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CHAMELEON

Magenta

Neo-Prog


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4 stars Have had a good few listens now and at the moment this is striking me as highly enjoyable, while maybe lacking the depth of its predecessor Metamorphosis (personal favourite). The orchestration on Guernica and Book of Dreams really adds to those tracks and would be nice to see this developed a bit further. Other favourites are the mellow Turn the Tide and closer Red (Not the KC classic!) with some delightful contributions from the ever excellent Chris Fry. There are also some more up tempo moments such as Raw. These do less for me personally, but the variety certainly keeps the album interesting. Christina's vocals are exquisite as always, but overall for me I feel that this is a very creditable effort, rather than a masterpiece.

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Send comments to Pete Flodden (BETA) | Report this review (#555102)
Posted Sunday, October 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having known the band since its excellent debut album, I am really happy that Rob Reed and friends have finally made another new release with this Chameleon album. I did not expect much actually but when I had this album I was quite surprised with the kind of music Magenta is offering. Out of their releases I think only Home (2006) that does not stand out in my view. And now Magenta is back with another excellent album.

Jump!

That's what I did the first time I spun this album through its excellent opening. The album kicks-off beautifully with Glitterball in relatively up tempo, energetic music dominated by inventive keyboard work and powerful vocal. It's really a great opener and it has successfully set the overall tone of the album. It's been quite sometime that I do not play any album from Magenta ? and this album stimulates me to play their previous works. In the middle of the song there is a kind of break with guitar solo that makes this song sounds excellent overall.

The next track Guernica starts mellow with soft female vocal followed then with a dynamic music that brings together an excellent combination of keyboard, solid basslines, guitar and drumming. When the music is in full speed I can find great harmony of the music combining contributions of instruments being played. This track gives us great break with stunning acoustic guitar work. There is element of orchestration throughout the track that enriches overall composition.

Breathe is another excellent track in a style that is similar with previous tracks with the music that suddenly stops after hard opening part. The music returns back to up tempo with powerful vocal "It's getting hard to breathe". What is so captivating about this track is its heavy riffs and many segments of the music. Even though the music contains heavy riffs, it does not sound like a progressive metal work.

Turn The Tide starts off with an ambient vocal work backed with soft keyboard work. The vocal line of Christina Booth sounds nice right here. The music moves in mellow style with nice guitar work and basslines. Book of Dreams brings the music back to relatively medium tempo. For those who love excellent guitar solo, you fill find it in the middle of the track ? performed in a bluesy style. It moves really well from one segment to another.

Reflections is basically a short track featuring acoustic guitar work ? a nice piece of music for a break, really. Raw blasts off nicely with guitar followed with excellent guitar. The song is basically very strong in melody and harmony enriched with guitar work at background. The orchestration is good even though it sounds like a filler ? but it's OK.

The Beginning of the End is another good track that functions as providing a break because the composition is relatively straightforward. Red concludes the album nicely with a style that starts off with an ambient keyboard work supporting the vocal line. The track moves slowly into relatively medium tempo music with good guitar work. The interlude part in the middle of the track is a bit of psychedelic in nature prior to re-entrance of vocal work.

Overall, I think this is a recommended album for those who love neo progressive as well as symphonic prog music. The album sounds cohesive from start to end. The composition is excellent in terms of melody, harmonies produced from all instruments used in the album, relatively simple in structure but it still provide challenges to the listeners. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild ? GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#603905)
Posted Friday, January 06, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars I had the pleasure of seeing Magenta live for the first time a couple of weekends ago at Celebr8 Prog fest in London. I picked up a copy of Chameleon after being rather impressed with their live show.

This is the bands 5th studio album and features a selection of very catchy, but unmistakably prog rock tracks. Many of which are driven by some very fun and interesting synth lines, and this is one of the reasons this CD stands out. The other is the vocals of Christina Booth; her vocals soar over, and compliment the music beautifully. Her vocal style does remind me a little of Julianne Regan (All About Eve) and adds a bit of a folksy feel to proceedings.

I've given this CD quite a few spins and I still can't decide what my favourite track is. Definite highlights are the first two tracks ? Glitterball and Guernica. They are both upbeat, feature some interesting musical passages, and gnarly over the top synth. It's great!

