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Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars The EP can be listened and ordered at their new website (!

Well, despite of their totally new line up (with exception of Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford) Renaissance's new EP surprised me, a lot!

Annie Haslam still have the same voice, wich is incredible and very conforting! The band have few weak points, specially in their instruments sounds, with is what annoy me in every new release from an originally 70's band, you're always used to their 'special 70's sound' and listen to a new sound it's quite 'strange'.

But the songs have the same emotion they had in such great records like Ashes Are Burning or Turn Of The Cards, 'Tonight' is an amazing vocal piece by Annie, good as ever.

'The Mystic And The Muse' is the first track and it's very delightful, very 'old school' Renaissance. I think the weak point is in 'Immortal Beloved', not that is a bad track, but I missed something in it.

The good thing is, Renaissance is back, and in VERY good shape, wish more 70's band come back with this quality!

Report this review (#290114)
Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars A Renaissance-renaissance!

I have never been a big fan of Renaissance, but I could not avoid being very curious upon hearing about this freely available three track EP (see After hearing this new EP I must conclude that it is a surprising return to form after more than 30 years of alternating between weaker efforts and complete silence. The sound of these new songs harks back at least to the Novella album from 1977 and they would indeed have fitted perfectly on that album. The quality of this new music is, in my opinion, up to par with much of the band's classic era of the 1970's! It far surpasses the 2000 release, Tuscany, in both progressiveness and quality.

The song with the highest interest for Prog fans is undoubtedly the opening title track. But also the other two tracks are certain to appeal to anyone who followed the band in their heyday. Annie Haslam's voice is as strong as ever and the bombastic and melodic sensibilities of the band are powerfully reinstated. There is indeed very little to indicate the year of release.

For fans of the band this EP is highly recommended, beginners should however best start with the classic albums. For anyone who already owns Renaissance' 70's works but lost interest in the band in the 80's, The Mystic And The Muse is the perfect place to rekindle the flame.

Apparently, Renaissance are currently touring America as special guests of Steve Hackett and Procol Harum. I would have loved to see that!

Report this review (#290433)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars First off, since it's only an EP I don't feel like giving 4 or 5 stars for that kind of album would be fair. This being said the first song "The Mystic and the Muse" is the real highlight here. It's a strong, varied composition with a certain 70's feel and a dramatic opening. Problem here, but maybe only for me, I've seen it played live a few days ago at a Renaissance gig (where I bought the EP) and that live version was much more powerful and grandiose. It was so good the studio version presented here seems pale compared to what I've heard that night. The synth sounds muffled in the intro. The pleasure the group had playing it live isn't totally matched on the recording. But still I think it's a great Renaissance composition.

A word on the two other songs featured on the EP. Immortal Beloved is much slower than the first song. It's simple and melodious with vocal harmonies and piano but not highly prog. The last song, Tonight, is different. Haslam's voice is at the fore-front, seconded again by the piano. It's not the kind of song I usually like, not really prog, although Haslam demonstrates she can still deliver the merchandise and sing very high notes. And this is absolutely true on the two other songs as well. Her vocal range is absolutely phenomenal and you can feel it as soon as the first notes of the album are sung.

The good news is that this EP is the prologue of a full album that is planned to be released next year. If the overall quality of the compositions is at par with the Mystic and the Muse, classic Renaissance fans will be very happy. I'm really eager to hear the full album to come!

To conclude, since it's an EP I think it's really meant for fans and they should get it if not already done.

Report this review (#291088)
Posted Monday, July 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The ashes are burning again

This three song EP is currently available in streaming form from the newly established official Renaissance website (the first time the band have had an official site). While only Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford remain from the classic line up, the sextet which recorded these tracks boasts some impressive credentials.

The opening track, which gives the EP its name, is the most impressive and indeed progressive song the band have recorded in many a year. The rich orchestration and complex arrangement come together with Haslam's legendary voice to create something on a par with epics such as "Ashes are burning" and "The song of Scheherazade".

"Immortal beloved" is a softer piece which is dominated by Haslam's vocals. The harmonised choruses see her stretching that voice to the limits of her incredible range. The song is reminiscent of the band's classic "At the harbour".

The final track "Tonight" begins as another gentle number, but builds through soaring piano and grand orchestration. Annie's voice never sounded better as she delivers the song with passion and grace.

With the band undertaking an ambitious tour in 2010, hopefully this EP is the precursor to a full album. If the contents of the EP are anything to go by, we can look forward to an album which draws on everything which made Renaissance great, while looking to the future with much optimism.

Report this review (#292752)
Posted Friday, July 30, 2010 | Review Permalink

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