in that the band this classified in P A.. The disk brings a certain nostalgic air, in almost all of the tracks, as for instance in the track 3 "Magical Box" (...that name reminds me something...) a mixture of similar themes GENESIS (... Your Special Way..) and YES (... I Get up I Get Down...). I highlight besides the above mentioned track , the track 4 "The Man Who Loved Flowers ", 6 "Brainwashed", 8 "Agoraphobic" and the track 10 "Dreamscape", however the disk all is very good, and it is not a mere copy, in spite of the great influences of the mentioned bands and I believe that it deserved a better quotation in P A. My rate is 5 stars!!!
Report this review (#300438)
Posted Saturday, September 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Here, though unknown to most people, this is a good album. Magrathea is a British band that will delight both those who love the instrumental side of the music of Genesis after Peter Gabriel, both those who love the more symphonic neo-prog from the Pendragon.

Two people: Glen Alexander, who plays keyboards, drums and percussion and sings, and Gary Gordon, who plays guitars and bass.

With this third album is more melodic sound to it compared to the previous two.

Magical Box and his guitars, with a runoff found serenity of the fund. Galadriel is a wonderful piece. A voice from the '70s surrounded by symphonic sounds that we are still dreaming of better times. Reminds me a little brainwashed 'the music of the previous album, Entropy. And Bird of Fire travels on the ELO sound that recall the early '80s.

The finish is with Dreamscape. A final album worthy of a big-time. Start with the guitar music theory, Glen Alexander begins to sing, after two minutes you can almost hear the guitar of Steve Hachette, which promises to Supper's ready, but not him, but you think he is. An island of guitars and percussion and keyboards and singing and counterpoint ... then, then you go back to dreaming. Yes, friends, this is an album you need to get.

Some pieces that were not included in this record, can be found in Legends Remain, also published in 2004. It's worth it.

Report this review (#554653)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Magrathea from UK is probably one of the most unknown prog bands from this country. Formed in mid '90s by the two remaining musicians Glen Alexander and Gary Gordon. The third album released in 2004 named Legends is a pretty good sympnonic/neo prog album to my ears, They evolved from a heavier side of prog on first two records on this one they sound very much like Genesis - Trick of the tail era. I don't think I've ever head the chance to hear a band to sound so similar to Genesis, from voice to almost all arrangements are sounding more Genesis then Gensis itself. Anyway the passages are well constructed with plenty of good moments, the guitar and the keyboards are really good. From Banks like smooth keyboards parts to Hackettian guitars, Magrather manage to create a pleasent album even is far from original, but is decent and very enjoyble from start to finish. The voice is a Gabriel/Collins clone but has the merits here not to be boring, is ok most of the time, typical english in aproach of course. If the production is not fantastic or crystal clear like on other bands, but is better this way to have a good album with poor mixing then a crystal clear sound with bad pieces.Tunes like reunion, The Man Who Loved Flowers or Agoraphobic are really good and shows that this band has potential and the musicians involved here play for pleasure with honesty not for money or other things. All in all a fairly good album that must be discovered by many prog lovers as possible. 3-3.5 stars

Report this review (#781699)
Posted Wednesday, July 4, 2012 | Review Permalink

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