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David Minasian

Symphonic Prog

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David Minasian Random Acts of Beauty album cover
3.89 | 164 ratings | 17 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Masquerade (12:32)
2. Chambermaid (8:53)
3. Storming the Castle (5:29)
4. Blue Rain (7:44)
5. Frozen in Time (14:37)
6. Summer's End (8:00)
7. Dark Waters (5:12)

Total Time 62:27

Line-up / Musicians

- David Minasian / keyboards (grand piano, Mellotron, harpsichord, Moog, pipe organ, organ), cello, violin, oboe, flute, recorder, clarinet, French horn, cornet, dulcimer, sitar, acoustic 12-string guitar, classical guitar, bass, drums, percussion, voices, lead & harmony vocals
- Justin Minasian / electric lead & rhythm guitars, acoustic & classical lead guitars (2-7)

- Guy Pettet / drums (3 & 5)
- Don Ray Reyes Jr. / drums (5)
- Nick Soto / electric rhythm guitar (2)

Special Guest:
- Andrew Latimer / guitars, vocals (1)

Releases information

CD ProgRock Records PRR 843 (2010)

Thanks to AtomicCrimsonRush for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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DAVID MINASIAN Random Acts of Beauty ratings distribution

(164 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

DAVID MINASIAN Random Acts of Beauty reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An uplifting work of beauty that calms the raging seas of dark prog.

After hearing the latest release from David Minasian I feel my spirit has been lifted up and it brings emotional warmth, such is the power of the lyrics, the huge keyboard motifs and dynamic guitar breaks. The music is all gentle and lucid, ethereal and dreamy at times, but never too dark, rather a collection of reflective heartfelt compositions. It is easy to tell that the band members have poured their heart and soul into this album and it translates to the listener.

The album cover for a start is a beautifully realised portrait of a goddess in white with the Saturn rings and the waves ebbing around amidst a castle, perhaps an enchantress luring us into her charms, and it certainly reminds me of the album covers of more Gothic bands such as Epica or Nightwish. However there is nothing really Gothic on this album, and there are no female vocals. Instead there are conceptual songs that are rendered with fragility and serenity, beauty and tranquillity expressed in long instrumental breaks and soft vocals.

The opening composition 'Masquerade' is a master work of aural imagery. David's very soft reflective vocals are akin to Justin Hayward from the Moody Blues, which is no coincidence as David was initially inspired to get into music through hearing on the radio The Moody Blues' song 'Land of Make Believe'. David was intrigued by the style of the track with its juxtaposition of flute, guitar, melodies and mellotron and began to record similar material. He is a classically trained piano player and it shows on this album. The piano is beautifully executed throughout. The mellotron embellishments are superb and atmospheric. The guitar solo on 'Masquerade' is masterful and it comes from the dexterous playing style of Camel's legendary Andy Latimer. As a long time friend of David, Andy was happy to contribute to this track with his customary spacey lead guitar prowess. He makes that guitar cry and it lifts the melancholy mood to a new level. A synth solo follows and once again develops into a huge enhancement to the soundscape. The way the chords ascend reminds me of the uplifting sounds of Pink Floyd. One can feel the emotion in the music. At 4:36 there is a minimalist piano and then the time sig changes completely picking up the pace, a steady rock beat over multi layered violining guitars and a strong bassline. Once again the Pink Floyd style is evident. At 11:30 the vocals return after the lengthy instrumental break. The lyrics are about a girl who has walked away, a broken relationship. The guitars are so great on this final section, soaring and wailing over the wall of synthesizers. A fantastic start to the album.

'Chambermaid' begins immediately with the vocals, "close your eyes it's time to say goodnight.... don't be afraid when she turns out the light, she'll keep nightmares at bay until the break of day..." This composition has a gentle vocal delivery and the howling guitars of Justin Minasian and Nick Soto. The whole song has a centrepiece consisting of twin guitar playing and strong keyboard notes sustained beneath. This is a very dreamy lulling track, with lovely atmospherics, very different to the opening track in this sense, the guitars are more passive and poised.

