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ALCHEMY

Clive Nolan

Neo-Prog


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Clive Nolan Alchemy album cover
3.99 | 125 ratings | 7 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

Act 1
1. Prologue/Overture (3:21)
2. Deception (5:36)
3. One for the noose (5:42)
4. The warning (4:06)
5. Amelia (4:10)
6. King explains (5:35)
7. Desperate days (2:43)
8. Planning a break-in (1:21)
9. Quaternary plan (5:18)
10. The unwelcome guest (4:55)
11. Waiting for news (4:32)
12. The girl I was (6:06)
13. Highgate (8:17)

Act 2
1. The labyrinth (4:43)
2. Ambush (3:09)
3. Time of wealth (5:57)
4. Jagman arrives (1:46)
5. The end justifies the means (3:33)
6. Sanctuary (5:44)
7. Street fight (3:26)
8. Amelia dies (3:21)
9. Burial at sea (6:22)
10. Share this dream (3:37)
11. Treachery (4:22)
12. The ritual (2:13)
13. Anzeray speaks (5:04)
14. Aftermath (3:53)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

Principal performers
- Clive Nolan
- Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq, Strangers on a Train),
- Andy Sears (Twelfth Night),
- Paul Manzi (Arena),
- Damian Wilson (Threshold),
- Paul Menel (ex-IQ),
- David Clifford (Red Jasper)
- Agnieszka Świta.
- Noel Calcaterra

musicians
- Clive Nolan / keyboards
- Mark Westwood /guitars
- Scott Higham / drums
- Claudio Momberg / keyboards
- Kylan Amos / bass

Releases information

Metal Mind Productions
MAS CD 1469 DGD

Thanks to easy livin for the addition
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AlchemyAlchemy
METAL MIND 2013
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Import
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CLIVE NOLAN Alchemy ratings distribution


3.99
(125 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
22%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
30%
Good, but non-essential (33%)
33%
Collectors/fans only (12%)
12%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

CLIVE NOLAN Alchemy reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Making gold

Clive Nolan is a legend in prog circles through his participation in bands such as Pendragon, Arena, Strangers On a Train, etc. So far though he has not released a solo album as such, the closest perhaps being the album he released in South American last year in collaboration with singer/actress Noel Calcaterra.

While "Alchemy" is most certainly not a solo album, it has been released in the name of Clive Nolan, who is the composer and arranger of the project. It should perhaps be said upfront that this is not a neo-prog album of the type released by the aforementioned bands, indeed it is not really a prog album at all. Those who are familiar with the remarkable "She" project released by Nolan under the "Caamora" name will have a much better idea of what to expect. "Alchemy" is in fact the second Caamora Productions project, this album being a fore-runner of some live stage shows and a DVD to come later this year.

In essence, "Alchemy" is a musical for the 2010's, the emphasis being on setting an entertaining story to music through a gathering of noted singers backed by a group of fine musicians. These singers and musicians are predominantly people Nolan has worked with over the years, coming from bands such as IQ, Threshold, Arena, Twelfth Night, etc. Also present once again is the distinctive voice of Agnieszka Świta who is the principal Caamora vocalist.

The "Alchemy" story comes from the same era as that which inspired Arena's "Pepper's Ghost" album. Unlike "She", this is not an adaptation, but an original story written by Nolan, with a really nasty villain, a damsel in distress, plenty of skulduggery and of course a hero. A synopsis of the story can be found at www.alchemythemusical.com/ .Each of the singers performs a role as things roll along at a relentless pace. There are of course moments of melancholy, frivolity, reflection and drama, the music for each being composed with great attention to detail.

With ventures such as this and the preceding "She", Clive Nolan is stepping outside what may be considered his comfort zone. He is to be applauded too for the associated staging of the live shows where his investment is not just financial but emotional too. If there is any justice, both "She" and "Alchemy" will become highly successful West End productions enjoying extended runs. In the meanwhile, we look forward to the DVD of the main presentation of "Alchemy" in Katowice, Poland.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#950330) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK composer and musician Clive NOLAN should be a familiar name for just about anyone who has ever had an interest in progressive rock, and in particular amongst those with an interest in the neo-progressive part of the genre. With more than 25 years as a member of Pendragon and tenures in a myriad of other bands and projects over the years, he has been a highly visible and productive contributor to the genre. As a solo artist his output has been more rare and under the radar however, "Alchemist" is his third ever solo production. This double CD was released by Metal Mind Records in March 2013.

