Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Monarch Trail


From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Monarch Trail Skye album cover
3.92 | 151 ratings | 9 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Luminescence (11:15)
2. Silent World (8:21)
3. East Of Fifty (6:11)
4. Sky Above The Sun (20:15)

Total time 46:02

Line-up / Musicians

- Ken Baird / keyboards, vocals, composer
- Dino Verginella / bass
- Chris Lamont / drums

- John Mamone / guitars (1,2,4)
- Kelly Kereliuk / guitar (3)
- Steve Cochrane / Classical & 12-string guitars (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Annette Roche

CD Record Plant, N.Y.C. ‎- MT001 (2014, Canada)

Thanks to apps79 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry


MONARCH TRAIL Skye ratings distribution

(151 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

MONARCH TRAIL Skye reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars Monarch Trail - Skye (2014)

Monarch Trail is the latest album from one of Canada's most hidden talents Ken Baird. This time Baird teams up with musical pals Dino Verginella ( bass) and Chris Lamont (drums) . Guitars were handled by John Mamone, Kelly Kereliuk and The amazing classical fret work of Steve Cochrane.

Right from the opening moment of the first track "Luminescence" we recognize the keybaord and progressive drum work of Lamont and Baird who take us back perhaps to the ending of "Further Out"....a great place to start......the end...... This may be the very best song Ken Baird has ever done with its huge wall of symphonia and pure energy pouring out. At 7:00 mins into "Luminescence" the song takes a wee twist and a huge breath orchestrated with the polysynth sounds that only Baird can do. Next up is another wonderfully symphonic track penned "Silent World" which offers some excellent soaring picturesque musical moments. I love the guitar work on this song which actually reminds me of pieces of British prog band IQ and Manfred Mann and his Electric Band.

The third track is "East of Fifty" which is a six minute catchy prog-fusion tune which nicely contrasts the symphonic prog of the first two tracks and helps usher in the final and hugely ambitious epic track "Sky Above The Sun". This song is huge!....both in composition and length! A true work of art with deep conviction and stunning musicianship. Musically this song is quite varied and impossible to categorize with its wide range of tones and colors and multi-moods. There are lush and delicate parts, then darker more aggressive bits all culminating into a spiritual and inspirational conclusion that will make you wonder about the "sky above the sun".

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Somewhere in the province of Ontario, Canada in the sleepy town of Dundas, hidden between Hamilton and Toronto, there is a talented individual who has been issuing albums to much critical acclaim under his own name (Ken Baird) and after a lengthy silence, has now launched a group project called Monarch Trail, a stunning album that deserves both attention and support. A re-branding of sorts that augurs very well for the future as Ken has always been a sublime composer, keyboard player and vocalist but now is solidly buttressed by long-time colleagues Chris Lamont on drums, bassist Dino Verginella and a trio of guitarists (John Mamone, Kelly Kereliuk and the more famous Steve Cochrane). An album is bookended by two long epics that sandwich fill two short pieces, all defying comparisons (perhaps hints of UK proggers Elegant Simplicity) , somewhere sitting comfortably between crossover, neo and symphonic , all fueled by Ken's unique stamp on things , fully armed with an arsenal of splendid keyboards and superb solo guitar playing ! The rhythm section is solid and utterly propulsive.

"Luminescence" rips right from the get-go, shuffling rhythm and sizzling synth soloing that accompany the fluttering vocal, hinting at classic IQ but with a twist, Mamone carving some slithering guitar lines, full of expansive bravado. Ken shoots off plenty of slippery synths from his battery of keys, showing off tremendous digital genius. The moody mid-section really finds a convincing ear, stretching the instrumental palette even wider, with gorgeous choir mellotron adding elevation and bombast.

Next up, "Silent World" is the killer 8 minute+ track, a shorter nugget that has intensity in the spiraling synthesized loops and solid drum patterns, with a patented hushed Baird vocal that displays somber reflection and a simply stellar piano line that underlines a massive chorus, hinting at a way proggier Level 42. Tinges of jazzy backbeats and a plethora of synth soloing will keep you on edge. Baird kicks up the vocal a few notches as the emotional music becomes grandiloquent and drenched in symphonic sheen. Bass bops crazily amid the restrained Mamone guitar sketches, and just blooms into a linear electric solo that soars and soars a la Hackett. A tour de force composition of world class prog.

