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Anton Roolaart - The Plight of Lady Oona CD (album) cover

THE PLIGHT OF LADY OONA

Anton Roolaart

Symphonic Prog


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richardh
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is Anton's second full album release , the first being Dreamer some 7 years ago. This falls into that very melodic symphonic prog bracket occupied by the likes of David Minasian and Nick Magnus. Do not expect dark edgy music when you enter here but rather lush orchestral style arrangements adding guitars and synths with a measured calm approach. I've seen the term 'Dad Prog' banded about when describing this sort of thing but there is nothing wrong in my book with relaxing music. More the point is whether its actually any good? Americans would say ''Hell YES!!''.

The opening track Gravity features what seems like an orchestra (not a real orchestra but its hard to tell that) and is very mellow and slow. Quite a nice start. The second track 'The Stars Falls Down' doesn't exactly pick up the pace but does include a bit more guitar and piano. More substantial instrumentally and a very good track. So far so good but nothing especially earth shattering. Some might even find this all a bit 'sugary' but I think it manages to avoid this just about.

The centre piece of the album is undoubtedly the title track The Plight Of Lady Oona. This is the only 10 minute plus track and its very obvious that a lot has gone into this as a composition. You hear the mandolins for the first time as well as synths that could have come from some long lost PFM album. This is just utterly gorgeous dreamy melodic symph prog of the very highest order. Anton demonstrates an almost Steve Howe like quality with his use of electric and acoustic guitars. Must also make a special mention for the excellent bass work of Vinnie Puryear and quality laid back drums of Michael Frasche (only appearing on this track). There is a section that could be inspired by Turn Of The Century and although its never a copy I think this is the vibe that Anton is going for. The whole thing is topped off by a guest appearance by Annie Haslam. Her voice still holds up remarkably well and this is the cherry top the icing top the cake. An absolute gem of a track.

The next two tracks are under five minutes long but Anton never veers away from the dreamy mood of the whole thing. I wonder whether he was tempted to throw in an 'up tempo' track to break things up? I guess not! That lovely piano and bass work is still well evident plus the orchestral feel once again. There are hints of some heavier guitar coming in but its kept well in check. The drums get a little busy on Standing In The Rain reminding me of a brilliant Al Stewart track from the 80's called Where Are They Now. Good stuff.

Memoires is a stunning piece opening with acoustic guitar that quite honestly Steve Hackett would be proud of. Actually without being told otherwise if someone played this to me I would just assume it was Hackett. It is that good.

The final track is 8 minutes long and is freak out heavy metal extravaganza full of screaming vocals and fast drumming. Sorry just joking! Of course Anton maintains the mood that he is so obviously focused on. A children's voice and birds twittering and someone gentling tapping. A bit of flute comes into the equation as well. I haven't mentioned the vocals at this point and that is perhaps remiss of me. Anton has a very pleasant voice with a reasonable range and does a good job imparting a good deal of emotion. This last track is maybe the best track vocally and even threatens to get 'heavy' at a certain point. It even goes a little bit dark although nothing too 'scary' unless unicorns and teddy bears give you the willies.

In summation this is one big comfortable sofa of an album. Big cushions and relaxing , ideal listening if you have just been shredded by a Riverside or Mars Volta album.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#1166137)
Posted Sunday, April 27, 2014 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars Seven years ago I had the chance to make the first official review of ANTON ROOLAART'S debut album "Dreamer" the same day it was officially released and was a pleasant surprise. Since then, a friendship grew between us, but I was worried to never see a second album, because the debut one was really outstanding

The only problem I found then relied in the vocals (Not bad but more appropriate for Prog Metal), so I was a bit worried when I read that Anton was singing again, but for my surprise, the vocals in The Plight of Lady Oona" are impressive, instead of his previous aggressive style, ANTON ROOLAART, decided to use his voice in the style of Roger Waters, adding more texture to the dramatic atmosphere.

The visual impression of The Plight of Lady Oona" is very positive, because of the delicate cover painted by Anton himself and the carefully crafted booklet, but even when the art is very nice, we have to focus in the music, so let's pass to what matters....The music:

The record is opened by Gravity, a beautiful Prog power ballad where the vocals blend perfectly with the orchestral arrangements (played by Rave Tesar, and by Anton on synths and Mellotron) and the electric guitar with a "Gilmour" touch, creating a heavy atmosphere that falls over the listener as thick mist that covers us with a powerful blend of sounds and different moods. Asked Anton about the female voice on the song and he told me it was a sample called "Persian Diva", that he managed to adapt perfectly to the song.

In Stars Fall Down, Anton manages to maintain the oneiric atmosphere, but this time, the music is really dramatic, again the violin solos played on the Mellotron are simply breathtaking and the vocals heartbreaking, this album keeps getting better with each track..

The Plight Of Lady Oona is the central piece of the album, a fantastic 14 minutes epic that has everything a Symphonic fan loves, starting with Annie Haslam as guest vocalist, impressive keyboard solos, mandolin, acoustic guitar reminiscent of Steve Howe (Reminded me a bit of Turn of the Century, a killer rhythm section with Vinnie Puryear in the bass and Michael Frasche in the drums. Don't expect radical changes instead enjoy one of the most cohesive musical pieces of the decade.

In Standing in the Rain Anton maintains the dreamy and mysterious sound of the album, seems calmed, but the underlying aggressiveness provided by the almost claustrophobic atmosphere captivated me all along the song, the persistent drumming seem to announce a strong explosion that never occurs, but that's where the suspense really captured me

Memoires and the closer The Revealing Light complement perfectly, the first one almost as an acoustic guitar intro and the other as an emotional explosion where Anton retakes the sound of his debut...Great way to end a great album.

Now comes the hard part of the rating: Being that ANTON ROOLART is a good friend, people could believe that this relation influenced my review, but as I told Anton, I would never give the CD a star that I don´t believe the album deserves.

Seven years ago I rated Dreamer with 4 solid stars, but now Anton's music is more mature and offers us an almost flawless release that deserves no less than 5 solid stars...Hope we don't have to wait another seven years for the third record.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#1174652)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2014 | Review Permalink

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