I have to say I don't think the production on this release is that good, the drums seem lacking, and the guitars lost at points. As a personal preference I would like to see the band let rip a bit more; there are some really great build-ups on this album but most of the time they never really amount to much, you're always left waiting for the hit.

Overall I really enjoyed Chameleon; Magentas skill at song writing just shines through on this release. I'd like to see them get a little heavier in places, but I think many would disagree. If you ever get the chance to see them live, you will not be disappointed!

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Send comments to Moshimword (BETA) | Report this review (#790862)
Posted Thursday, July 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars To me a true example of `crossover prog', `Chameleon' is Magenta's most straightforward release to date, but with plenty to still interest the more forgiving prog-rock fan. The majority of the tracks are quite commercial and accessible, very melodic and easy to get into, without being shallow and dumbed down to radio-friendly lengths, and while much of the album still sticks to typical verse- chorus structures, it's packed with atmospheric keyboards, epic guitar solos and evocative vocals. There's punchy and catchy pop-prog like the opening track `Glitterball', heartfelt ballads with `Turn The Tide', tougher pop-rock in `Raw' and a truly grand finale with `Red'.

Magenta has easily the best of the bunch of female prog lead singers with Christina Booth. Her voice is equally powerful, frail and wistful. She has a real character in her voice, and never feels the need to over-sing and drain any of the tracks with needless strangled and drawn out empty showboating. It's always been her subtlety and restraint that lifts her above others. Her voice often conveys such beautiful and sad weariness. She's also very confident on the rockier parts of tracks like `Guernica' and `Breathe', with a commanding presence. Her forceful reading of the lyrics in the second half of `Turn The Tide' floored me, as does her warm tones throughout all of album finale `Red'. Listen to her in that repeated chorus!

As usual much of the album is directed by Rob Reed, Magenta's jack-of-all-trades, who's keyboards, guitar and bass playing are all first rate throughout. He's also made sure that this album offers something a little different for the band, which will be appreciated in the long run. As expected from a Magenta release, his mixing and production is superb as always, crisp and clear.

The lyrics on `Chameleon', as on many Magenta albums, are frequently very relatable, and I think this is one of the great strengths of this band. We all know plenty of progressive artists that write very cryptic and wordy lyrics, so to be able to really get into what this band writes is very appreciated. Magenta often tell wonderful and vivid stories, filled with human feeling and experience.

One of the highlights of the album that comes out of nowhere is Chris Fry's superb acoustic instrumental solo piece appropriately called `Reflections'. Short but sweet at a little over two minutes, it's a touching and heartfelt piece that wouldn't have sounded out of place on an Anthony Phillip's album. Chris has numerous beautiful guitar passages throughout the album, but I'm not always sure which parts are played by him and which by Rob, also credited to guitars. Anyway, I'm now very curious to look into Fry's recent solo album!

I also draw particular attention to the stunning orchestrated and ambient intro to `Guernica', before Christina's treated vocals add a very eerie presence! Simply perfect!

`Chameleon' covers all the sort of music that Magenta always does so well, with much variety, possibly influenced by Christina's own solo album from a little while back. Sometimes the album is a little too simplistic, and a few sections border in being a little dull, but I believe prog artists like this really enjoy once in a while easing up on complex arrangements, long running times and bloated concepts! In some ways, this album is a good `easy listening' prog album, one you put on every now and then as a background album without having to pay too much attention to it. Perhaps it works better in this way, being distracted by all the surface gloss and great sounds, than really dwelling on it to find that it's a little overly-simplistic and sometimes...whisper it, just a little bland.

In the end, not a very important progressive rock album, nor the band's best album - that would probably be `Seven' or personally to my ears the `Live at Real World' double album - OK, I'm kind of cheating, because I'm really thinking of the DVD concert version of that one! But `Chameleon' is very listenable, and Magenta are a terrific modern prog band, with great musicians fronted by a wondrous and sublime female vocalist. Onwards and ever upwards for this group!

Really 3 and a half stars!

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Send comments to Aussie-Byrd-Brother (BETA) | Report this review (#803381)
Posted Sunday, August 12, 2012 | Review Permalink

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