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Windchase - Symphinity CD (album) cover

SYMPHINITY

Windchase

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars These guys from: Sebastian Hardie. ....really does the prog light dance!! If you´re into Sebastian Hardie (they only did 2,but great, albums) this is the sequel...that is...only 2 members remain...still the 2 most interesting persons:Mario Millo/ Vocals,Guitars,tubular bells. Toivo pelt: Keyboards. Its a wonderfull mix of Camel circa...first period....and Sebastian hardie. So prog-mate...if you like those....this is one to get !! Especially if your into Latimers (Camel) style of guitar-playing!! Mario Milo...is of course no Latimer..but he´s close......its wondefullly dreamy.. his guitarplaying!! On the other hand...if you dont know Sebastian Hardie!! Try them out first...i recommend : "Four Moments". That it for now...happy proggin´.
Report this review (#7694)
Posted Thursday, January 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars This would have been a better album if the musicians had concentrated on being less of a YES tribute/ clone / ripoff ( your choice of discription ). Basically it is a collection of sub standard Yes wannabes trying to sound like YES. The music itself is not so bad, but it is a pale shadow of the music of YES.
Report this review (#7697)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Heptade
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It's amazing how many 70s albums get compared unfavourably with Yes. Both Sebastian Hardie, this band's forerunner, and Windchase fall victim to this. Essentially the same group with the same sound, Hardie/ Windchase were a very melodic group of Aussies led by guitarist Mario Millo and keyboardist Toivo Pilt. The music is classy, showing just as much of a Pink Floyd influence, certainly in the guitar playing and some of the slower passages. There is much less emphasis on guitar and keyboard virtuosity, which is a good thing. Guitar and keyboard parts are allowed to breathe without packing the notes in. The vocals are very strong, perhaps Jon Anderson-y, but certainly not a blatant hijacking of styles like the vocals on Starcastle and Druid albums. The pieces vary from sweeping ballads to jaunty tunes, all with a nice airy, positive feel to them. Not a spectacular album, but a very pleasing symphonic rock experience, and one of the better symph albums from the late 70s, along with Sebastian Hardie's Four Moments.
Report this review (#87405)
Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
1 stars This can be viewed as the third Sebastian Hardie album, with a slightly changed line-up: the Pavlic brothers getting the boot and replaced by a more efficient rhythm section. They had to change the name because it was related to the brother's legacy (both Pilt and Millo arrived in SH as the Pavlic bros were already there) and this was for the better: a less ridiculous and error-inducing name, the dropping of that ugly logo. So they chose to rename themselves after the name of their SH second album, Windchase and as a quartet (still the basic prog quartet) will record one last album, musically fairly close to the predecessors. But whatever flaws were apparent in the Hardie, are also here quite evident, maybe even multiplied. Plagued by poor production (some vocals are completely boxed-in, but then again given the overall quality, this might just be a blessing in disguise), the album roams aimlessly between Camel, some Yes, some Genesis, none of them being actually properly paid homage to.

Plagued with an atrociously pretentious title (symphinity. yeaaaaaah, riiiiight!!!), a ridiculous sci-fi heroic-fantasy D-series comics artwork and the Dean-like logo, this gatefold album unfortunately presents all of the clichés that were becoming the target of laughter by the album's date of release. Musically we are still close to ultra- symphonic prog ala Camel (with Floyd hints in the solos) even if Millo is allowing Pilt to write as much tracks as he does (4 each, with both writing a short solo piece), but overall this album is hardly an improvement on their previous two. There are some incredibly cheesy moments (the atrocious singing of Glad To Be Alive and its horrendous string arrangements) poor songwriting (No Scruples, opening the flipside) and awful AOR pop song (the closing Flight Call and its kitsch sitar-styled solo) that makes this album a complete embarrassment.

The (much) better tracks are the ultra-derivative Gypsy, and the no-less derivative but good instrumental Lamb's Fry (both of them presenting a slight Caravan-esque atmosphere), but let's face it, this hardly enough to save the album from drowning to Marianna Trench-depth. BTW, the Cd reissues come with a bonus track, a live version of the title track, which brings nothing more to the disastrous results.

