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The Samurai Of Prog

Crossover Prog

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5 stars Welcome to the amazing world of The Samurai of Prog again,and you are invited to be a part of another fascinating amazing musical journey!Here we have the fourth album of this amazing multi national band,and they did it again,in big style!LOST AND FOUND is a double album,and all the loyal fans of this immensely talented band are spoiled with a trully fantastic album,but also the most pretentious music lovers,old school,vintage prog-rock schoo tool!Definitelly,this album is a culmination of the huge talent of the musicians which compose TSOP!Let's start with the superbe aspect of the album,the look of it is trully fantastic,the colours and the fabulous artwork of Ed Unitsky are stunning!Not only the cover of the album looks fantastic,but the big booklet is absolutelly gorgeous!Being a double album,we have a massive dose of high quality vintage prog-rock,of the highest calibre possible,110 minutes of pure magic!All the classical ingredients of good old school prog are present here!Wonderful voices,great instrumental passages,an unique atmosphere,all greatly packaged in the impressive ,unique style of TSOP,which are stilll growing album after album!The impressive list of the guest musicians on the album is also a guarantee that what TSOP are delivering here,is only great quality music!110 minutes of pure magical music,that's absolutelly impressive and after a first audition ,all the music lovers will have the feeling that old school prog rock still have many great years ahead,because this wonderful music has no stylistic boundaries,and the imagination of it's authors seem to be endless!Hard to fing a particular song to put the accent on it,I see this album as a whole ensemble,a great piece of solid prog rock,but,to fully understand and admire the album at 100 %,there are many auditions necessary,that's for sure!The monster track-The demise- which compose the second cd of this double musical pearl,is a musical tour de force,a great amazing compositions,divided in many parts,but the monolithic structure of it is trully sensational! A great musical journey,as I've said before!The other tracks on ths cd1,are wonderful too,we can admire the masterful and clever way how the authors can put all thie classic prog clichees in a very intelligent and inspired form,to give the compositions such a solid identity!I repeat...not a single weak track,only high quality prog rock music,an ear candy for all good music lovers!Congratulations for TSOP musicians,for this superbe,magnificent album and thank you for continuing to deliver such high quality music nowadays!For me,this is a 5 stars album,a must have for all the fans of great prog rock music!
Report this review (#1561249)
Posted Thursday, May 12, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Multinational virtual band THE SAMURAI F PROG, steered by bassist Marco Bernard, continue tirelessly their pilgrimage into the 70's epic progressive rock. The core trio is again accompanied by a big cast of international prog musicians, and this time to the fullest extent keyboardist Stefan Renström and guitarist Johan Öijen (whoever they are). As you may remember, TSoP's first two albums contain covers of mostly well-known prog classics, and the music on The Imperial Hotel (2014) was composed by the keyboard-playing collaborators such as Robert Webb of ENGLAND. I was pretty enthusiastic for that work, but now I feel sort of exhausted and I'm not completely convinced of the material that originates from the mid/late 70's.

Actually my initial listening was coloured by negative thoughts of pretentiousness, the kind of "prog for prog's sake" that screamed for the table-cleaning tsunami of the punk movement. That is, these long and complex compositions left me rather cold emotionally (just like TULL's A Passion Play does). I even thought very cynically: what else to expect from originally shelved and unfinished works by relatively minor followers of YES, GENESIS and ELP, such as LIFT, CATHEDRAL and QUILL? On my second listening I began to admit the possibility that the closer you learn these tracks, the more you like them. For sure, all the musicians give their best, as if these pieces really were lost masterpieces that criminally never before were given a full treatment. It's the vocal department that I'm permanently least satisfied with.

'Preludin' is a complex instrumental originally written for PAVLOV'S DOG, featuring its guitarist Steve Scorfina. It's a bumpy ride, but Steve Unruh's flute and violin are used effectively. 'Along the Way' is a brief piano piece by David Myers, continuing the tradition of all TSoP albums. 20-minute 'Inception' originates from the archives of the US band LIFT. I don't much like the nasal voice of Unruh, but the Genesis/Yes/ELP influences are interesting to say the least.

'She (Who Must Be Obeyed)' - originally composed for ODYSSEY of which I have no specific knowlegde - features vocalist Jon Davison, whose high-pitched Jon Anderson imitation becomes a nuisance on this non-YES context. Anyway the sound is nice & warm with lots of Mellotron and Hammond. When we get to 'Plight of the Swan' sung in a Gabrielish manner by Unruh, I really begin to wish other kinds of vocalists. This one's probably going to remain as my least favourite here.

