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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - The Empire And The Rebellion CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Surprisingly interesting product that came out of this Finnish instigated Italian made project.

Italian symphonic progressive rock may not be the best suitable type of music to convey the Star Wars saga with, but the core band making up this creation and their guest stars make a good job out of it. With Hammond organ and symphonic textured keyboards and synths as dominating musical elements, a mostly dark-tinged and melancholy exploration of the Star wars universe is served in a continuous, close to 80 minutes long composition; broken down to 11 segments tied together by sound effects.

Vintage symphonic rock of the Italian school is explored throughout, with brief excursions into territories similar to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum for one track and a lengthier 10 minute long jazzy interlude in two parts a bit into the album - a sort of an hommage to a sequence in the first Star Wars movie if I remember correctly.

A strong production overall; that should be interesting to fans of vintage symphonic rock despite the rather high geek factor involved.

Report this review (#207860)
Posted Friday, March 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars And the space sounding jamming solo in the middle of Droids, that's something quite unique. And after all, space sounds + galaxy far far ago, that could work well, right ? So, to continue with some of things Windhawk said, after John William's great scores (six of them, all of them good), it's hard to break this spell. Even Jeremy Soule (Morrowind/ Oblivion music for example) did also good soundtrack to KotOR I. & II., games from Star Wars universe. OK, they're instrumental too, but it's progress.

Now, we got rock + SW and everyone (including me), who know about it is concerned, if it will work. When considering that atmosphere of SW can be quite melancholic, switched for dramatic at times, I think that for the first statement, instruments like Moog, Mellotron and Hammond are well suited. And as for second one, instead of dramatic fight of (starships on screen) strings under conduction of great master, we have progressivo outbursts. It's probably best taken in third track, The Dark Lord of the Sith, where evil (dark) theme is using RPI powers fully. Yes, Italiano rock can be quite psychedelic (as a synonym to madness, crazy sound) and unmelodic. That's fine, fans love it, I can appreciate it, when it's from time to time. Truth is that it took a while to get accustomed to voice in music of SW universe, that's something very unusual (one sung song was in Return of the Jedi). Advantage is, that I don't get lyrics from word to word instantly, therefore I understand only when I concentrate on it. In other words, I can shut of and turn on translating part of my brain when I want. Off = I hear type of voice, pitch of it, music, can evaluate composition, how solid it is, some instruments used. On = these things + lyrics. I suppose they're quite geeky, as WH mentioned. After all, Star Wars is geek thing. That's no offense, it's a good place for movies, comics. OK, lyrics are ridiculous at times, but it's just because I'm not used to hear someone singing "When I was a Jediiii". It will take a while I suppose. And about half jazz, half with poppy melody in chorus, The Millenium Falcon

4(+), for great concept album.

Report this review (#239694)
Posted Thursday, September 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Could have been a lot better

Having a number of albums idealized, organized and released by the Finnish progressive rock magazine Collossus, most of which contain some of the most expectacular music to ever grace my ears (such as Odyssey, Three Samurai and Spaghetti Epic 3), I was very enthusiastic about acquiring this album, at the beginning of 2011; I mean, the concept was interesting enough, the samples around the web were promissing as well, so why not have yet another from this well accomplished magazine?

Starting with the physical qualities of this album, I must say that the booklet has the standard Colossus projet quality and dedication put into it: being nearly as thick as it possibly could be and hardly fitting in the acrylic case, the booklet contains descriptions of all kinds, musician's impressions on the theme, photographs and lyrics as well as their testimony on the "making of" of the album. If there is anything that could be put in that, it's there. Being on an era when less and less time and effort are put into making an actual physical copy of an album, it is very nice, to say the least, to see such amount of work put on the booklet alone!

The theme of the album revolves around the first of the Star Wars movies (which now happens to be the fourth), entitled (now) Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, following the story exactly as showed in the film.

As for the music, I don't believe I could be as complimentary as I was with the booklet. Not because it is bad, but because it isn't nothing but average. Yes, in all 77:51 minutes of music. Throughout the whole album you have the impression that the songs were stretched for as long as possible, aiming for the elongation of songs that were already finished in order to make the album bigger; I can constatly hear lines randomly being put where they both don't belong and don't make sense, being the epic The Rebellion Suite the biggest example of this.