'Storming The Castle' opens with a medieval feel with woodwind sounds and a pleasant piano motif. It begins slowly and then a ripping tempo crunches out, a surprisingly fresh progression from all the ambience and serenity previously. The killer riff features distorted guitar with an almost Black Sabbath type melody, 'Symptom of the Universe' springs immediately to mind. Then a blazing lead break follows until the piano adornment merges into the track. The drums and crash of cymbals from Guy Pettet joyously enhance the sound, balancing it on the edge of the precipice until the keyboards dominate again. The return of the synth riff follows and then a blistering lead guitar by Justin with frenetic arpeggios and speed picking that is a sheer delight. The exuberant speed and fractured time sig is a far cry from the works heard previously making this stand out as a rocking instrumental with outstanding riffing. One of my favourites on the album certainly.

'Blue Rain' is a work of aching beauty that brings things down again after the previous onslaught. A divine woodwind or flute sound using synth flows along the pretty piano melody. David's layered harmonious vocals chime in with some reflective lyrics of poetic beauty that really touches my emotions, "blue rain will soon be coming down, outside the weathered field shroud the parched and thirsty ground, storm clouds gather round the mountain to the West, my empty heart prepares for a futile night of rest, I lie awake without you waiting for the rising sun, wishing someday there would come a time when we could be as one, once you feel the rain you will never be the same, you can say I love you but heartaches will remain, hold me close to you hold me till the sun breaks through the clouds." I love those lyrics that portray that utter sense of loneliness when a loved one has departed or a lover has moved on. It is difficult to emulate these feelings without sounding acidic, but this song will touch many hearts who can relate to this desolate experience of loss. The drums kick in on the next verse lifting the sombre mood. The melody continues repeating some passages of words. The instrumental break is a simple formula of high Oboe or other wind instrument sounds then a gorgeous guitar lucidly flows over the musicscape. Justin's guitar has some beautiful licks and in a similar style to David Gilmour, he is able to form shapes of sound through huge string bends and subtle atonal picking. I am usually not as taken with love songs, but this track is an exception as it reaches the emotions without being pretentious; there is a striking sincerity in the lyrics and in the delivery.

'Frozen In Time' is an instrumental and the longest track clocking 14:37. It opens with a lengthy keyboard and guitar trade off, a very ambient texture of light and shade, tension and release that is well executed. The lead guitars are particularly good on this and I love the way they fade and a majestic cathedral organ takes over; a dominating and ethereal passage of ambience. The acoustic guitar picking of the Minasian brothers follows, a medieval lute is heard and a flute, a synthetic sound that is effective, chimes in. The track gets into fortissimo heavier territory at 7:20 with a soporific distorted guitar riff that is quite an intrusion breaking the tranquillity. It takes the track into a different realm like a thunder storm and then the rain falls gently, symbolised by piano scales and liquid synth flute lines. There is an airy feel with the tender nuances of layered keyboards and a playful piano collaboration. The symphonic impressions are executed as piano/clarinette and heavy guitar merges with tranquil lush synth strokes. The silky keyboard strings flow superbly along a musical stream and then a waterfall of guitars gushes forth. It is a masterful atmospheric symphonic instrumental.

'Summer's End' is next, beginning with a fragile acoustic guitar and gentle piano. The multilayered vocals are warm and inviting, "together we could mend the broken words, and fill our empty dreams again, just cast your tears out over the ocean, I walk with you through Summer's End". The next section is a very innovative instrumental break with weeping lead guitar and a wondrous synthesizer melody. It is a tour de force of melancholy nuances, acoustic and piano taking centre stage, with an emotional peak or climax in the centre piece, where the music ascends to a new horizon. The crescendo of heavy synthesizer contributes to the mystical journey of mood shifts from darkness to light. There are breaks in the music and a sudden burst of light rays through the dark clouds. The mood is saturated in sorrow but the music that builds injects a ray of hope. The fret melting lead work on this track is inspirational. A very strong definitive highlight of the album.