In short, this album is nothing short of laughable and probably shown as the prime exhibit for prog's trial by the music industry, as it cumulates all of the clichés (visual and aural) that makes it an obscene insult to the wax it is unscrupulously laid upon. An utter and blatant self-inflicted masturbationary fantasy dung.

Staaayyyy awaaaayyyy from this one!!!!!!

Report this review (#122288)
Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars Well this was a bit of a letdown, to say the least. When I heard the introduction “Forward We Ride” for the first time I thought, “Forward indeed!”. But this thing goes downhill fast, and there is very little to redeem it after the first minute and a half.

Windchase are pasrts of Sebastian Hardie plus the Pavlic brothers and drummer Doug Bligh from the early seventies Aussy band Galadriel. At first I even confused this album for the Sebastian Hardie recording also titled ‘Windchase’. This one is even cheesier though; a bit more polished, but cheesy nonetheless.

I wonder if the title ‘Symphinity’ is some sort of play on the multi-platinum Kansas title ‘Leftoverture’ that was still on the charts when this released. Maybe, but in any case it’s not really all that clever. Once the beautiful piano intro is past, the rest of the album is sort of an onslaught of what Barry Manilow would have sounded like if he were doing a medley of Yes covers with an occasional disco beat. That about says it really. Except that Manilow did manage to pen slightly more catchy lyrics at least. Keyboardist Toivo Pilt’s lyrics are not much more than a bunch of clichéd catch phrases strung together and delivered with lounge-act smoothness and very little energy.

The Mario Millo compositions are a little better, but even here they end up sounding like musically dumbed-down ELO tunes. “Glad to be Alive”, “Flight Call”, and “Gypsy” all fit this description, while the brief “Non Siamo Perfetti” manages to be a mildly interesting acoustic guitar piece that could have improved the album were it extended into a full- blown composition.

“No Scruples”, another Pilt track, manages to come off sounding like a preview of the first couple of Asia albums, hence another Yes influence and reference. But not as dynamic or complex as Asia even. Pretty good keyboards though.

Which leaves “Lamb’s Fry”, a nearly ten-minute piece that manages to actually sound prog-worthy for the most part. The layered keyboards and shifting guitar passages coupled with several almost clever tempo changes yield a rather decent track that I may rip and put onto an instrumental collection CD for traveling. Maybe.

Oh yeah, and the CD reissue includes a live version of “Horsemen to Symphinity” that is longer and more elaborated than the original studio version, but still not very memorable.

This is a disappointing piece of underachievement for the most part. The only reason I’m going to give it two stars is for “Lamb’s Fry” and in deference to the fact that this album was released at the very end of an era when progressive music was in serious decline, so the temptation of the band to put out glossed-over schlock is understandable, though still not forgivable.

Not really recommended unless you just are the curious type who doesn’t have very high expectations. Two stars.

peace

Report this review (#126353)
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars This album brings me fond memories cause through it I found a bunch of prog-heads from different parts of my city with whom I fraternize until today. Everything was casual and started in a newsstand where the dealer, a humble guy, was playing an album (this one) that caught my attention. The rest is history but the underground net of prog-lovers in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is much greater than someone could dream of - we'll take the power sooner or later.

I knew nothing then about WINDCHASE or even that some band members made part of another group, apparently more respected. The matter is that I enjoyed "Symphinity" and believed and still believe that it's a good album for relaxing after hearing some other dark or introspective prog works - we all need stuff like that from times to times.

Sound here is a blend of soft art & symphonic rock with agreeable pop-rock tunes, being the first seriously influenced by the likes of YES or CAMEL with some FLOYD touches and the second much in the lines of BEATLES or ELO. The short 'Forward we ride', the opening track, may be misleading with its colorful Italian spot; it's only an impression - the rest of the album goes in a totally different way. Pure progressive hearts will discover soon that the pop-rock approach works better than the prog-rock one.

