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THE GARDEN

Unitopia

Crossover Prog


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Unitopia The Garden album cover
3.51 | 130 ratings | 17 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1

1. One Day (2:27)
2. The Garden (22:35)
3. Angeliqua (9:50)
4. Here I Am (3:19)
5. I Wish I Could Fly (6:51)
6. Inside The Power (4:31)


Disc 2

1. Journeys Friend (16:28)
2. Give And Take (5:09)
3. When Im Down (5:41)
4. This Life (4:47)
5. Love Never Ends (3:48)
6. So Far Away (2:11)
7. Dont Give Up Love (7:49)
8. 321 (5:31)




Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Mark Trueack / Vocals
- Sean Timms / Guitar, Keyboard
- Matt Williams / Guitar
- Monty Ruggiero / Durms
- Shireen Khemlani / Bass
- Tim Irrgang / Percussion

Releases information

Released on InsideOut Records,
79912 IOMCD 307

Thanks to king by-tor for the addition
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UNITOPIA The Garden ratings distribution


3.51
(130 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
25%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
46%
Good, but non-essential (24%)
24%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

UNITOPIA The Garden reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A give and take album from down under.

After a three year wait, this Australian band Unitopia has followed up on their debut with this massive undertaking. The Garden is a very ambitious album from the band, a double album containing multiple epic suites and a myriad of influences that come to mind right off the first listen. If there's one thing that this band misses the mark on it's creating a completely original album, but still, the band succeeds in making a very enjoyable album that should please just about every kind of listener other than those who like to stick completely to the more Rock In Opposition side of things. This album is highly melodic, highly retro, but very good.

The influences of this band do tend to shine on this album. People looking for the newest-latest-greatest innovators in the scene today won't find them here, this band can be compared to many others in the genre. They've taken pages out of the books of the likes of The Flower Kings in their approach to create sophisticated symphonic rock when it comes to the longer tracks, while at other times they sound like The Ladder era Yes in some of the sappier songs such as Don't Give Up Love. They can be heavy and brutal as proven in the short and astounding stand-out rocker, This Life, a wonderful song with a demanding vocal line with some grumble behind it in the chorus and a riff that will make fans of heavier music very happy. Other times the band decides to be more on the calm side of things as proven in the nicely piano driven Here I Am, which shows a softer side of the band with a delicate vocal line that eventually bursts into full motion while still retaining the sensitive feel. Although likely the biggest standout among the short songs is the final offering on the discs, the blistering 321, with it's heavy tones, shouting vocals and graphic lyrics.

If there's one thing you can't accuse this band of doing, it's writing filler. Peer bands in the overblown symphonic category have often been attacked for making improvisational instrumental songs that feel more like an engagement of self indulgence than a piece of music to entertain and capture an audience. This band plays it safe in that department, which is both good and bad, since fans of the more experimental side of music won't find anything to quench that appetite, although I Wish I Could Fly (Part 1) does become rather hypnotically beautiful in it's orchestration at times, and rather grand thanks to it's layers of instruments which is carried on through (Part 2), with some pleasing melodies throughout. For the most part, though, when this band isn't playing a massive suite they can probably be found in the solace of the more pop/rock side of things. Angeliqua is an example of this, a song that is lengthy and features some fine and impressive guitar work near the end, but never becomes truly captivating thanks in part to a rather light-hearted chorus and bouncier segments. Give And Take is another example of this, although this one is more concise in format and a little darker in tone, this one features some wonderful orchestration once again reminiscent of The Flower Kings before moving into a fairly safe format.

One thing that becomes interesting throughout is the use of the vocals. Mark Trueack is a very unusual progressive vocalist for a retro band, most of whom usually aim for someone high-pitched a la Yes. Kudos to Mark then, whose low and distinct vocals fit all of the tunes on the album. While the vocals tend to be overused at times and there feels like there could be more room for jamming between the multitude of musicians. However, given the style leaning towards a more poppish feel reminiscent of late-90s Yes mixed with The Flower Kings it does kind of work.

The standout pieces of the album, as likely predicted, are the lengthiest pieces. The Garden is the first of which, and the second track on the album after a brief intro song. This stands as a token piece for the band thanks to its various sections and impressive percussion work throughout. There's even a middle instrumental section where the band whips out some pleasant jazz piano after embarking on a middle-eastern favored journey for a couple of minutes. Of course, like just about every 20+ minute piece, it ends with the giant grand finale and an explosion of symphonic themes. Journey's Friend is the other lengthy song on the bill, this one clocking at 16-minutes, and it's an entirely different beast. This song has that edge which Unitopia decides to bring out every once in a while (moreso on the second disc, it seems) with heavy riffs and cataclysmic sections, including some very heavy parts with vocals that bring Brian Johnson (AC/DC) to mind, I suppose that style of singing may just be inherent to Aussies. While it does have a full out jazz jam and a slow percussion driven section, this one is mostly heavy and very interesting.