'Dark Waters' closes the album on a high note. It is an interplay of ambient textures, delightful piano/synth/clarinet trade offs and a heavy effect phased guitar that takes off into full flight. The atmosphere depicts rivers of tranquility on a summer's day with birds swooping over an orange sky. There are startling moments of minimalist touches where solitary piano is allowed to play. Thus the album ends on another peaceful instrumental for us to ponder on and add our own dream pictures.

The album is a work of beauty made possible by subtle keyboards and swooping washes of synthesizer. The drums crash in when necessary to represent the turmoil and breaking the isolated atmospheres. There are twists and turns where necessary but nothing overblown, nothing insensitive to the general melancholia mood. The album is wrapped in a gentle warm cocoon of harmony, without disruptive dissonance, therefore an easy listening collection of tracks to relax to. It is not without blistering guitar and drumming, with some outstanding bass lines, but the light fabric of the musical tapestry is held together with threads of piano and glowing synthesizer washes. I was pleasantly surprised and the music should appeal to a wide audience. Those who are not into the highly complex darkness of recent prog bands may find this, as I did, a breath of fresh air.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars I looked for this one after reading AtomicCrimsonRush´s extensive review (thanks for it, mate!). There is not much to add to it, except the fact that I loved the record. 2010 has surprised me a lot with the highly quality of many releases so far. I had never heard of this keyboardsman, but I´m glad to have found this beautiful symphonic prog gem. The sound is mostly gentle and dreamy, but - as any good symphonic rock is - it has many moods and swings. Some surprisingly heavy ones too like the second part of Storming the Castle (great guitar riff!). One hour of pure great music that does not have single second of boredom on it.

The musicanship involved is astonishing, but is also deceivingly simple. Like good classical music (Minasian is obviously a trained pianist). In fact, the tasteful arrangements and the melodic compositions hide it´s complexity to most people. Random Acts of Beauty (a reference to the 7 wonderful tracks? well, it surely fits that bill) is a fine tapestry of gentle melodies and terrific harmonies. Quite elaborated when the music calls for it, and simple when necessary. Nothing more and nothing less. And it´s hard to compare the music here to anything in particular. It sounds quite familiar, and yet it is also very original. However, some influences are clear. Early Camel is the most obvious one for Andy Latimer even plays on the opening track, the 12 minute Masquerade. The Moody Blues also seems to be a source of inspiration specially for the vocal parts.

Blessed with a very good production, David Minasian´s album is a startling showcase of his incredible talents as a musician, songwriter and arranger. I was not sure if I should give this album a five star rating since it is only his first solo efford (not counting an obscure release in the 80´s). But the music here speaks for itself and it is truly a masterpiece of progressive music. A prog heaven for my ears. And I´m looking forward to listen to his future works. Highly recommended!

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars A propos of nothing, is there a statute of limitations on debut albums? That is, if one's first album was released 26 years ago and now another appears, is it another debut? Anyways, David Minasian has been nothing if not busy in the intervening quarter century, and his activities of greatest interest would involve mutual heroes CAMEL and ANDY LATIMER. Apparently Mr Latimer provided much encouragement to see this project to fruition, some of it tangible, as in lending guitars and voice to one of the best tracks.

This is mostly lush and melodic music that lovingly recalls former symphonic glory days while establishing its own filter on that period. Soaring lead guitars, ethereal keyboards, and melancholic vocals blend appealingly. All are well played, and the song oriented tracks tend to hold together rather well. Apart from a more orchestrally inspired CAMEL, other comparisons might be to the MOODY BLUES, PINK FLOYD, and some keyboard wizzes, among them KITARO in the more mellow and reflective moments.

My main criticisms are that the instrumentals, particularly the album's lengthiest cut, seem to jump around a, randomly, and generally don't captivate, and the lead guitars of son Justin, while emotive, are sometimes a bit too blended into the mix, and at a lower growl, a la MOSTLY AUTUMN, and in contrast to Mr Latimer himself who tends to take charge when he solos.

In both "Masquerade" and especially "Blue Rain" I do find myself truly awed. If the MOODYS could still produce a composition as transcendent as the latter, with waves of heartfelt verses, choruses and solos, they might be a going concern instead of an oldies revue. Both "Chambermaid" and "Summer's End" are solid songs with thought provoking lyrics, while falling short of stunning, while the closing instrumental "Dark Waters" wraps the festivities up on a high note.