The instrumental 'Horsemen to Symphinity' is catchy and amusing being a bit stronger in its live version attached in the 2000 CD issue as a bonus track. 'Glad to be alive' is an uplifting pop song, with fine vocals. The following track, 'Gypsy', intends to be a kind of blues-rock but the result is boring.

'No scruples' looks more like a YES cover but vocals are somewhat diverse. 'Lamb's fry' brings a bit of late psychedelia where sound effects mix with jazzy tunes providing a fair and hearable moment. The acoustic 'Non siamo perfetti' intends to bring back the peninsular ambience but it's too short to be remembered. 'Flight call', the original closing track, reminds me some cheesy late 60s melody and that's all.

Overall, with a fairly correct production and counting with skilful band members we may say that "Symphinity" is a good album however not really essential.

Report this review (#126768)
Posted Monday, June 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a decent album, recommended to fans of romantic-tinged soft prog. In Australia, the ship of the desert is perhaps the kangaroo; Camel is only a musical influence that deeply affected Sebastian Hardie's fluid guitarist Mario Millo, who leads this offshoot with great success. Windchase's "Symphinity" is a 1977 record that continues where Camel's "Mirage" left off but with an added feature: Mario Millo's equal fascination for Carlos Santana and Jan Akkerman. So what so special here? Toivo Pilt is the keyboard maestro here, displaying his gift on Hammond C3, Grand piano, Mini-Moog, Fender Rhodes, Mellotron, ARP 2600, Solina, Omni strings and Clavinet D6. Duncan McGuire on bass and Doug Bligh on drums provide the rhythmic support. The 8.33 of "Horsemen to Symphinity" is a colossal slab in the Camel, Focus and Santana vein which will be reprised at the end of this recording by the live 1998 version of the band with new members, except for Mario. More detail on this piece later. The average "Glad to be Alive" is another 8 minute joyride but the vocal and the string arrangement are plodding heavy, blooming only when Millo lets loose a long series of guitar forays with some spirited bass rumbling from the McGuire mate, but the vocals sound hopelessly outdated. "Gypsy" provides Millo the luxury of using his volume pedal, sounding exactly like the famed Dutch guitarist, amid the wrapping Hammond (sounding exactly like Van Leer) and the stop-start Focus rhythm, unleashing a tinge of Carlos "El Gitano" Santana, for good measure. How can one not like this? Fetch me a Foster's, will ya! "No Scruples" relies on some slithering keyboard parts, with loads of synthesizer solos that give way to some mesmerizing Millo acrobatics and more unconvincing but brief vocals. "Lamb's Fry" is a splendid 9 minute journey back to Camel lands, with charitable doses of electric piano solos, oriental tinged synth runs and energetic bass/drums, adorned with a scintillating jazzy Millo flight, full of technique and passion, searing into Carlos territory once again. When these guys drop the vocal mikes, they truly shine. "Non Siamo Perfetti" (we are not Perfect) is a humble acoustic guitar piece that explores Mediterranean aromas (Down Under is a land of immigrants, after all) and is well worth the 2 minutes as an interlude. "Flight Call" is another poorly vocalized song that is utterly forgettable with the corniest lyrics this side of Oceania but those were the times, I guess. Even the short synth solo is syrupy and tasteless. Should have titled this "Fight Call" instead. Fetch me another Foster's, will ya! Thankfully, the crowning achievement is the reprise discussed earlier, a near 12 minute rampage that manages to outshine the original version's sheer brilliance, with resolute playing by Mario and the Men from Mars. Perhaps the live setting added some zip and gusto because even the brief singing is better, the spotlight clearly remaining on Millo's expressive fingers, twisting notes, tossing in some overt Santana allusions (not too many are skilled enough to emulate that high and rapid sustain) and jamming with utter zeal, including a whopping drum solo. About 15 minutes are yucky but the rest is admirable and worth the adventure. Hey, there from Down Under, what the heck! 3.5 Waltzing Matildas.
Report this review (#165477)
Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Musicians getting lost in the outback.