In the end this won't be the album that shakes down the progressive rock scene this year, but it is a good album. Unitopia may have played it a bit safe with this release, but it makes for a very pleasing listen. A good dose of progressive rock that includes some rockers and some moments that are easier on the ear. With 2 discs worth of material there's definitely something for everyone, if maybe nothing that will blow your mind. 3 stars out of 5 for a solid release that will appeal to fans of modern progressive retro rock. Recommended to people who loved The Ladder from Yes and the people who enjoy the bulk of The Flower Kings material.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#195218) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, December 27, 2008

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars When I saw this band delivered a double CD with two true epics on it and also read comments that it had resemblance with the illustrious Flower Kings, I thought: why is this band in crossover ? You would think this is a clear case of symphonic prog. But after listening to it for a few times I have to conclude: the teams were right. Despite the forementioned this is not symphonic prog. The music and style come closer to the latest album by Presto Ballet (Lost Art of Time Travel) than to anything by TFK. And Presto Ballet is also in crossover so it makes sense.

The two epics have slight symphonical aspects like length and some instrumental passages but they are neither extremely progressive nor very complex. They are very good tracks but nothing exceptional. The sound also reminds a bit of Cryptic Vision and Magic Pie but that's the sound and not the style. There is not really a specific style detectable at this album. Sometimes ballad-like, sometimes heavy, sometimes rocky and sometimes slightly progressive.

Besides the two epical tracks there's the lengthy Angeliqua that appeals to me, especially the great guitar solo at the end. The other, shorter songs, are mostly nice but rarely excellent. It can only lead to one rating in the end and that has to be three stars. Slightly rounded down in this case.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#207094) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 14, 2009

Review by The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The Garden that is lacking delights

Unitopia is definitely a hard band to categorize, well at least this album is. Unitopia is a band that likes a big variety of styles, and really wants to play them all, sometimes all together, or sometimes seperated. They include to their music jazz fusion, world music, pop, hard rock/metal and of course prog, mainly Symphonic, however not in the straightest sense, since you cannot expect the mellotron neither abundant synths, yet the compositions and influences are more in the Symphonic vein, making it valid to call them that to some extent. Though, like I said, the band really wants to play lots of genres, and not really focus in only one, so you can't expect a full-blown Prog album, if not a crossover of the already mentioned styles.

The band, as you may have already guessed, takes influences from a wide variety of bands, however, sometimes, they take way too much from a band and really ripping it off. It's the second ''epic'' I'm talking about, Journey's Friend, and the song that they rip-off is All of the Above by Transatlantic, however it's not in it's entirety a carbon copy, but the intro part and outro of Journey's Friend are so similar that really makes you skip the song, even if musically it's really good. Luckily the two middle parts, save the song from total ''copycats''. Despite that, on the other hand, you got a completely unique ''epic'' by them, the title track, The Garden, in which unifies all the styles mentioned on the first paragraph, all these styles are played fantastic, and the structure is almost 100% theirs! That is, the exception of the last part of the epic, 'The Way Back Home', while it's really good, you can't stop thinking about the last section of Supper's Ready. Unitopia could have cut the song to 17 minutes, ending with the fabolous section, 'Realization', which has the necessary strength to end such a great epic, and it would have really ended wonderful like that, still it is, just that I skip that last section I mentioned before....

Anyways, despite the 2 long song, the rest of the album, is pretty non-substancial. Only 1 of the rest, being a Prog song, Angeliqua, which shares a fair bit with Heavy Rock, in the end being a great song, though could have been more elaborated, despite what the length seems to offer. There's Inside the Power, with again the presence of the string-section, which is pretty good; then there's Give and Take, a enjoyable pop song with world music roots; also, Don't Give Up Love is a well done mix of world music and pop, very much like The Messenger by Yes, ocassionaly, on their World music inspired album. But then, there's Amelia Dream, a arabic-esque instrumental, which really doesn't fit at all with the album's sound, however it does fit with the cover-art and the CD package, which seems pretty much like a video-game package, in which coincidentally, Amelia's Dream does sound like a soundtrack to the video-game 'Pharaoh'. The rest is pretty much like the already stated songs in this last paragraph: enjoyable to some extent, though not really something you're expecting from a Prog band.