As with many "debuts", the sequel is anxiously awaited, to assess if the artist will move forward, retrench, abandon hope, improve, or some combination thereof. Still, on its own merits, this is a deeply nostalgic work that recalls a more beautiful time, or at least one when we were all more beautiful. 3.75 stars.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars At first, I wanted to state that this album is about beauty, but it is actually about both making nice music, but also about solos (fortunately not Han Solos), mostly guitar ones, but also keyboards (various types). Clever melodic Prog of the best kind (which may sound too exaggerated, but it actually is true). I would go (as I went few times so far) with Tarcisio and give it almost the best rating

5(-), because from the very best rating is preventing me fact that it's too new. I mean that I want to behave soberly enough and leave the place to improve (but also to lessen) the rating. I've said it already and I'll say it again, beautiful. After all, this word is used 6 times in last 3 collab's reviews, it's even in album's title, so it probably has something to do with it.

There's thing that confuses me, these tracks (quite long ones), even of various lengths, sounds very similar, but that's not problem (here, in this case, sometimes it is a problem, but not now). To be honest, I was very surprised by this album. When I first heard it, I rushed to PA and tried to look it up in Suggest New Bands, only to find it already here. Another album after 26 years ? I still have to understand all connections between these two releases (odd twist of fate), so I'm admitting that I don't know his 1984 work, but as it goes for this album, I'm satisfied. Without mistakes it is.

Expect long, symphonic, melodic (whatever), albums with various layers, intelligently used piano (I like how perfectly it fits in the compositions and adds "easening" element to it), but of course other keyboard / synths as well. It's monster, tiny monster these "Randon Acts of Beauty".

I hope you've enjoyed my review after some kind of hiatus. Little hiatus.

Review by lazland
5 stars Great God Almighty - where on earth did this one appear from?

Entitled Random Acts Of Beauty, never was a title more fitted to the music contained therein, because this is simply exceptional and has taken, for me, the lead in the race for album of 2010. It all actually starts with the lead contender of album cover of the year, featuring a beautiful lady against a lovely canvas.

David Minasian's old chum, the great Andy Latimer, provides guitars for the opening track, Masquerade, and, well, what an exceptional sound is produced. A track which has soaring guitars, clever piano and other keys, wonderful rhythm, and such an uplifting feel to it, you really are transported to a higher plain listening and immersing yourself in it.

So, can this feast to the ears be replicated on the remainder of the album? The answer, I am extremely glad to report, is a resounding yes.

Other reviewers have identified influences such as Camel (the obvious one) and The Moody Blues, and whilst these are definitely present, I actually think that to describe this work as being somehow retro would be extremely unfair and inaccurate, because what Minasian has created here is nothing less than a modern symphonic masterpiece. In fact, the utilisation of all the instruments on this, including quite the most magnificent woodwind, orchestral keyboards & piano, and some wonderful guitar work from both Latimer and Minasian Junior make this, to these ears, akin to a classical music suite transposed to the rock arena - this, of course, being what the finest symphonic acts of the "classic" era did.

There is a lot of symphonic prog about at the moment. Some of it goes from the unashamedly tribute/retro (i.e. Transatlantic) to knowing nods (Kaipa). Much of it is wonderful, but with this effort, I found myself transported to a completely different level. The second track, Chambermaid, is misleading in its apparent simplicity, because, in reality, what is created is quite the epitome of melodic symphonic prog.

Storming The Castle starts off with a medieval folk passage that wouldn't be out of place on a Blackmore's Night album, and the harpsichord and woodwind playing is pure classical symphonic folk. Quite utterly stunning (I'm sorry about the superlatives, but I can't help it!), the track then morphs, completely unexpectedly, into a hard riff dominated by growling guitars and swirling synths, backed by a strong rhythm. This man can rock as well as orchestrate, and I can assure all lovers of hard/heavy prog that he does it very well. Definitely reminiscent of Rainbow in their pomp, but without being at all copyist.