What the holy camel was the musicians thinking when they made this album ? If I had as many personalities as this album has, I would had been put in a mental hospital for years. This album have Santana type of jazz and horrible 1970s Las Vegas type of music. The contrast could not had been bigger. That Las Vegas type of song, which not even Elvis Presley would had touched with a bargepole, is called Glad to be Alive. Well, one more time with that song and I can be found at the end of a long rope. It is an utterly horrible song. What the holy penguin was Windchase thinking ? The rest of the album is a mix of generic fusion and symphonic prog. The Santana copycat song they included on this album is named Horsemen to Symphinity and it comes twice. A studio and a live version. I guess the latter one is a bonus track. This song is by far the best song on this album. The rest is not too bad, actually. But this album is still a lost cause and one best forgotten. Thanx to PA, it is buried in the sands of time. I am not so sure if the musicians on this album is too fond of PA for bringing this album to attention of the general public again......... But, we all carries our crosses towards Golgotha.

2 stars

Report this review (#258633)
Posted Thursday, December 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars It's funny, most of the times, I basically agree with previous reviews, add basically the same rating. But in this case, I feel the need to defend very fine album that doesn't deserve this fate as far as I am concerned.

I'm fan of romantic Prog Rock, because it doesn't sound cheesy to me, there is no "clone" band for me, because each band is unique (some are more, some are less, but basically there is always something worth of admiration).

Beautiful, Romantic, Vintage, these are just terms for the same feeling. Positive, optimistic mood accompanied by Prog. Perhaps not progressive, but for sure Prog (don't ask).

I like this, I can extremely well appreciate this, some may even say that I dig this kind of music (amongst others), but my pleasant surprise is even bigger when considering how low my expectations were - due to reviews I saw here.

Beautiful bass work here, especially when it is so prominent, switching sides with synthesizer (that is less dominant on this album).

For example Glad To Be Alive, yes, unreal (synth) orchestra (but the impression is very good), but that doesn't matter as long as it sounds very faithful and well. And this guitar change in the middle, ever-present feeling of goodness that is soaked in this song ( =>> album), it's worth of consideration.

It's grandiose and pompous, but I have no problem with that. I don't hate grandiosity, I admire it.

4(+) and I hope I didn't break some kind of taboo, didn't commit some kind of Prog blasphemy.

Not the best mark, because some elements sounds not so original, but after all, that's what a lot of this is about.

Report this review (#283097)
Posted Saturday, May 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I still don´t know why some albums get so much flak from reviewers. When I got this album I was waiting for something really bad or at least boring, considering some nasty remarks I read on PA. So I was quite surprised to find the music on this CD to be anything but. Actually after repeated spins I´m convinced that this is another long lost prog gem. Ok, not perfect (see more about that below), but still much more than I expected. Windchase was an australian prog group founded by ex Sebastian Hardie key members, Mario Millo (guitars & vocals) and Toivo Pilt (keyboards). They recruited a bassist and a drummer and Winhdchase was born.

Symphnity was their only album and the sound is not very different from Sebastian Hardie, although I see some development here. There is also some new technology involved (string synthesizers instead of melltrons for exemple). But the songwriting is top notch. In fact I liked it better than SH´s second offering (which ironicly the new group is named after). The perfomances are also exceptional, with beautiful guitar and keyboards interplay, backed by a strong and versatile rhythm section. The album´s main problem seems to be partly the third track: Glad To be alive with its lame strings and also lame vocals is clearly out of place here and almost ruined the album´s continuity. The instrumental part of that tune is not that bad, but the damage was done. Fortunatly, it is the only weak link . It seems that this song (along with the pretentious title) is the main source for the vicious attacks this CD got.

A pity, since the remaining tracks are simply great. Nice symphonic rock that mixes very well influences from such classic bands of the 70´s like Focus, Camel and Yes. Millo´s guitar playing is gorgeous, with a very melodic feeling that is so rare to find nowadays. Pilt´s vintage keyboards are also a highlight complementing Millo´s guitar to make a real fine tapestry of sounds that I can hear for hours and hours without getting tired of or less moved. My favorite number is Gypsy, one of the best prog instrumentals I heard recently. As usual, nothing here is avant guard or groundbreaking. Just very good music, well written and played. Production is ok.

