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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Keyboards Triangle CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

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erik neuteboom
4 stars This CD (the sub-title is "Keyboard trio tribute") is a collaboration from two great, very sumptuous keyboard-driven bands: Ars Nova and Gerard. They have made their own versions of seven compositions from ELP (two tracks), TRACE, PFM, RICK WAKEMAN, IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO and BANCO. You can always argue about the value of playing covers. But in my opinion these two splendid Japanese progrock bands have succeeded in making an interesting cover-CD. First because all musicians are very talented, second they play so tight, dynamic and powerful and third both Ars Nova as Gerard have succesfully added their own, very sumptuous sound and musical vision to the original songs. If you listen to "Toccata" (from ELP) performed by Gerard, it's incredible that this music can sound even more bombastic than the original! And in BANCO's "La conquista della posizione eratta" you will be stunned by the Jobson-like violin sound from the Korg synthesizer and the superdynamic rhythm-section. The final part includes wonderful violin-Mellotron waves and slowly fading harpsicord play, beautiful. Ars Nova does very well in "Birds medley" (by Rick van der Linden's TRACE), "Epilogo" from IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO (their album "Ys" is a captivating and alternating but very complex 'classic') and "Tarkus" (from ELP) featuring varied and exciting duo- keyboardplay (great Moog flights and classical orchestrations) and also a very dynamic and strong rhythm-section. Very surprising is the choir-Mellotron intro in "Tarkus", Keith Emerson refuses to use this unique instrument. The other two tracks are from Gerard. First "Catharine Parr" (RICK WAKEMAN) that features the amazing talents from Toshio Egawa on keyboards (piano, organ, Mellotron, synthesizers), driven by that high- energy rhythm-section. Especially those parts with the GRIEG-inspired synthesizer flights, supported by lush organ and Mellotron waves, sound impressive. Second the known piece "Fourholes in the ground", from PFM including those quick and catchy Moog runs and the violin-Mellotron waves. Gerard changes this song into an up-tempo piece with lots of bombastic keyboard sounds. Not every Italian progrock aficionado will be pleased with the result and I have to admit that on one hand I miss the warm atmosphere and Italian vocals but on the other hand Gerard has given their own, very distinctive dynamic and sumptuous turn to this song and they deserve credit for that is my opinion. IF YOU LIKE BOMBASTIC KEYBOARD-DRIVEN PROG, THIS CD IS A MUST!!
Report this review (#41506)
Posted Thursday, August 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This features 2 Japanese prog bands Gerard and Arsnova doing versions of Rick Wakeman,ELP,Trace,Banco and PFM tracks.Its all very heavy stuff.Gerard will never win awards for subtlety as the bash their way through Toccata and Ann Of Cleves.Bombastic to the extreme,I love it! The highlight of the album though has to be Arsnoa's version of Tarkus.The keyboard work is exemplary and creates some wonderfull textures.Highly impressive.All the album is intrumental btw so this version of Tarkus has synths taking Greg Lake's vocal role,and very effectively I should add.To repeat the previous reviewer:IF YOU LIKE BOMBASTIC KEYBOARD-DRIVEN PROG, THIS CD IS A MUST!!
Report this review (#43456)
Posted Friday, August 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A big thanks to Erik Neuteboom for the recommend on this. Best $10 CD I've ever bought. This album is a keyboard fanatic's dream. Fans of overblown bombastic keyboard playing must surely get this album. Two Japanese groups, Gerard and Ars Nova tackle, with their rather apparent skills, 7 prog chesnuts. Having seen a couple of timely comments on some 'cover' threads let me address a point or two as to why you should get this. First off, these are incrediblly complex, technically demanding pieces of music. It is a joy and actually quite interesting to hear other musicians take a stab at works done by the 'gods' of prog keyboard. These are not straight up covers either. Each group adds it's own take on the song, without destroying the integrety of the songs.

For example, Toccata right out of the gate will amaze you with the technical prowess of Gerard's Toshio Egawa. While the keyboads are first rate and capture the shear intensity and bombast of the piece... I do miss some of Palmer's killer fills though. Gerard also covers and does alter Banco's La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta but you know, I have to admit I enjoy what they did with it maybe even more than the original. The other two Gerald covers of Rick Wakeman's Catherine Parr and PFM's Four Holes in the Ground are fabulous as well. This album was my first exposure to Gerard but was impressed enough that I've ordered additional albums from them. Highly recommended group to check out.

Next up is Ars Nova whom I had heard, having a copy of the excellent Book of the Dead album. They start up with an excellent Birds melody from Trace, and a stunning performance of Tarkus that while true to the original is Ars Nova's own. Ars Nova really has fun with Il Balletto di Bronzo's massive Ys album closer Epilogo. The 7 note bass figure that is a bit subdued on Ys is just MASSIVE on this version. Sounds great on maximum volume. Being such a fan of the original song and the album. I found Ars Nova's version very impressive and intersting to listen to.

This album is a bit hard to rate. I really want to rate it 5 stars, it think quality-wise it should get no less. However this album hardly rates as an essential masterpiece of prog. It has specialized appeal to fans of the groups and music and to keyboard or symphonic afficionados.

4 stars.. .but consider it worthy of five for the music itself.

Michael (aka micky)

Report this review (#82986)
Posted Thursday, July 6, 2006 | Review Permalink


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