Blue Rain slows proceedings down again. Seven and a half minutes of hauntingly, achingly, beautiful music, backed by moving and clearly deeply personal lyrics. The guitar solos produced simply has to be heard to be believed, and there is also more very clever use of woodwind.

The longest epic is Frozen In Time, and opens with bombastic synths, before, again, the oboe, piano, and electric guitar combine with percussion and bass to produce an uplifting, toe tapping wonder. This track clocks in at over fourteen and a half minutes, and, as one would expect, contains many time and mood shifts, but the musical movement is never anything less than soaring, and there is more very clever guitar (acoustic & electric) work contained in this. We also have the finest piece of church organ playing since the mighty Wakeman stepped up to the alter in Awaken on Going For The One. A huge riff out greets the second half of the track, and the clever manner in which the tempo and atmosphere of the music is changed in an instant is achieved so deftly that I can only think of one other maestro who could do the same so effectively - Mike Oldfield, because this soon melts away back to the mood and tempo of the opening section. The playing really is astounding. As guitars, piano, and woodwind bring the piece to a close, a completely wordless song speaks volumes.

Summers End begins peacefully with sorrowful vocals, piano and harpsichord, all creating a melancholic sound, but not darkly melancholic. The album is too uplifting for that. The track features some extremely good sampled and acoustic guitars and synthesiser work. Overall, a beautiful love song that seems to deal with love lost, but one that brings hope for whatever is to come.

The closer, Dark Waters, is a quiet and thoughtful instrumental which, again, produces quite the most haunting woodwind and keyboard work, before expanding with another massive guitar break. The denouement, in the finest tradition of the best classical pieces, fades away almost silently with piano to leave us wondering just what a journey the composer has taken us upon, and, crucially, why is it over?

I know that it is difficult for people to commit their hard earned money to a brand new album from someone most will not, it must be honest, have ever heard of, and especially when there are so few reviews upon which to make a judgement. Well, it really has to be a matter of trust.

For my money, if you buy no other album in 2010, make it this one. This is an album which will still be played on the Lazland deck in many years time. This is an album of such outstanding power, beauty, and powerful beauty, that it simply cannot be ignored and allowed to be quoted as some form of "cult" following.

This album deserves the support of everyone who calls themselves a prog fan, and is, in my mind, an absolutely essential masterpiece of modern symphonic rock. I am a little bit more sparing with 5 star ratings than I was. Not with this one.

5 stars. A masterpiece of progressive rock music. Buy it.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Listening to this beautiful album I am brought back many, many times to parts of STEVE HACKETT's early albums: Voyage of the Acolyte, Please Don't Touch, Spectral Mornings, Defector, and Cured. Even the vocals evoke comparisons to many of the softer sides of those five albums. Why this album does not rate "masterpiece" status to me? It is because the instrumentation often feels a little too computerized, the compositions aren't really as adventurous, innovative, and diverse enough, and there is a slight "cheese factor" to many of the syrupy-sweet parts (of which there are many). As I said at the start, however, this is an album containing some hauntingly beautiful passages--not unlike the afore-mentioned prog-master, STEVE HACKETT.
Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars US artist David MINASIAN has been around since the early 80's, until now probably better known as a video director and soundtrack composer. As a recording artist his output has been sparse, until 2010 limited to the solo effort "Tales of Heroes and Lovers" from 1984 and the collaborative production "It's Not Too Late" from 1996, featuring William Drews. 2010's "Random Acts of Beauty" is his second full length solo production, and was issued by US label Progrock Records in the fall of 2010.

If you enjoy symphonic art rock of the variety that has a strong emphasis on richly layered, distinctly harmonic and highly melodic themes, "Random Acts of Beauty" should be a production that will be regarded as aptly named and a splended example of this particular expression. While not among the most adventurous and challenging efforts of this year it is most certainly a strong contender for the most beautiful production of 2010, and highly recommended to those who tends to have a soft spot for the melodic parts of the art rock universe. In particular dedicated fans of acts such as Camel and The Moody Blues.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Beauty, such a relative word, often used to describe harmonic sounds, bright colors and glossy smoothness. I guess many people might find the woman on the sleeve beautiful, or might even like the entire artwork. I don't. For me beauty lies in truth and authenticity, either in a laughing wrinkle or in eyes red-brimmed with tears, but certainly not in castle clichés or other fake romanticism fronted by Barbie dolls.