Conclusion: a very strong release from those Aussies, that deserve more atention that it got until now. If you like melodic symnphonic with simple, but tasteful, guitar and keyboards, welcome aboard! I´m really sad that those guys did not release a follow up. But the times were changing (1977 was really a bad year for prog!) and they moved on. At least they left an excellent work for music lovers like me. I´m glad to have found such prog gem. Four strong stars.

Report this review (#285877)
Posted Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars WINDCHASE was formed by the singer/guitarist and keyboardist from the then recently disbanded SEBASTIAN HARDIE. They even went as far to name this band after the title of their final album "Windchase". I would describe this music as lighter and softer than SEBASTIAN HARDIE with lyrics that don't do much for me. Even the mellotron doesn't sound as good as it did with the parent band.

"Forward We Ride" is a short piano only intro track. "Horsemen To Symphinity" has a really good intro and I like when the tempo picks up as well. I'm reminded of CAMEL here.Vocals after 2 minutes. Some nice guitar after 3 1/2 minutes as it settles back some.The guitar stops 7 minutes in then it picks back up again like earlier. "Glad To Be Alive" has these sappy lyrics and the mellotron strings are just as wimpy. Sorry this song is really poor. "Gypsy" opens with children talking then the atmosphere and music takes over. Relaxed guitar and a beat after a minute.This is better. "No Scruples" opens with keyboards then it settles in and vocals and backing vocals join in. Not a fan of this at all but it's better after 3 minutes when the synths then guitar come in.

"Lamb's Fry" is almost a shock to hear because it sounds nothing like the rest of the allbum. A 9 1/2 minute instrumental that steals the show here by far. It opens with the sound of a lamb frying then these mellow keys come in and sheep sounds. It starts to kick in at 1 1/2 minutes.This is excellent.It's fusiony with electric piano and supurb drumming. I like the synths too. Love this track. Guitar before 4 1/2 minutes. Fantastic tune ! "No Siamo Perfetti" is a short acoustic guitar track. "Flight Call" is laid back with vocals.

3 stars and no more for this uneven album. I'll stick with SEBASTIAN HARDIE thankyou.

Report this review (#430600)
Posted Sunday, April 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Windchase is pretty much Sebastian Hardie with a new rhythm section. They released Symphinity when prog was declining in success, and so were trying to keep it alive with this album. Retaining prog cliches and obvious influences from prog giants, the band came up with something not great but good.

Forward We Ride is a piano piece that leads on to the next song, Horsemen to Symphinity. It's well written and a good opener.

Horsemen to Symphinity is a mini-epic which drives along nicely with great rhythm and guitar playing. It feels a little lengthy though and the main guitar solo isn't very impressive. Not too bad.

Glad To Be Alive is a bit corny but I actually don't mind it. I have grown to enjoy it and like it more than most of the other songs. It has a good structure and remains interesting throughout. It may take a few listens to enjoy though.

Gypsy is an instrumental a bit like Sebastian Hardie song Rosanna, where Mario Millo does melodic soloing throughout. It's ok but I can't help but feel that it's a bit reminiscent of the verses in Echoes by Pink Floyd. I don't mind if the band steals somebody's sound, but if they use the same chord change it puts me off just a little. This song doesn't do much for me.

No Scruples is a psychedelic, upbeat song and I like it. The keyboards are strong and the vocals are strange. Although, I think the keyboard solo is a bit too lengthy and the song starts to break down a little. But it's still enjoyable.

Lamb's Fry is actually one of the songs I find slightly hard to enjoy. It feels like a long jam with no real depth. It's interesting and enjoyable but a little lengthy and doesn't do much for me. Makes good background music though, for when I'm not really concentrating.