Things get tighter with "East of Fifty", a romping six minute scorcher that swerves, careens and propels itself along with madcap resolve. Several layers of instrumental prowess are unpeeled before the tune really kicks into gear, led by Kelly Kereliuk's harder edged axe. This track is again synth top-heavy, with a slew of different tones added to the mix.

The unique Baird style is dazzlingly evoked on the epic 20 minute + finale "Sky Above the Sun", a deeply symphonic masterpiece of sultry sounds and atmospheric ornamentations that provide a glowing 'feel good' sense, a trait that is quite particular to his artist's past legacy as well as this current group undertaking. Baird excels on piano, synths, organ, dishing out honky-tonk stylistics together with deft technical eloquence that can wink at both jazz and neo. His synthesizer solos rekindle brief glimpses of Peter Bardens, Manfred Mann, Pat Moraz and Martin Orford. His vocals give the arrangement a joyful personal touch which is honest and unpretentious, Cochrane's acoustic foray on both classical and 12 string is simply spectacular. Just a pure spectacle of unbridled delight, this is why we love prog with such devotion, instruments glowing brightly, melodic arrangements that pulsate with vibrant impulses and a structure where time means nothing, sheer unadulterated proggy bliss.

Clever, humble, creative and wholly entertaining, Monarch Trail is a surprising journey that will not disappoint those fans who crave both the familiar and the ingenious, conveniently all wrapped up in a nice tight package, allied with excellent instrumental prowess to boot. Something for every prog fan. I have a serious soft spot for artists who genuinely forge ahead, in relative obscurity whilst concocting albums of sheer delight and Baird has never disappointed since launching his debut solo album August, back in 1996. Flutter by and get on the Baird trail, this is an artist definitely worthy of our genre.

5 butterfly roads

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I've been a big fan of Ken Baird for quite a few years now, his down to earth lyrics and beautiful compositions simply take me to another place. Well Ken is back but he's decided to make this more of a band effort and so he's called this project MONARCH TRAIL named after a nature trail in his home town of Dundas. Gotta love the art work done by Annette Roche, and this art work was also an inspiration to Ken and the band. Now this may be more of a band effort but Ken still wrote all the lyrics and created all the music, so fans of Ken Baird solo won't be disappointed. For me the biggest difference between this and solo Baird was how prominant the synths are, and also this might be more dynamic overall compared to his previous works.

So we get four long tracks clocking in at a tidy 46 minutes. Nice. "Luminescence" gets us started as the synths roll in as the guitar and drums help out. It picks up quickly with synths leading the way. The tempo will continue to shift. This is feel good music right here. Vocals for the first time after 2 1/2 minutes and it's so good to hear Ken's voice again. I like that synth/guitar section after 5 minutes. Things then calm down as we get a spacey and drifting sound right to the end of the song. "Silent World" sounds great to start as do the vocals and background synths before a minute. Piano leads briefly then the vocals and full sound take over again. It turns jazzy 3 minutes in but not for long. Love the sound 6 minutes in as the guitar solos and the bass throbs. Spacey winds end it.

"East Of Fifty" is the only instrumental and the shortest track at just over 6 minutes. A bright and upbeat start to this one with synths out front. THE FLOWER KINGS actually come to mind for me on this one. It settles after 5 1/2 minutes as a spacey atmosphere ends it. "Sky Above The Sun" is the over 20 minute closer. Piano comes and goes early on before the synths start to dominate. A change after 2 1/2 minutes as a beat kicks in followed by vocals. The synths like the vocals will come and go. A calm 7 1/2 minutes in with reserved vocals as we get this pleasant musical backdrop to it all. The mood continues to change then we get this epic sound before 14 minutes with a powerful atmosphere. Vocals return as the song meanders along.

Well I still think "Martin Road" is the best album Ken has created but man this is really good. I do wish the lyrics were included only because it's one of Baird's strong points. A solid 4 stars.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 'Skye' is a 2014 album by newcomers to the Neo Prog scene Monarch Trail. The band are lead by visionary, vocalist, keyboardist extraordinaire Ken Baird, who has been carving his name into progressive folklore with his fine solo albums over the years. Baird, this time around, has roped in two accomplished musicians in the form of bassist Dino Verginella and drummer Chris Lamont. Along with these musos are guest guitarists John Mamone, Steve Cochrane, and Kelly Kereliuk. The result of all these varied talents is a solid album with some impressive musicianship encompassing four tracks clocking almost 50 minutes.