While I'm not an expert on either rock operas nor musicals, my impression is that Clive Nolan has made himself a good quality product of the genre with "Alchemist". High adventure with a solid dash of tragic romance is a mix that tends to go down well, and with compelling moods, symphonic oriented motifs aplenty and strong, distinct high quality lead and backing vocals throughout this is a compelling and easy to like creation. If you enjoy musicals in general this production is well worth getting familiar with, and if you loved Nolan's previous rock opera "She" I can't see any reason for you not to become just as fond of this one.

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Send comments to Windhawk (BETA) | Report this review (#955861) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars It has been more than twenty years since I first made contact with Clive, and since then I have followed his musical adventures with great interest. I spent one Summer holiday playing Shadowland's 'Ring of Roses' almost constantly as one of my daughters (who was all of five years old at the time) declared that it was the most amazing thing she had ever heard. Fast forward to 2004 and another of my daughters had me play 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' constantly as she was of the same view with this particular album (and she was older at eleven). Me, I have enjoyed everything Clive has been involved with, from Strangers on a Train and Pendragon through Shadowland and others and have always enjoyed our chats in various pubs and venues. But, having seen photos of the Polish show of this album, would it live up to expectations?

I initially received this as a digital download to review, but it wasn't long before I bought the CD and the t-shirt (literally) as I just had to have the complete package in my hands. To say that this is by far Clive's greatest achievement may be quite a statement to make, but playing this through just once will ensure that you agree with me. Clive has brought together some great musicians to assist him in providing the wonderful backdrop, but it is the singers that steal the show. This is much more than 'just' a concept album, it is a full-blown musical, and even though there is further explanation in the detailed booklet that comes with the double CD set, the lyrics and narration ensure that the listener knows exactly what is happenings. It is a quest, a fight of good against evil, with Professor King (played by Clive) and his colleagues attempting to foil the dastardly plot of Lord Henry Jagman (Andy Sears).

In all there are eleven characters, with most of the singers well-known to the prog crowd, but it may surprise some to discover that vocalists such as Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq), Damian Wilson (Threshold etc) and Paul Manzi (Arena) actually have fairly small roles. The other main male role is taken by David Clifford (Red Jasper) who is William Gardelle, while the two main female roles are Agnieszka Swita who plays Amelia and Victoria Bolley who plays the part of Eva. As I said, it is the singers who steal the show, with all of those involved putting in stunning performances. I honestly believe that Andy Sears has channelled all of the anger and angst that he used to perform 'Creepshow' into a full-blown performance that has him singing better than he did 20 years ago. Clive is a revelation, as surely this can't be the same person who supports Nick in Pendragon, while DC was Red Jasper's drummer, not their lead singer (although he has now taken that role), yuet comes across as a polished performer of real class. Add to that the incredible sopranos of Agnieszka, Victoria and Noel Calcaterra who plays Jessamine and it is an incredibly powerful mix.

But, there is much that makes this a compelling album. For me one of the major elements is the complexity of the vocals, which sometimes means that three or four singers can all be singing different melodies and lyrics against the same music backdrop, mixing and melding together in a way that is hard to comprehend yet is in such clarity that every word and nuance is fully heard and understood. There are songs such as 'Quaternary Plan' or 'Tide of Wealth' that brings together elements of 'Fiddler On The Roof' with 'Mary Poppins' as the listener wants to join in the chorus, while others are far darker and harder. There are showstopping ballads, with room for every one to shine.

To me this is the logical progression on from 'Journey To The Centre of the Earth' and the aforementioned 'Hound of the Baskervilles' with 'Les Mis' and 'Fiddler' also making important contributions.

I was dropping my youngest daughter at the bus stop the other day (she is 16, I am blessed with four daughters and I've tried to train them all in the joys of music, with differing levels of success), and she asked me what I was playing. I told her, and she said 'it's really good, and the singers are incredible aren't they?'

'Nuff said. I can't imagine hearing a finer piece of work for a very long time indeed

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#966223) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars 2013 has already had numerous stunning progressive releases, but none come more grand, over the top and ambitious as Clive Nolan's theatrical progressive rock opera musical `Alchemy'. A double CD comprised of two acts, the result of over four years work by the artist, and not only is he in the absolute best form of his career, he's assembled a stunning roster of vocalists and musicians to bring his captivating and wondrous musical to life. It's a work that bridges symphonic Neo Prog, stage plays and theatrical drama seamlessly, and is truly a work that eclipses all his other musical output. It's so good, in fact, that you wonder just where the artist can go from here.