To end, I must say, the band is very competent and I'm sure they can do much better as songwriter, since as musicians in their respective instruments they're not lacking anything, but as song-writers, they do have to improve a lot with the exception, of the already highlighted, The Garden, which is truly fantastic, and makes the album worthwhile, and should be the right path they must follow for future releases. I must give a honorable mention to Shireen Khemlani for her always present jazzy bass, which gives a lot of diversity to the music of Unitopia.

A decent album in general, in which they could have made a compilation of the best of both discs into one, to make a stronger release as a whole. Still worthwhile music those for fans of The Ladder by Yes due to it's world music influence, as well as for modern symphonic prog fans, which are looking less in-your-face symphonic epics, as well as with a fair share with pop music in general.

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Send comments to The Quiet One (BETA) | Report this review (#217512) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I happen to stumble upon this CD by pure chance, but I got say I was curious about it when I heard it was on PA. Not too many prog bands come from Australia as far as I know. And Unitopia does have the necessary fine, skillfull musicians needed for such enterprise. And Mark Trueack has a different but very good voice to give them a distinctive sound. The Garden is their second efford, and a daring one, since itīs a double CD with lots of music in it.

The bandīs main problem is not their technique or capacity of handling many kinds of music. They surely can do that with their eyes closed. However, The Garden does not have an overall sound that ties together its many stylistic changes and moods. Sometimes the feeling is that you are hearing a compilation of various bands with the same singer. And not everyone works. Which is a pity, since it is clear that those guys are talented. The first songs are very promising: after the short One Day, that serves as an intro, comes the massive 22 minute epic title track. Itīs the recordīs finest work and even if not really a masterpiece it is however very pleasant and interesting mix of prog rock with some jazz rock/fusion touches.

Angeliqua continues in the same vein, but gets a little boring after a while. From then on the band loses all direction and the rest of the album is like a bunch of tracks thrown together without much criteria. Even the other epic Journeys Friend suffers from the same lack of style, going from prog to jazz to hard rock to metal without much coherence. The short songs are the same hit or miss case, and it becomes more evident with each track you hear on the second disc. The Garden has a very fine production which enhances the bands great skill and competence. But it also reveals that they still have a lot to learn on the songwriting department before tackling again on such bold move as this one.

Conclusion: quite interesting CD from a still promising band, but Unitopia needs to find their own sound, fast. My rating: something between 2,5 to 3 stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#218224) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 25, 2009

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'The Garden' - Unitopia (7/10)

There is something that frustrates me when it comes to reviewing this album. There are songs on here that I find fantastic, moving and utterly inspired; masterfully compiled pieces. On the other hand, there are songs that I find a bit less 'inspired,' fulfilling little other purpose than to fill the great amount of space two separate discs can offer.

As an overall product however, who am I to disagree with an album that has two discs worth of (at the very least) decent Symphonic Prog music, boasting a total of two epics...?

I think the most dissapointing thing about Unitopia's sophomore release is that it starts off so well, then one begins to realize after the three songs or so play out, that the entire album doesn't necessarily follow suit with the epic-standard of quality. After listening to the first quarter of the album, I was convinced I was listening to a masterpiece. Things start to take a turn for the worse, however...

Songs such as 'Amelia's Dream' and 'Give And Take' -while being listenable enough- don't necessarily attract the same amount of praise I might give the longer, more involved tracks. The album as a whole however, is very well recorded and engineered, featuring multiple layers of sound, even on the 'mainstream' leaning songs.

While the album feels a bit emotionally hollow (the songs are generally uber-peppy) it's indeniable that there is a great amount of intelligence going into the production and creation of Unitopia's music. As a result, while I am a bit conflicted about what rating this work should truly get (it has it's masterpiece qualities as well as it's non-essential qualities) I think that while a prog listener could probably live without 'The Garden' in their collection, it is a very enjoyable collection of music, and at times, an excellent piece of retrogressive prog music.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#219864) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, June 04, 2009