The packaging of the album is graced with a beautifully realised cover, depicting a smiling girl in a darkened forest. In Annette Roche's artwork there are mystical overtones of a Celtic setting, and in the inner lining the art is an image of the girl with a hazy blue wash, and she is closing her eyes as if dreaming, giving a haunting quality so well reflected in the music. The album is primarily dominated by Baird's keyboard finesse, indeed there are extended passages of synthesizer solos and ambient washes with swathes of synths.

The album opens with 'Luminescence' with an extended instrumental segment, before Baird's vocals chime in. The vocal style at first comes across as thin and whispy, very relaxed as reflective lyrics are sung. On 'Silent World' the vocals are layered and more successful in terms of the power of the music in contrast. The stark musical embellishment on this album are the incredible drums of Lamont. Often the drums are played just behind the beat or even ahead of the beat providing an urgency to the tracks. The drumming is sporadic with a lot of fills and cymbal splashes; very progressive and dynamic.

The band are capable of virtuosic performances such as on the instrumental 'East of Fifty' and on the last track. The album closes with a colossal epic 'Sky Above the Sun' spreading out to over 20 minutes. This track is worth the price of admission alone, served up with lashings of harmonic guitars and glazed over with Baird's fluttering fingers on the keyboard. The song moves from a quiet solitude to a deep centred resonance building to a powerful crescendo.

Overall 'Skye' is a solid release injected with passion and power. The Neo elements are strong, similar to IQ or components of The Flower Kings, so with that recommendation, and for those enamoured with the work of Ken Baird, it is well worth seeking out this fine album by Monarch Trail.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Skye' - Monarch Trail (79/100)

In my not-so-recent travels to Ontario, I never got a chance to check out any of the province's parks or natural trails. I imagine they're quite beautiful however, as the Monarch Trail in the Dundas Valley was beautiful enough to be the namesake for the latest project from Ken Baird. A wittier writer than I might even make a quip associating Monarch Trail with progressive rock kings Rush, IE: A Farewell to Kings. In any case, this multi-instrumentalist impressed me in the past with a solid string of solo albums; his Martin Road stood out in particular for its blend of prog with singer-songwriter sensibilities. It only feels natural that Baird's work is given a full-band treatment here. As with any fresh project I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but Skye has started Monarch Trail's journey off on a very promising note.

Whereas Ken Baird's solo material was generally hinged on conventional songwriting and later given a progressive kick in the arrangement itself, Monarch Trail is progressive rock in its full-blooded, uncompromised form. If a twenty minute epic wasn't enough of an indicator, Monarch Trail's style feels firmly rooted and influenced by symphonic prog repertoire, most notably the pastoral vibes of Genesis. A better comparison might actually be Spock's Beard however; Ken Baird's plain 'everyman' voice might seem like its a stark contrast to the elaborate, full-fledged instrumentation but it meshes surprisingly well together. Not least, Monarch Trail betray a strong influence from their fellow Ontarians in Rush. I mean, tell me with a straight face the opening of "Luminescence" doesn't remind you of Rush's best days, circa Permanent Waves!

Not surprisingly given Ken Baird's longtime weapon-of-choice, but the keyboards take centrestage throughout the album. In fact, there isn't even a full-time guitarist listed on the band roster, although John Mamone (playing three of the four tracks with Hackett-like moderation) may as well be considered as such. The moog-tinged keyboard solos certainly sound a bit dated for the most part, but the arrangements are generally well-rounded. Baird's background as a sognwriting has served the music nicely as well; a good songwriter knows that too much of a good thing can turn it sour. Thusly, the compositions are kept on a tight rein, not so much that it stifles the fludiity of the performance, but just enough to keep it interesting and effectively paced. "Silent World" and "East of Fifty" aren't as engaging as the two longer tracks (though the latter does bring a promising fusion vibe to the music) but on the whole, Skye is remarkably consistent and well-intentioned.