`Alchemy' is a dark Victorian tale, full of treachery, obsession, murder and grand adventure. A rich variety of characters weave through the narrative, all voiced by an amazing who's-who of Neo associated artists, and all can be very proud of their efforts here. Mr Nolan himself, in the best vocal form of his career, is professor Samuel King, joined by the lovely Victoria Bolley and Noel Calcaterra in a race against time to stop the ruthless Lord Henry Jagman, played with wicked delight by Twelfth Night's Andy Sears. He's after the long-lost secrets of alchemy for his own nefarious and greedy desires, and as we all know, everyone loves a great bad guy, and Sears has such a repulsive, slimy role here that is truly infectious! He's backed up by brutish thugs such as Paul Manzi (in even better form here than his recent Arena studio debut, although anyone who has seen their `Rapture' live DVD will know what a charismatic talent this guy is) and Paul Menel, sounding nothing like he did during his IQ days! Add in terrific smaller performances from Landmarq's Tracy Hitchings, and a commanding and somber single appearance from Threshold's Damian Wilson to great effect.

But everything is especially anchored by the deeply romantic and tragic relationship that develops between a victim of Jagman's treachery, Amelia Darvis (Caamora's Agnieszka Swita), and an associate of Professor King, William Gardelle (David Clifford of Red Jasper). Clive Nolan asks the listener `Do you embrace the thought of love at first sight?', and the innocent, whimsical and stirring relationship that develops between them over the two act set is impossible to resist. I may have been painfully burned once or twice by romance in my life, but this brings a smile to my face and a tear to my eye and encourages me to hold on to that feeling! Their grand musical duets that are reprised throughout pieces such as `Amelia', `The Girl I Was', `Sanctuary' and `Aftermath' will have you singing along and breaking down every time!

There's numerous other highlights, whether it's the rollicking sing-alongs `Quaternary Plan' and `The Tide Of Wealth' that will have you clapping along in no time, sinister chanting choir pieces like `One For The Noose', punchy Nightwish-styled hard-rock pomp in `Street Fight', or the malevolent gothic pantomime sensory overload of `Highgate'. Lord Jagman declares his repulsive intent in the infectious and delirious `The End Justifies The Means', while both Eva and Jessamine's characters offer a glimpse into their mindset and motivations with `Share This Dream' and `Desperate Days'. The dialogue between the various characters always ensure the listener knows just what is going on, and it fires the work along at a cracking pace. Clive's keyboard and orchestral arrangements are stunning as always, as is the band he has formed alongside him to bring this amazing story to vibrant life.

Mr. Nolan has created a historically rich world full of likeable (and loathable!) characters that deserve to be revisited, so let's hope if he's not too burned out by this experience that we might see a sequel, or better yet, a full trilogy. There's plenty of stories to tell here, and this really does feel like it just might be a new beginning for the artist. He has never sounded so personal, focused and driven, and there has not been a grand, theatrical and ambitious double work as successful since Pink Floyd's `The Wall'. From a progressive rock point of view, fans of albums such as Rick Wakeman's `Journey to the Centre of the Earth', or anyone who might enjoy a less metal version of Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Ayreon projects will find endless music to appreciate here. I personally can't wait for the live DVD due out soon to see how it all comes together visually too.

Album of the year for me, no doubt about it.

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Send comments to Aussie-Byrd-Brother (BETA) | Report this review (#1005031) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review by TheGazzardian
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I spent my New Years Eve last year going through Best of 2013 lists and tossing what I found into a Grooveshark playlist. One such album that I almost skipped was Clive Nolan's Alchemy, partially because I'm not really into New Prog anymore, partially because I could not find the complete album on Grooveshark. But I did decide to give it a shot, despite having incredibly low expectations, and I am incredibly glad that I did!

Clive Nolan's Alchemy is two things that I like: 1. Progressive Rock, 2. A musical. What does this mean, as a person who loves stories, music, dramatics, and the like? It means that this album is one of the most bombastic (in a good way) albums I have heard in a very long time.