Non Siamo Perfetti is basically a couple of Sebastian Hardie songs put into a short acoustic guitar piece. Recognizing this made me like it even more. It makes a good interlude.

Flight Call is probably the weakest of all the songs here. It's simple, laid back and nothing special.

Also, the artwork is a nice change from the Sebastian Hardie covers.

So overall it's a fairly decent album that grows on you over time. If you like Sebastian Hardie or Mario Millo, you'll enjoy this. 3.5 stars

(The version I reviewed doesn't have the live version of Horsemen on it.)

Report this review (#504661)
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Basically Sebastian Hardie with a new and improved rhythm section (Duncan McGuire formerly of In Focus/King Harvest/Friends/Ayers Rock, and Doug Bligh formerly of Galadriel). Other than that line-up change, the crucial difference with the original band is that Toivo Pilt is now writing as much music as Mario Millo - and I find his music much more interesting. He's not as ambitious as Millo, keeping all his compositions much simpler, but he also steers clear of Millo's cheesy pop side. Mostly his pieces display a stronger jazz fusion influence, which well suits the new rhythm section - "Horsemen to Symphinity" and "Lamb's Fry" are great examples, while "No Scruples" sounds kind of like a simplified version of Sound Chaser. I also like his brief piano solo "Forward We Ride". Millo, by contrast, gives us more pop cheese ("Flight Call") and more pretty but slight melodic guitar instrumental ("Gypsy"). I actually like his "Glad To Be Alive", despite it's generous quotient of pop cheese, the tune isn't bad and it's one of the more ambitious arrangements on the album. Quite an underrated album - shows what Sebastian Hardie could have been if Millo hadn't exercised such a stranglehold on the compositional direction.
Report this review (#722311)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Windchase is the shadow of Sebastian Hardie that produced some of Australia's most progressive 70s albums. Mario Millo on guitars and vocals moved onto a solo career in later years but before this he was an essential part of Windchase. He was also joined by ex- Sebastian Hardie keyboardist Toivo Pilt. Both were integral to the Sebastian Hardie albums "Four moments" in 1975 and "Windchase" in 1976. The following year in 1977 Windchase was formed as a new project, equally progressive but a fair amount more rhythmic notably with the addition of Doug Bligh on drums, and Duncan MgGuire on bass.

Mario Millo is a great smooth vocalist on the sole Windchase album "Symphinity",and he also plays mandolin, acoustic guitars and tubular bells. His colleague and good friend, Toivo Pilt, has a powerful presence on Hammond C3 L-111 organ, grand piano, Mini Moog, Fender Rhodes, mellotron, Arp 2600, Solina, Omni string synth, clavinet D6, handclaps and vocals.

The music is organic and flowing throughout on such wonderful songs as 'Horsemen to Symphinity', a mini epic that moves in a myriad of musical directions, and the instrumental 'Gypsy' that showcases the beautiful guitar work of Millo. I like the way this sounds like Camel in places and has an uplifting tempo and melody.

For a more rhythmic feel we can turn to 'Glad to be Alive', a sheer optimistic poppy approach, and the heavier tempos of 'No Scruples' which is replete with magical keyboard wizardry and some Yes-like harmonies. Pilt's keyboards are precise and have that atmospheric 70s spacey texture in tone; a bit like the style of Emerson. He is joined by a stirring lead guitar solo in the lengthy instrumental section; simply incredible music on this highlight track. 'Lamb's Fry' is the longest track at 9:39, an instrumental beginning with sizzling fry pan, and then bubbles along with chiming keys, a lamb bleating, and locks into a smooth groove with Omni string synth. The spacey sound of Moog takes over along a 2 chord jangling rhythm guitar motif. Pilt is in his element on keys but allows Millo to inject one of his trademark lead guitar breaks. This is one of the best pieces of music from Windchase, a veritable jam session where the musicians are able to unleash their talents as they desire.