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars An interesting retro-prog band from down under, UNITOPIA'S second studio effort is an ambitious concept double-album filled with references to YES, PINK FLOYD and, most obviously, GENESIS. A whopping one-hour-and-forty-minutes in length, spread over 15 tracks, this is unashamedly full-blown progressive rock with bells on, featuring colourful epics, slow, maudlin ballads and up-tempo, fist-pumping rock numbers by the bucket-full. The album tells the somewhat convoluted tale of a group of travellers stumbling across the Garden of Eden, and the various adventures they have in this overwhelming land of beauty, each side starting with a thunderous, 15-minute-plus epic that sets the tone for the ensuing, shorter pieces. A five-man, one-woman line-up, Unitopia are led by Mark Truack(vocals), and augmented by Sean Timms(keys), Matt Williams(guitar), Shireen Khemlani(bass), Monty Ruggiero(drums) and Tim Irrgang(percussion). 'The Garden' also features three guest musicians, with Mike Stewart(saxophone), Amanda Timms(flute) and Kiki Cekarik (vocals) all adding their instrumental/vocal expertise to the mix, whilst The Amicus String quartet are also called in to add classical textures ? in an atypical prog fashion ? to the retro-based but fairly modern-sounding material. In truth, many of today's retro-prog acts just don't have the budget to achieve the grand, epic compositions and albums released by the likes of YES or GENESIS, and their reliance on computer-programmes such as Q-Bass or such-like to produce or enhance various instrumental sounds(such as the organ, mellotron or moog) renders the overall feel a tad too sharp and clean, lacking the murky, gritty authenticity of the 1970's forefathers sound. However, THE GARDEN is an enjoyable and inventive affair, with side 2 in particular impressing with it's grandiose, five-part opener JOURNEY'S FRIEND, the album's most complete piece. Lead-vocalist Mark Truack's deep, baritone-flavoured voice - a kind of mix between that of Peter Gabriel's and Indie-group Elbow's Guy Garvey ? is strong and commanding, his voice at it's most effective when deployed on the slower numbers that dominate side 1. Very few 21st century Prog groups are going to emulate the feats of the genre's major players, and, despite an obvious commitment to all things prog, Unitopia can't either. However, fans of modern-prog, GENESIS, YES, THE TANGENT or SPOCK'S BEARD may find much to enjoy from a talented, if somewhat un-original line-up who, with time, can only get better. We await more epic Australian concept-pieces with baited breath. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2009

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#220203) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 07, 2009

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
3 stars My first prog album from the Southern hemisphere. Australia has never seemed very good rock country to me in general (that is, those few bands/artists I know are the kind of rock/pop I don't enjoy), but it's probably just coincidental since they are so few. UNITOPIA is a prog band that actually could come from whatever country, I didn't hear any Australian taste - if such thing exists. In a blindfold test I'd guess they're American.

My first impression of this double disc was, in short, "nothing very special". The first CD is better, the second one (I accidentally played that first) falls more in the all too typical category of modern prog that favours moments of attacking guitar sound even in the otherwise calmer tracks. There are long epics (over 20 minutes) which have nice moments but don't raise above the majority of contemporary prog. Their compositions are not very unique, impressive or clever. They mix various influences from metal, classical and world music but in the end the final result is something you've heard dozens of times. Their songwriting level is not ready for a double album with epics and all. The very first possible thought of this being a fantastic album is little by little fading away during the listening and is perhaps turned into frustration (had I listened the Disc One first, this would have been my case more clearly).

Maybe I sound too harsh. Their playing is tight and many songs are quite good after all. Not unforgettable but enjoyable. A pity that they have a female bass player (and a very good one!) but she doesn't sing. Vocals are not bad but quite common. There could have been more instrumentals with keyboards taking the leading role (there are a couple short ones). The guitar style is not the best possible for a prog band, as far as my taste is concerned. 2,5 stars.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#295036) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well what can I add, in comparison to all the other reviews I've read here?

Actually the label of a "Crossover-Band" is right, as these Australian guys are able to make a combination of such "Retro-70's prog- rock" with some elements of jazz, as well as a mix of pop progressive in the vein of "The Ladder" by Yes...ok the musicianship and the songwriting are very interesting (without forgetting their good composition), but unfortunately the music is also quite "derivative"within a lot of music passages- and such feature can disturb us just a little bit, at the end!!

In fact, after listening to it for a couple of times, I've found the same defects inside the present album that I recognized in the works by Nightwatch/The Watch, a band from Milan I know well (especially when in the early nineties Lethe, my former group, let them participate a Prog Festival in Italy for the first time, organized by our bass-guitar player and I began to understand that the old style by Gabriel could be an akward reference to be emulated for the Italian guys...). So, also in this case and by regarding it as a typical feature of so many modern prog bands all over the world, which can fall "victims" of some common places in the progressive music nowadays, UNITOPIA doesn't make any exception!!