While I'm ultimately in no place to say what bands did or didn't influence Monarch Trail, their sound pays little homage to the contemporary or 'modern' scene in progressive rock. They have entered the prog rock door via the long-contested backdoor of tradition. While there's a special place in my heart for the vintage 'symph prog' sound, I've very rarely found myself interested in the revivalists. Bands like The Flower Kings and Transatlantic made up my mind long ago that the past was best left in the past, that it was far better to look towards the future rather than dwell upon the so-called classic sound of prog. This view might have predisposed me against this band, but Monarch Trail have something most others of their sort do not: a sense of feeling and sincere warmth. Skye doesn't put a fresh spin on progressive rock, nor does it really mean to. It's a 'prog for proggers' album to be certain, but the composition doesn't fall into the self- referential pit of cliches that often seem to come with bands of their sound. Especially given that it's a sound that so rarely captures my ear these days, I've got to get behind Monarch Trail for this one. No boundaries have been shattered with this one, but I'm yet to hear a symphonic prog album from this year with such warmth and charm to it.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars On their first album `Skye', Monarch Trail, a trio based around Dino Verginella's bass, Ken Baird's keyboards/vocals and Chris Lamont's drumming, offer exquisite and dynamic symphonic/Nep prog work that calls to mind modern symphonic giants Glass Hammer, Neo bands such as I.Q and Jadis, and the romantic tones of Camel. Four extended pieces ranging between 6 and 20 minutes with lengthy instrumental passages and strong vocal melodies makes their debut album, inspired by the work of artist Annette Roche, a must for fans of this kind of progressive music, and it already sets a high standard for the band right from the start.

Things get off to a slightly rocky start in the first few minutes of opener `Luminescence', but stick with it! It's nice to hear the piece burst into up-tempo life right from the start, with announcing drumming, whirring synths, Ken's vocals and the confident chiming electric guitars instantly reminding of Neo-proggers Jadis. But sadly the first use of the chorus is awkwardly implemented, as it instantly drops the piece down in tempo and it isn't a smooth transition. However, by the half way point, cascading electric guitar runs, ethereal wisps of mighty Mellotron and dazzling keyboard wigouts (reminding me of both the energetic Pendragon debut `The Jewel' and Eloy's deep space soundtracks!) weave together and culminate in an almighty grand choral climax - and all is right in the prog world!

`Silent World' is more of a vocal dominated piece that also jumps back and forth with frequent alternating tempos, Dino's bass gliding like a liquid, glistening piano and scorching electric guitar solos from guest John Mamone race for the heavens. The vocal melodies are strong overall, there's some slight and sprightly jazz drumming near the finale, and I especially enjoy the warm lyric "Take me to the winds where I can feel the air all around embrace me", which creates a nice dreamy atmosphere.

The fully Instrumental `East of Fifty' is truly exquisite, energetic twisting 'n turning electric guitar runs, thick bass murmuring constantly throughout, punchy drumming and non-stop variety of infectious synth soloing. There's a definite foot-tapping quality as this upbeat piece reaches it's end, and it's up there with `N.A.S' from the recent album by RPI band Logos as one of the tastiest instrumental pieces of 2014.

Finally, what symphonic styled prog album would be complete without a 20 minute epic?! `Sky Above the Sun' (man, now there's a title that screams Neal Morse, bet he wished he'd thought of that one!) is an ambitious lengthy closer that moves between grandiose breathtaking majestic passages, softly flowing gentle themes, displaying so much variety and carefully executed transitions between sections. Imperial Mellotron, nimble piano and humming Moogs spiral together, electric guitars take a dramatic harder turn, with the addition of beautiful 12 string classical acoustic to raise the drama. The deeply romantic final few minutes takes on a theatrical Clive Nolan-like theatrical, near-orchestral sweeping quality, and the line "When I was younger, I dreamed of this, distant places I would find..." perfectly sums up the entire album.

OK, so there's little spots here and there where `Skye' is a little rough around the edges. Some of the vocals are more serviceable than inspiring, and there's obvious moments of the kind of `do-it-yourself'/bedroom recording and mixing that shows up on numerous modern prog albums. But there's no ignoring the sheer talent of the band, the instrumental skill on display and the winning melodies. There's also a constant joyful sound woven throughout the music here that should have most listeners grinning wildly!

Put it this way...It took Glass Hammer, making music in a kind of similar style to what's on display here, some years to finally hit gold several albums into their career, but Monarch Trail have hit the ground running and instantly produced a superb and addictive symphonic prog release right as they begin. They've now already set the bar very high for themselves, and once those little kinks mentioned above are worked on, the promise of even better music in the future is assured for this talented group of musicians.