Luckily the album starts out more pleasing then the artwork. Masquerade is safe, formulaic and old-school, but it's well written and professionally executed. Ideal background music for a proggy Valentine's Day. Andy Latimer guests on guitar and vocals, and after the drearily cheesy piano intro his magic touch shows how simple and pure his emotive playing still is, even amidst the synth bombast that almost drowns him out. His weary old voice at the end is the best part of the album.

The remainder of the album doesn't reach this level anymore. Chambermaid is an unlucky mix of insecure vocals with tedious drumming and bombastic orchestrations, even if it isn't a bad song at heart. From here on it's a steep fall downwards and when the band tries to rock such as on Storming the Castle things get even worse, offering nothing but old-school rock clichés with a synthetic production so pompous and amateurish that it kills of all possible qualities of the instruments. No, plastic doesn't rock; it never did and never will.

This album isn't "random", it's totally cliché and predictable. It also doesn't "act" but remains stale, inert and dull. And it doesn't offer "beauty", it's plastic and plastic never has been beautiful. In other words this album is close to a complete disappointment. Avoid, only Latimer and Justin's guitars saved this one from one star forgetfulness.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Predictable acts of beauty

David Minasian has made a minor name for himself in progressive circles by producing several excellent DVD releases for the mighty Camel (and Andy Latimer repays the favour here, but more on that later). However, Minasian's ambitions do not stop at producing videos, he also writes his own music as evidenced by this much praised solo album of his. Actually, Random Acts Of Beauty is not Minasian's solo debut album as he did one already in 1984 - one that went largely unnoticed, as far as I know.

What we have here is pretty much Symphonic-Prog-by-the-books. While trying to describe this music in words I end up with something that could almost be a definition of the old-school Symphonic Prog from the late 60's/early 70's. Minasian himself has mentioned The Moody Blues, Barclay James Harvest, Camel and early King Crimson as reference points when describing his own music and that is indeed very accurate. But while all the typical ingredients of that genre are here, the end result is somewhat lacking in soul and passion, in my opinion. This album is frankly quite predictable and even a bit dull occasionally!

While there is nothing wrong as such with following the old masters of your favourite genre, there is always the risk of sounding very unoriginal and anonymous and this is clearly the case here. There are some Rick Wakeman-like keyboard parts and some Steve Hackett- like guitar solos, but it all becomes a bit too predictable to this reviewer. This is retro-Prog in the sense that it could just as well have been written in the early 70's, but the production is modern. It is indeed "beautiful" and quite pleasant on the ears, but hardly exciting and not particularly memorable. There is very little to complain about as such, but there is also very little that grips me.

The mixing and production is good apart from the drums that sound a bit weird at times, but the result actually sounds a bit too good in the sense that it becomes "glossy" and somewhat artificial, just like the awful and cheesy cover picture!

The principle musicians involved are David Minasian himself and his son Justin. While Justin plays most of the guitars, David plays an impressive number of instruments including a plethora of vintage keyboards (with the lovely old harpsichord in particular given pride of place), cello, violin, oboe, flute, recorder, clarinet, french horn, cornet, dulcimer, sitar, bass and drums as well as doing the lead vocals! His voice reminds of that of Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues.

Andy Latimer of Camel appears on guitar and vocals on the first track. His guitar solo is very nice indeed (and it is truly great to hear him play again after his miraculous recovery from a horrible illness). Latimer's unexpected lead vocal part towards the end of the song does however sound very much out of place and indeed a bit "random". You might be forgiven for thinking that Minasian's motivation for including Latimer on this album was to make it sell better than it otherwise would have, but the two of them have actually been good friends for a very long time and it was Latimer who kindly offered his services to the proceedings. But there is no denying that Latimer's presence is a major factor in drawing attention to this work.