Nevertheless, the sweet melodies are not bad and their playing is often a top notch, even though in the second part (especially inside disc 2) their resemblance between them and for instance Porcupine Tree (in the vein of Pink Floyd) or some other British pop bands like Coldplay, doesn't make me feel so thrilled, but nevermind...the present work- dated 2008- is probably their best album, being quite worth to be checked out at least, above all when They abandon a pop style and play a sort of hard rock; but it's not a problem after all!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#493038) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Unitopia - this australian band formed around 2002 releasing so far 4 albums. The garden from 2008 issued at german InsideOut label is their best work for sure and without any doubts. This is a fantastic journey, in fact is a journey who last about almost 2 hours of music. Is a double album whwre each musicin shine, even the labum lacks in originality, is not a problem, the progressive rock offered as many qualities and many great memorable parts. First CD with the mosnter epic title track, clocking around 22 min, is a pure bliss for me, lots of tempo changes, moods, from mellow parts to more edgy , this is a fantastic pieces, spacey keyboards and guitars, furious solos all is here at the full capacity. From the excellent vocal arrangements of Mark Trueack through the sublime guitar and keyboard parts to the rhythmic section this album desearves attention from any prog listner, definetly one of the best albums of the last decade coming from Australia when talking about prog music.. Angeliqua is another highlit, is quite clear that Unitopia manage to be more intresting and captivating in lenghtier pieces, in the shorter one they are ok but not really impressive. On CD 2, the opener is another long tune Journey's Friend with almost 17 min of greatness, is quite at same level almost with The garden. THis life is another great tune, and the rest as on first CD are shorter and not quite on par with the rest, but not bad. So, all in all a great album that I like it, definetly is needed more then few spins to catch the over atmosphere, but in the end definetly worth it. Good eclectic prog with symphonic touches and ome jazz elenets added, the sax sounding quite intresting in many parts. 4 stars.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#966659) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, May 30, 2013

Latest members reviews

4 stars I have to admit - I started my listen to Unitopia's "The Garden" (totally a stumble-over find) while on tour of East Coast in USA in December. I was so set back by the title track, I couldn't listen to the rest of the 2-CD set. I played that track while in my hotel room in Buffalo, N.Y. at least ... (read more)

Report this review (#1114048) | Posted by marcchauvette702 | Monday, January 13, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars "Do not judge the album by its cover!" I confess that this was the most beautiful skin on a cd, but the music is not something visual, we see more shows with any media. In his second album, Unitopia puts the hand in the fire "and launches a double album, may not have had contact with" Close ... (read more)

Report this review (#280782) | Posted by nandprogger | Friday, May 07, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Actually this is a good album - but, with respect to one of the reviewer's above, there is filler and there is a truly great album trying to get out. What's interesting is that the "great" album is the one without the more proggy tracks. Dump the opening One Day / Title Track 25 minute opus and ... (read more)

Report this review (#255581) | Posted by moulsham | Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars My first meeting it with group this album exactly Unitopia. Climate of this album is made for me. They hit for I easy tone of instrument ideally. Big plus for band for adjusting climate of album for graphics. Unfortunately, it happens seldom. I like such ideal connections. Realization on very ... (read more)

Report this review (#229885) | Posted by jacek | Tuesday, August 04, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I truly enjoyed this release by Unitopia from the first listen. There's an intriguing mix of new and old-school prog, an occasional burst of metal, and even a jazz flourish. This is a band brimming with inspiration and very imaginative songwriting with lots of interesting fills and runs. I don't ... (read more)

Report this review (#221984) | Posted by beebs | Saturday, June 20, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I haven't heard much progressive stuff from Australia, but from what I've heard so far Unitopia is definitely the most interesting. It's hard to say what kind of music Unitopia performs. Prog Archives categorized the band as a Crossover Prog and I'm inclined to agree that it fits quite well to U ... (read more)

Report this review (#198920) | Posted by therek | Tuesday, January 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Unitopia - The Garden - Review UNITOPIA - (yu-nih-to-pi-E): meaning living together as one in a place of ideal perfection especially in law, government and social conditions. You may say that I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one... How many bands these days make double albums? Only ... (read more)

Report this review (#197764) | Posted by Foxtrottresspass | Thursday, January 08, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This record is acclaimed as one of the best releases and revelations of the year in the prog circles. I don't quite understand why. It has really nice shell - incredibly varied instruments (exotic rhythmic, use of woodwinds, orchestral arranges), changing styles, good instrumental skills, some sw ... (read more)

Report this review (#195212) | Posted by stewe | Saturday, December 27, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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