To close the album there is a brief Hackett-like acoustic piece, 'Non Siamo Perfetti', and then 'Flight Call'. The return to vocals is startling after all the instrumentals. I always find the vocals relaxing, and this has some beautiful Mellotron strings. The CD has the bonus 'Horsemen To Symphinity (live performance - Mario Millo & men from mars 1998)' which is the excellent album track with extra filling clocking almost 12 minutes, featuring extended drum solo and dynamic lead break; a great bonus.

Overall it is a very relaxing album, though not without some flaws, and a wonderful example of 70s Aus prog. The album cover is one of the best for Aus prog, with mystical imagery, psychedelic colours and trippy artwork; UFOs and Ancient Egypt always works for me! Well worth seeking out as a vinyl treasure, quite rare, and a terrific one off album showcasing these very talented musicians.

Report this review (#846040)
Posted Saturday, October 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars With all due respect to the 2 star (and below) reviews for this album along with its lower rating than the other sebastian-hardie-related (including Mario Millo solo albums), I have to say I'm a bit puzzled by the lower ratings.

Having read the lower ratings, I sort of assumed this was more like the comparing the "invisible touch" Genesis album to the other albums by Genesis.

I was sort of expecting a poppy non-melodic half-arsed album thrown together as a part of a ploy to make money or go commercial. Sort of like "Giant for a day" by Gentle Giant (although I feel that album is not as bad as everyone else seems to make it out to be as there's some enjoyable tunes on that too).

If I had to compare this album with other types of efforts, rather than being really "poppy" or "commercial", I'd have to compare this to the Anderson/Bruford/Wakeman/Howe album. You know.. The album with "Brothers in Arms". Although not on part with the other Yes albums, that was still a pretty decent album.

I'd also have to compare this album to some Flower King efforts (ie, "Back in the world of Adventures" or things like that).

This album to my ears is in the same vein. Lots of tasty arrangements here with keyboards, guitars and nice vocals of Millo. The music here switches from classical inspired (to the excellent open piano section) on piano and later on in the album, you're treated to a nice accoustical passage by Millo.

For me, all the songs are good. "Horsemen to Symphinity", etc.. To my ears, I really like "Glad to be alive". A very catchy unforgettable melody.

This album is definitely prog with occassional pop leanings. But good pop to say. More prog.

Another thing I notice about this album and the Sebastian Hardie/Millo solo efforts is that they tend to all have an upbeat/happy feel. Very positive. Not like the negative Paternoster album :-)

This album ended up being way way better than I expected and it will get as much airplay as the other Sebastian Hardie albums. I'm puzzled by the lower ratings for this album but I respect those reviews. To me, I'm glad I have this album and it's perfect for those days when I need a "positive lift". "Glad to be alive" may be one of the most upbeat prog songs I ever heard. Makes me feel great after giving that one a spin.

FYI, the solo album "Epic III" by Mario Millo is a MUST for anyone who likes Sebastian Harde's "Four Moments" album.

Anyhow, SYMPHINITY gets a full thumbs up from the rock I just crawled out of.

Report this review (#1216514)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars Although technically WINDCHASE is a one shot band that released their one album SYMPHINITY in 1977, it is in fact really the 3rd album for Australia's first symphonic prog band Sebastian Hardie with a slight lineup change. That band had been around since 1967 and only managed to put out a couple albums and had many a lineup change. It was Mario Millo (guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Toivo Pilt (keyboards) who decided to record this album by adopting the name from the second album for the band name of this one. SYMPHINITY took the Camel and Genesis pastoral style of symphonic prog and added a more jazz-fusion oriented sound to the mix. The results are a little hit and miss but when it hits it hits quite well.

This album caught my eye because of the really cool album cover and the title of the album is a clever agglutination of 'Symphonic Infinity.' Unfortunately like their previous band Sebastian Hardie they seem to continue their knack for being able to cleverly cut and paste various influences together into creative ways without adding much in the way of any originality. After so much time one would think that an idiosyncrasy of sound would find its way into the whole scheme of things but WINDCHASE happily goes down previously treaded grounds keeping things somewhat predictable but never dull and always well played. I have to admit this was a bit of a grower. It hardly blows you away upon first listen. The obvious Camel meets Caravan approach with some Brand X type of jazz-fusion in play is all nice and good but if you're expecting Earth-shattering performances here then you'll be sadly disappointed.