While nothing here is bad as such, I simply fail to see what has made some people so enthusiastic about this album.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars David Minasian is a well known composer and video director who actually released his debut solo album as long ago as 1984, but it is this 2010 album that has made many progheads stand up and take notice. Of course many Camel fans know of David as he directed their 'Coming of Age' DVD and here Andy Latimer has repaid the favour by providing guitars (and vocals on one number) on his first outing since 2002. David's son Justin also provided guitars, with Guy Pettet on drums and David everything else. This is classic prog, steeped in the early Seventies and the sounds of The Moody Blues, Al Stewart, Camel, BJH and Renaissance. In many ways it is a very English sounding album, and with the liberal use of mellotrons it does sound as if it comes from that time as opposed to the present day.

This is music that makes me smile; it may not be earth shatteringly original, but it is a real delight. There is just enough use of acoustic instruments and even a harpsichord to take away from the saccharine that at times almost envelops the listener, with some great guitar cut throughs. Latimer was having fun no doubt, while there are enough Hackett stylings and orchestration to please even the most hardened cynic. If you enjoy prog music then you will love this album, it is as simple as that. It isn't challenging music, but rather something that the listener can put on and relax into like a well-worn armchair. Layered and delicate, full of harmonies and melody, who could ask for more?

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Well, it took me long enough to get this one, after a fair amount of hesitation mostly due to a slew of 'need to haves' before taking the plunge. The generally glowing reviews have helped as well as listening to a few samples on the artist's website. I, like my esteemed colleagues Lazland and Tarcisio Moura, really didn't expect this album to be as rewarding as it is. While I unsecretly enjoy 'beautiful' music, I am always leery of too much mellow saccharine in my sympho-prog, so I did hesitate a bit after seeing the corny artwork. Lazland's recent evaluation pushed me over the edge and I am really glad that I read other reviewers opinions and let myself be influenced by them.

One only has to wait a few seconds before guest guitarist (and Minasian friend/idol) Andy Latimer unleashes one of the most inspiring axe solos on recent memory, a soaring, emotive and trembling execution of spiritual guitar bliss. 'Masquerade' is a dozen minutes of unpolluted symphonic gratification, expertly structured with a transcendent middle section where the piano, the cruising guitar and stocky rhythmic riffs collide in unanimity, all propelled by a sturdy bass and drum foundation. Added ornamental oboe increases the pleasure multi-fold. Andy also supplies the distressed vocals throughout, a profoundly sensitive expression of melancholia that truly is overwhelming.

'Chambermaid' is a tender ballad that is the only slightly weaker moment here, a nice song and pleasant playing throughout that reek of the Moody Blues style, saved by some dual guitar work that is clearly out of the norm and some effective lyrics. The loopy synthesizer also duels nicely with the fret boards, the melody is fabulously animated.

The two-faced track 'Storming the Castle' is a precise portrayal of underlying value of this artist as his luminous piano playing throughout elevates the material beyond the superficial and the bland, providing the ideal foil for blood relative Justin Minasian to scour the guitar horizons with a multitude of inspired solos. It starts out tranquil, pastoral and medieval, suddenly evolving into a harder/hyper climate full of conflict, contrast and delirium. The fear of new age Kitaro-style pap flies right out the window!

The subdued 'Blue Rain' certainly is a perfect case in point, metaphorical ivories coating the cerulean arrangement, anchoring a gorgeous sequence of guitar leads, enormous orchestrations and celestial vocals of the loftiest caliber. If audiophiles seek out impeccable sonic splendor in a quixotic setting, this track will do it, an achingly suggestive musical exploration that numbs the senses. A tremendous cello addition finishes off this amazing and uplifting track.

The ambitiously symphonic and all-instrumental 'Frozen in Time' dishes out the entire gamut of implements in David's arsenal, from lute to flute, from clarinet to cornet and adding church organ strategically only to stamp this with complete prog authority. All the usual suspects play an equally important role with thrilling piano parts, excited guitar explosions, rumbling bass throttles and punchy accentuating drums. The arrangement ebbs and flows accordingly, with darker organ swaths morphing into a breathtaking acoustic guitar section that is to expire over, the underused beauty of the glorious harpsichord seeping into the fray with ease. The pace explodes into a raunchy riff that has uncanny hints of Gentle Giant's classic 'A Cry for Everyone', a bruising, oily and gritty guitar rant that is excruciatingly aggressive under the unexpected circumstances. Flailing drums and haunting mellotron provides the 'coup de grace'. The next immediate segment has an almost country/pastoral feel, with ostentatious oboe musings amid piano caresses and synthesized wisps.