CD 1 approaches 53 minutes, but CD 2 is even longer with its sole track, an epic dealing with an adventurous quest for magical book (practically worth of a lengthy concept album of its own). The American band QUILL were heavily influenced by ELP and YES. The members are as usual, featured as guests. Sadly this 36-part piece plays as a single track on the CD player... There are beautiful instrumental passages, but again the vocals are the weak link IMHO, and frankly I have no big interest towards the extremely pretentious dramatic context. In the end, for me this monstrous epic is an exhausting time-stealer instead of an uplifting, magnificent listening experience that a prog epic ought to be.

All in all, the grandiose and complex prog itself gets only 3½ stars with all my negative remarks considered, but the lavish artwork of Ed Unitsky easily dictates how I round my rating!

Report this review (#1569982)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The multinational (based in Finland) project THE SAMURAI OF PROG is a venture that was started by Marco Bernard and Kimmo Porsti back in 2009, from 2010 and onwards also featuring the talents of Steve Unruh. They started out releasing an album mainly consisting of cover material, but have gradually started to incorporate a growing number of original compositions with successive productions. "Lost and Found" is their fourth studio album, and was released in the spring of 2016 by the Finnish label Seacrest Oy.

Those who know, love and treasure vintage-era symphonic progressive rock should take note of this double album straight way, at least those not already aware of its existence. This is a double feature of vintage compositions created in the vintage era, never officially released, that have been reworked and recorded by a quality set of musicians today. The performances are good, the production is good, and there's an air of well thought out, well developed and solid quality about this entire production. A delightful treat for the right audience.

Report this review (#1615999)
Posted Monday, September 26, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Formed during the recording of the Colossus Records/Musea various artists project 'Dante's Divine Comedy'(just one in a series of themed concept albums focusing on classical musical works and/or books) The Samurai Of Prog are a three-man collective who work in pretty much the same way as The Alan Parsons Project, with the core trio doing the bulk of writing and recording, whilst guest artists, some rather impressive, fill the gaps. Based in Finland, TSOP consists of Italian Marco Bernard, American Steve Unruh and local lad Kimmo Porsti, and since debuting have issued some seven full-length albums. And I mean full length. That's because your typical TSOP album usually clocks in at around 100 minutes, some times longer, and there is no shortage of full-on, symphonic, 1970's- style progressive rock to be had. Ever. Whilst earlier albums consisted of a mixture of original material and cover versions, later efforts, such as this 2016 effort, are completely original, and boy do Marco, Steve and Kimmo dig their classic prog. Clocking in at just under two hours, 'Lost & Found' is a beast of an package. Timewise, it's the other side of epic, and that's before you've begun to tackle the second disc, which features 'The Demise', a gloriously OTT epic which lasts a full fifty-seven minutes plus. Back in the day, artists who count as TSOP's major influences, the likes of Yes, Gentle Giant and Greenslade, were restricted by the amount of good-quality material you could fit on an album-length LP. Nowadays, that problem is no more, and group's like TSOP have taken the format from one extreme to another. Now, there is almost no limit to how long you want your prog epics to be, and as a result, you get albums like 'Lost & Found'. But, is it any good? Well, in technical terms, it's clear Bernard, Unruh and Portsi are all fine musicians, and there ability to attract some top European prog talent can be counted as bonus. In the 1970's and 1980's, Alan Parsons and Ed Woolfenden utilised the same formula, and a number of established rock and pop players, to enhance their albums content, and for the most part it worked well. On 'Lost & Found', TSOP are backed by ex-Pavlov's Dog guitarist Steve Scorfina, Unitopia vocalist Mark Trueack and former Glass Hammer frontman Jon Davison, to name a few, but the bulk of the instrumental work is carried about by the main threesome. The music is inventive, crisply-played and wonderfully-light, but also overly-slick, with the group's reliance of computer-generated sounds sometimes distracting from the album's overall feel. 'Lost & Found' is a throwback to the age of the 1970's, but sounds too much like an album made in the 2010's. The major problem, however, is of course the length. This is an album that could have easily been half-as-long and just0-as-good, if not better. The Disc Two track 'The Demise' is relentlessly overbearing, despite a strong start, and after 25mins most listeners would have surely run out of patience. In the end, 'Lost & Found' is the kind of album that deserves praise for it's sheer ambition and vision. Bernard, Unruh & Porsi are true modern prog titans. It's just some of us like our prog a little less titan-esque. Rich, elegant and full of strong musical performancea, this is still prime progressive rock, though it takes a stong will and plenty of spare time to sit through in it's entirety. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2019
Report this review (#2251295)
Posted Saturday, September 14, 2019 | Review Permalink

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