But it's four stars for now, and `Skye' makes Monarch Trail an instant contender as one of the finest modern symphonic prog bands currently doing the rounds. Well done, fellas!

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Some years ago thanks to this great site (Progarchives) I was contacted by Canadian musician Ken Baird, a talented composer and keyboard player who kindly introduced me to his solo music; and last year he and his two friends who also were featured on Baird's solo albums, decided to start a new project entitled Monarch Trail, in which Ken plays keyboards and sings, while Dino Verginella plays the bass and Chris Lamont the drums. This new band fits perfectly in the likes of those who love symphonic and neo-progressive rock; and it is complemented by three guest guitarists: John Mamone, Steve Cochrane and Kelly Kereliuk.

The album features four songs and a total time of 46 minutes. It starts with a magnificent song entitled "Luminiscence", whose eleven minutes offer a mixture of sounds, nuances and textures that create images and stories. It is evident that keyboards take the leadership and it is understandable because Ken Baird is a gifted man, who might not be famous, but man, what he does is magic and we, the prog rock fans, must thank guys like him who always make a big effort to offer wonderful music. In moments I can listen to a mellotron, which of course adds an even most beautiful sound; there are several changes and passages, but all of them are truly enjoyable. A feast of symphonic rock that I hope will be appreciated by more and more listeners in the near future. Great opener track!

"Silent World" starts softly with piano but after some seconds an explosion of energy appears with bombastic keyboards. After 40 seconds vocals enter, a calm atmosphere is created and the drums participate with excellent figures. The song has so many changes in time and mood, it is a great carousel of sounds that produce interesting contrasts, because sometimes we can listen to soft and delicate moments, and seconds later powerful and enchanting tunes. I had the luck of playing this song on my radio show, which the same Ken could listen by the way, and I must say I received positive comments from my audience. So I hope people listen to this because I am sure they will be satisfied.

The shortest track comes next and is entitled "East of Fifty", which is a 6-minute instrumental song full of joy, power and symphonic passages. Keyboards are omnipresent, drums always playing accurate rhythms and figures, while bass produces the perfect lines that complement an excellent work. Finally, the fourth and longest song of the album comes, with the title of "Sky Above The Sun", Monarch Trail gives us a summary of their music in a long, challenging and addictive track. It starts with a calm rhythm, and well here the first element I appreciated was the guitar, which in this track is on charge of John Mamone. After 3 minutes vocals enter, introducing us to a new passage, but it would be really difficult to describe every single passage because as you can imagine, this long track provides so many atmospheres and nuances, changes and passages that let us feel excited, entertained and charmed by the band's sound. Endless colors and images are brought here, so it is our responsibility as listeners to decorate the own stories we create in our minds. At half the song there is a passage of calm and relaxation I love, because it is like taking a rest and a deep breath in order to start something new; here is where Cochrane's guitar appears accompaniying Baird's vocals in a beautiful moment; and when it finishes, a somber and tense sound appears and new episodes begin. And so on. Whayt a tremendous song to finish this wonderful album.

I really hope more people get involved with Ken Baird's music and of course this Monarch Trail album, because it is a solid release that I am sure any fan of symphonic prog would love. I will rate it with four solid stars, nearly perfect.

Enjoy it!

Review by Warthur
3 stars Monarch Trail is keyboardist and composer Ken Baird teaming up with the rhythm section of Dino Verginella on bass and Chris Lamont on drums, both of whom had previously worked with Baird on his solo albums. Teaming up with a range of guest guitarists, they offer up a brand of romantic, emotive neo-prog that's not so far away from the likes of early IQ. This and the cover art - which manages to be quite evocative despite its somewhat simple style - makes it sound credibly like some lost album from the early days of the neo-prog scene, when in fact it's a tasty dose of pastoral symphonic rock from present-day Canada. If you're very keen on this style of music, you will probably like it, though at the same time the vocals are not as confident as one might hope and there's plenty of better material along these lines out there.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I first heard of this album on the ClassicRock Prog sampler.Luminescence was the track,and I just had to get the rest.The band remind me partly of Flower Kings in their more symphonic outings,and also Greenslade ,Triumvirat and ELP.So you've guessed pretty well keyboard led by Canadian maestro K ... (read more)

Report this review (#1278331) | Posted by daisy1 | Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of MONARCH TRAIL "Skye"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.