I have mixed feelings about this album, however. Every song on it is incredibly good. The melodies are all wonderful and get stuck in my head constantly. There's not a bad song on this album. The way that Clive has built up the tension in various songs, the way he leads one melody into another, the way he piles things happening on top of each other - they are all so damn good to listen to that I just can't help but love the music in this album. The vocalists all do a wonderful job, minus some poor acting in a couple of places. Musical ideas are reprised and used to build upon ideas, improve the drama, etc...

My favorite melody is the song that Amelia (the main character I guess?) learned from her father. This shows up first in 'Waiting for News' as a peaceful little aside, is reprised in a great climax in Labyrinth, and then at the end of the show is played instrumentally in a very victorious / triumphant manner. It's a delicate little melody that has a lot of power and versatility behind it. Clive is a master of re-using themes for dramatic purposes and expanding / building upon them to tie things together. Musically, the album is very cohesive.

Ok, it should be clear by now that I am absolutely in love with this album, I listen to it constantly and have for a couple of months now. I also shuffle a playlist that has this album in it, and whenever a track comes up I get happy to hear it and be reminded of its existence. I am always tempted to play the full album again when this happens. So why do I say I have mixed feelings about it? The story.

The story, ladies and gentlemen, is flawed, and repeated listens continues to diminish the quality of it. Let me be clear - the first time through, the pacing, drama, and exposition suck you into the story and carries you along on a great adventure. So in the sense of considering the story as a journey, one can't complain. But re- listening to songs and knowing where they are leading the story to, one starts to find imperfections. Below is my analysis of such; it will contain spoilers, so please do not read ahead if you want to experience the story for the first time through the music. Also please note that the only reason these things bother me so much is because this musical is so AMAZING that it frustrates me that the story is not quite as tightly woven.

First and foremost, the most frustrating part of the plot is watching the heroes fail again and again, only to eventually lose to the villain, and then have it not matter. To summarise the plot, Henry Jagmond is trying to collect three artifacts with which he can revive Thomas Anzeray, an alchemist that died with the knowledge of how to achieve power over life and death. Jagmond succeeds, despite the best effort of our heroes (lead by Professor Samuel King). However, upon being revived, Thomaz Anzeray, sees how wicked Jagmond is and kills him instead of granting him the power he seeks. It is a great moment of tension in the music, and when Jagmond understands what is happening and begs King to save him, it is a truly great moment; as a listener, you are happy to hear Jagmond be defeated, be so terrified that his arrogant attitude is turned to begging for help from the man he has been competing with the whole show. Nonetheless, this does reveal a glaring problem in the plot: the lead characters need have done nothing. Jagmond could have been left to his own devices and he still would have lost. As there were very few interesting character developments during the musical, it does mar the adventure the characters embarked upon a bit.

In my opinion, the second most frustrating part of the plot is the poor use of the character Jessamine. She is a thief who is introduced in the middle of another song when she tries to pickpocket one of the other characters. She is then given her own song (Desperate Days), which is a wonderful song and really paints the picture of Jessamine as a person who has no place in the world and has been left with no choice but thievery. Something interesting could have developed there, but Jessamine is sent away a few songs later, and is not seen again until just before the end of the musical, where she betrays King + co to Jagmond. This is an interesting twist, and of course Eva (more on her later) is furious and outraged, until King outright says "oh by the way I paid Jessamine to betray us at a key time if we failed so that Jagmond would be stupid enough to gloat to us and give us one more chance to best him". Why did this not come up until now? Why was this necessary? Meanwhile, Jessamine sings about how they were all fools to trust her because obviously she was going to betray them. I just feel like Jessamine was given a very interesting start point and a story that I wanted to hear more about, and instead used only as a cop out way to bring all the characters together at the end (and then she vanishes instead of sticking around to see how things end).

To relate this to my favorite musical, Les Miserables, there are many characters, and they each have their own dreams and desires, which are impacted by the main plot. Jessamine's life through all the events that occur could have been explored more deeply, providing a grander backdrop to the events occurring.

Next, Eva. Eva is one of King's companions, and her role in the story seems to be getting offended about things that shouldn't offend her, and being overly indignant. She is my least favorite character, and if she had been written out, it would have changed almost nothing. It's revealed that she saved King's life, but not on- stage. The only song where she does anything by herself is where she sings about her love for King, and this happens at the end of the musical, after she has done pretty much everything she is going to do, so we don't get to really understand how this love impacts the decisions she makes along the way. Too little, too late, so to say, although I can't think of a place in the musical where we could have inserted this song without interrupting the flow of the story. Personally, I would have liked to see Eva written out and more time given to Jessamine, or at least the amount of stage time they were given reversed. I wouldn't mind not watching Eva butt heads pointlessly multiple times throughout the musical.