There are, however, songs that do not sound like that, however few they are, being them the Astral Prelude , Meeting the Force , Two Suns , My Tears for Alderaan , clocking for about 20 minutes, less than a third of the whole issue! Coincidentally or not, these songs are mostly short, at least for progressive rock standards, what makes the idea that the other songs were elongated stronger, in my opinion. In spite of that, every song have interesting ideas in them, what is able to renew your interest in them for every now and then and keeps you excited about the music, although there aren't any moments of brilliance, it just melts down to some of the same clichés that we have seen before.

As in other Collossus projects, the musical focus here is symphonic progressive rock similar to the bands of the 1970's. In the case of Empire And The Rebellion's music, that's mixed with some sprinkles of musical space themes (after all, the music is based around Star Wars), driven by keyboards, which usually take the forefront together with the vox, so there are plenty of organs, mellotrons and synthesizers through it all.

The musicianship and the production are mostly very professional and well processed. The instruments and voices sound clear, alive and bright. That's specially true for the "non-rock" instruments, such as the woodwinds, saxophone and bowed string instruments. The only exception is the bassit who, from time to time, manages to play off of time in a studio recording!

Rating and final thoughts

All in all, listening to The Empire and The Rebellion is an amusing experience: the music is enjoyable, the theme and how it is developed are interesting (if you know the film, you can literally watch it in your head as the music plays), but I feel that it falls short in a number of departments. Maybe if the album was some 10, 20 or even 30 minutes shorter, the experience would be much more fulfilling and enjoyable. There is also the problem with the number of clichés they employ, but that would require a much deeper change

For all that was said, 3 stars would be the most appropriate rating.

Report this review (#586858)
Posted Sunday, December 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Colossus Project was an Italian musical project featuring four members and a wide range of guest musicians, including known names Keiko Kumagai (Ars Nova) and Fred Schendel (Glass Hammer) and fellow Italians Cristiano Roversi (Moongarden, Submarine Silence and The Watch) and Joe La Viola (Malaavia). The concept-story is based upon Georg Lucas popular Star Wars Episode IV as a tribute, you can read about that in the huge booklet also including words about the foundation of this project, the musicians, the instruments (mainly 'vintage') and the lyrics, embellished with tasteful pictures of all members.

The music sounds very varied, along pure progrock we can also enjoy a pleasant blend of several styles with lush vintage keyboards (especially the Mellotron, Hammond organ and Minimoog synthesizer): bluesy with tasteful work on organ, guitar, saxophone along Minimoog runs and a swinging Hammond solo in The Millennium Falcon - folky with soaring female vocals, flute and Celtic harp in the mellow My Tears For Alderaan - classical in the beautiful instrumental May The Force Be With You - jazzy with powerful saxophone in the short and funny The Millenium Quartet - melodic rock in the propulsive Meeting The Force (strong break with swirling Hammond solo by Fred Schendel) - dreamy with steel-guitar and Fender Rhodes electric piano, flute, acoustic rhythm-guitar and warm vocals in Two Suns - and a kind of 'symphonic rock ballad' in When I Was A Jedi (featuring the distinctive harpsichord sound, Hammond, Moog and dramamtic vocals).

My progrock highlights are the instrumental first composition Astral Prelude (wonderful vintage keyboards and a groovy bass solo, including the 'slap' technique), the alternating The Dark Lord Of The Sith (from intro with fado guitar and a final part with acoustic guitar to bombastic keyboard and Fripperian guitarwork) and especially the epic The Rebellion Suite (3 parts, around the 20 minutes), from beautiful flute ? and violin-Mellotron and howling guitar like Steve Hackett (glissando and 'hammering down') to a swinging bass solo and a compelling grand finale with excellent interplay between Grand piano, Mellotron and emotional vocals, goose bumps!

If you are up to tasteful and varied music that is layered with Moogs, Hammonds and Mellotrons, contains a wide range of instruments and has an important role for the vocals (only 3 songs are instrumental), you will be pleased with Colossus Project.

My rating: 3,5 star.

Report this review (#1891853)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | Review Permalink


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