The luscious 'Summer's End' continues the glorious forlorn melody carved out on 'Blue Rain', a deeply sorrowful lead guitar appears relentlessly out of the indigo hurting but the acoustic guitar weaving merges with the flamboyant piano, the howling mellotron and the grandiose synths.

The amazing 'Dark Waters' conjures aquatic images of power and serenity, the ocean's yin and yang imagery perfectly expressed by rivulets of oboe and woodwind that collide with gales of mellotron, guitar whitecaps and waves of rhythmic fury.

While there are many who prefer a harder edged type of symphonic'prog a la Anekdoten, Anglagard and Porcupine Tree, there is always a time and a place for gorgeous arrangements that have substance and emotive power. Yes, this stuff is romantic, prosaic, dreamy, surreal and melancholic but its chock full of eye-brow raising moments that are frankly unexpected. The piano playing alone is worth the effort to add this into one's collection but the quality is definitely there in terms of sympho-prog standards. This is one of those albums that has a definite feminine appeal, ideal to cuddle up with and have the little lady in your life tell you that its very beautiful music! Now how can THAT be bad?

5 arbitrary steps

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Random acts of beauty from 2010 is the second solo album of David Minasian, a musician known more for his collaboration with famous Camel, producing and directing Coming of Age DVD aswell as other 50 film and DVD projects. He release his first solo album in 1984 named Tales of heroes and lovers, but was almost unnoticed back then as know , being issued in the dark period of prog. The second album appear after 25 years Random acts of beauty, a symphonic prog album clearly similar towards Camel fame or in places reminescent of smooth The Moody Blues. The music is pretty much more then ok, with elaborated pieces, nice passages, all is good, we even have famous Andy Latimer on first track Masquerade doing vocal and guitar lines, nice piece. Another top ones is Blue rain or Frozen Time. Not much to add, a good symphonic prog album, nothing is groundbreaking here but the music is pleasent most of the time, the production and overall sound is little flat, otherwise no bif complains from me. Nice cover art aswell. 3 stars maybe 3.5 stars in places.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Hearing this album for the first time left me somewhat floored. I would have sworn that Minassian was a British artist. I would have been wrong. My experience tells me that American prog performers in general find it near impossible to avoid a bit of Country, Honky Tonk, Yee-Haa, Shuffle, some ... (read more)

Report this review (#1146626) | Posted by Anon-E-Mouse | Wednesday, March 12, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars WAOUH !! .... How could I have waited over two years to discover this album. To me, this one is certainly a prog's top5 for the year 2010. David Minasian is known as producer of some of CAMEL's DVD and when listening to the album you can't avoid to state that the guy has lot in common with An ... (read more)

Report this review (#904933) | Posted by Subterranean | Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Overall, I didn't particularly like or dislike this album. Beauty in prog is my thing, so I expected to be fairly bowled over by this, but certainly wasn't. I expected great melodies, and while they aren't bad, I think bands like Cirrus Bay have spoiled me. What I really DO like about the album ... (read more)

Report this review (#417379) | Posted by snelling | Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Easily one of the most beautiful CDs I've heard and I'm not just saying that because of its title. I've been a faithful reader of Prog Archives for years and was motivated to finally register and write a review after hearing this album. As a longtime Camel fan I was excited to hear something new ... (read more)

Report this review (#368508) | Posted by BankCo G Hackford | Thursday, December 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars After having read some enthusiastic reviews I was quite curious to purchase this album but when I read that Andy Latimer was special guest with his uniquie guitar touch, I immediately did it! Frankly speaking after some listens I have been quite disappointed. Andy Latimer solo in track n.1 is the ... (read more)

Report this review (#294712) | Posted by luc4fun | Monday, August 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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