One last major flaw is The Labyrinth. Amelia is brought into the story when Jagmond finds her in debtors prison and offers to buy her freedom in exchange for information about the Labyrinth. She gives him the information, but in typical badguy style, he then doesn't free her anyways, instead leaving her to hang (but King, whom Jagmond had also failed to kill earlier, rescues her). Note to badguys: make sure they are dead before you leave them to hunt you down. Anyways, Jagmond recovers the first two artifacts, and the third is in this labyrinth, so King and crew travel to it to recover the artifact before Jagmond can. It is revealed that unless one has the knowledge to navigate the labyrinth, it is certain death, but thanks to a secret from her father, Amelia happens to know the secrets of the labyrinth. In a convenient twist, she did not realise the meaning of her knowledge until after she met King, and as such did not impart it to Jagmond earlier. This means that Jagmond could not have risked the labyrinth without risking certain death. Instead of leaving the last artifact safely out of his reach, Amelia leads the group through the Labyrinth, recovers the artifact, only to then be killed and the artifact taken from her. The Labyrinth is (in my mind) the most musically perfect song on the album, containing some amazing melodies and dramatics, all built together in an amazing way, so I always get super pumped when the song comes on. But I still don't understand why the company would even risk their lives to rescue the artifact if Jagmond lacked the information to safely recover it himself in the first place.

And Amelia's death bothers me; I feel like Clive Nolan thought, "Well, somebody should die, that's always a shocking plot twist, and what's more shocking than our leading lady?" And it was shocking when it happened, but it also killed off the only interesting side-story to the main events: Amelia's blooming love with William, King's last companion. Going back to my point about Les Miserables, each character had their own life, history, character, and made their own choices. Alchemy lacks this dynamic, being purely King vs. Jagmond with allies on each side. Amelia and William's story was the only additional thing going on other than this, and so the story feels fairly static after this story is abruptly put to an end.

William does lament Amelia's death quite emotionally in Burial at Sea (I also super love that ship captains voice!), so musically it's totally worth it to have Amelia die to get that song. William almost decides to abandon the quest, but ultimately decides to stick with it to the end. This was almost some great character buliding, except that, after that point, he does absolutely nothing for the rest of the play! As I said, Thomas Anzeray kills Jagmond at the end, not any of the company, so William's choice not to quit of heartbreak just means he gets to watch along for the remainder of the show. You are probably sick of hearing about Les Miserables by now, but I am going to make one last comparison. In Les Miserables, Marius goes through a similar thing when Cossette is going to leave the country, which leads to him joining the barricades with the intention of dying. He becomes a hero on the barricade, almost dies, and is rescued by another character who goes there because of him, only to be reunited with Cossette and get to marry her. His decision has an important impact on the story, and if he didn't make it, the entire story would play out differently. With William, there is no such payoff for his choice.

As I said, I really love this musical, and I really wish the story stood up as well as the music does. If the story had been at the same level as the music, this album would have contended with the best musicals out there. But nonetheless, a progressive rock musical is basically a dream come true for me, and the music is good and the story does stand up on a song by song basis (or if you don't think about it too much :) ), so I still have a huge love for this album and still listen to it frequently.

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Send comments to TheGazzardian (BETA) | Report this review (#1238348) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 08, 2014

Latest members reviews

5 stars Well, is this somewhat pompous ? Yes! Is it a bit pathetic ? Yes! Does it border to "Kitsch" ? Sometimes! Is it pure Prog? No! Do I love it ? You bet!!! This is simply beautiful music. Ok, if musicals are totally not your cup of tea, you might not like it. Otherwise, get it! There ar ... (read more)

Report this review (#1010017) | Posted by herrkaiser | Friday, August 02, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars CLIVE NOLAN CREATES A THEATRICAL ROCK OPERA THAT IS NOTHING SHORT OF PURE GOLD.  The clever and very gracious, CLIVE NOLAN is back with another solo effort, called ALCHEMY which is in my opinion,  NOLAN's latest and greatest solo effort to date. ALCHEMY was 4 years in the making and is centered ... (read more)

Report this review (#990082) | Posted by progbethyname | Sunday, June 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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