However if you like an interesting form of prog lite that has some beautiful melodies that induce fluttering mellotron action and nice drawn out jams, then you might enjoy this indeed. Although the drawn out lead track 'Forward We Ride...' seems a little long for its own good, other tracks like 'Gypsy' and the excellent 'Lamb's Fry' fair well. I find this album very worthy indeed of my attention but wish it was a bit more consistent in its delivery and it lacks that extra oompf that makes an album truly special. 3.5 rounded down

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Posted Saturday, October 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Abandoned are the Sebastian Hardie moniker despite the remainder of the two main songwriters from the Windchase album of the year before! Guitarist Mario Millo and keyboard artist Toivo Pilt share the songwriting chores here more equally than on the two SebHardie albums.

The influences on Millo's guitar playing is more diverse than on the first Sebastian Hardie release, Four Moments: I hear more Carlos SANTANA, Steve Morse, and Steve Howe than the Jan Akkerman or Andy Latimer sounds and styles previously dominating his performances (though the older-feeling 4. "Gypsy" [4:47] [8.75/10] could, once again, have come directly off of an early 1970s Focus album). The vocals have an effect creating a Greg Lake/John Wetton sound, though Camel in the rhythm section. I get what other reviewers are saying about the poppier tendencies of the songs credited to Mario Millo--witness the sappy orchestral support on 3. "Glad to Be Alive" (8:06) (8/10). I like the vocals better here, as well, as I can hear more efforts to achieve individual recognition in a Grand Funk Railroad-kind of way.

1. "Forward We Ride" (1:39) a jazz-lounge "classical" piano solo to open the album. Very pretty. (5/5) 2. "Horsemen to Symphinity" (8:33) opens feeling and sounding like something from either a Hatfield and the North album or Gino Vanelli before the electric guitar settles in over a nice, driving slightly-Latin flavored rhythm section. The guitar sounds Andy Latimer-like in the first verse but then becomes more Santana-like as the song goes on--so much emotion packed into that sound, those notes! Truly goosebump-raising! The Greg Lake/John Wetton vocal sound is very strong in this one. The organ play backing Mario's third guitar solo is so Greg Rollie--making the solo sound that much more Santana-ish--though the lull before the finish is more Focus-Jan Akkerman-like! Amazing song! Full marks! A shining example of all that is best with prog music! (20/20)

5. "No Scruples" (6:29) has more of the Camel/Kansas sound with the Lake/Wetton voice at its most aggressive, before it shifts into the frenetic "Sound Chaser" synth solo mode. Surprise that it then shifts into full-on CAMEL Moonmadness. (8.5/10)

6. "Lamb's Fry" (9:39) quickly clicks into a Santana-like groove with the bass and rhythm guitar playing major rolls behind the soloing synth. If anyone's heard 2018's "Strange Valleys" by Californians STARVING DAUGHTERS you know the feel of this funky tune--it's dance infectious--something rare in Prog World. The passionate guitar and keyboard soloing is so second fiddle to the awesome rhythm track. Once again, I am happy for the instrumental nature of this song. The lulling middle section continues to maintain that Santana-like Latin feel as a Chick Corea- like Fender Rhodes solos. Listen to Mario's rhythm work behind! The guy is INTO this! It just makes it that much more infectious. (19/20)

7. "Non Siamo Perfetti" (1:57) a gorgeous, very professional solo classical guitar piece. (5/5)

8. "Flight Call" (4:36) pretty, lushly-scored and polished, this is a true "prog" pop song--similar to what PFM became after it started creating albums in English. (8.75/10)

One thing I like about this album is the greater prominence and variety of keyboard sounds: Toivo Pilt really gets to shine throughout!

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music--really! This is really top notch prog music--no where as imitative as the SebHardie albums.

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Posted Saturday, February 8, 2020 | Review Permalink

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