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Volaré Memoirs album cover
3.66 | 17 ratings | 3 reviews | 6% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. North By Northwest (5:19)
2. Eighth Direction (6:22)
3. The Broken Waltz (5:28)
4. Three O'Clock (5:23)
5. The Odessa Steps Sequence (8:48)
6. Memoirs of a Misshapen Man (Live at Orion Studios) (5:09)
7. Oxford Don (5:57)
8. The Hive (4:15)

Total Time: 46:41

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Hatch / electric & acoustic guitars, Fx
- Patrick Strawser / Yamaha Clavinova, Fender Rhodes, synths (Micromoog, Roland MVS1/ Juno 6/106, Alesis Q57, Yamaha CS15, Kawai 111)
- Richard M. Kesler / bass, saxophone
- Brian Donohoe / drums

- Rob Sutherland / cello (1-5), ocarina (4)

Releases information

Recorded July 1995 (tracks 1-5, from the debut MC), 1997 (6,7) and 1999 (8)

Artwork: James Strawser (photo)

CD Pleasant Green Records ‎- PLGR003 (1999, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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VOLARÉ Memoirs ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(59%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

VOLARÉ Memoirs reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars How many Canterbury bands are there that have come out of the U.S.A.? I am familiar with the great band THE MUFFINS but none other except for this band. VOLARE's first recording never did get released on cd until now with this release. Interesting to note that these 5 tracks(from 1st recording) were all recorded live and the sax and cello were added later. Also we get 3 bonus tracks including "Memoirs Of A Misshapen Man" which is a song that they played live from the beginning, they had just never recorded it. This is a live version that was recorded in studio back in 1997.

"Oxford Don" was a song that didn't make it onto their debut "The Uncertainty Principle". This version was also recorded live in 1997 at a different studio."The Hive" was recorded specifically for this album in 1999 when they reunited briefly for some live shows. "North By Northwest" was inspired by HATFIELD AND THE NORTH. It opens rather softly with keys, light drums and cello. A full sound a minute in. The guitar is playing over the top. The tempo and mood keeps changing in this one. One minute it's a pastoral calm and the next it's a driving rhythm. Excellent tune. "Eighth Direction" is a heavier mid paced song. Quite a bit of bottom end on this one. Organ, drums and cello lead the way. Some prominant synth work 2 1/2 minutes in,but it's the drumming that impresses me the most here. Guitar and cello follow. Some great bass lines after 4 minutes. It calms right down except for the brief scorching cello.

"The Broken Waltz" opens with a pleasant melody as drums and keys are joined by cello. Pulasating keys 1 1/2 minutes in come and go. Intricate sounds fill the air. The sound changes 2 1/2 minutes in as piano comes in. A full driving sound a minute later. The drums are great. It calms back down to end it. "Three O'Clock" features acoustic guitar and cello melodies. Sax comes in as well. My least favourite track. The next 2 songs are my favourite tracks. "The Odessa Steps Sequence" has such a warm organic sound of light drums, keys and bass. When the guitar along with a full sound arrive 3 minutes in it's even better. I like the synths 4 1/2 minutes in. A nice heavy sound before 7 minutes with some excellent guitar and bass. "Memories Of A Misshapen Man" is next and I love the intro. The drumming is outstanding. Synths 3 minutes in. A powerful sound follows that is closer to metal than it is to Canterbury. "Oxford Don" opens with lots of atmosphere as they are creating some tension here until 1 1/2 minutes in. Then the guitar soars tastefully as keys,drums and bass play on. I like the way this guy plays drums. Nice synth solo. The song calms down 4 1/2 minutes in. "The Hive" opens with guitar leading the way as drums pound away. The guitar is beautifully played. Sax, liquid keys and throbbing bass fill out the sound. Is that mellotron 3 1/2 minutes in? Nice.

This is highly enjoyable Canterbury music with top notch musicianship.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars American Canterbury--two words which don't hang out much

Volare is the now-defunct project from Athens Georgia, a real hotbed of the Canterbury sub-genre of progressive rock. Kidding aside, "Memoirs" is not a typical studio CD release but more of a retrospective. It contains eight tracks, the first five of which comprised the band's cassette tape debut release recorded in the summer of 1995. So it acts as a CD reissue of their maiden cassette tape recording with three extra tracks recorded from 1997-1999. In the same period their first proper full length CD release was recorded and released by The Laser's Edge label, it was called "The Uncertainty Principle" and was quite well received by critics. "Memoirs" is a very nice historical release which fills in the edges of the brief career of Volare. It is another labor of love from Geoff Logsdon, the founder of Zarathustra Records and Pleasant Green Records, who as a prog lover has rescued and assembled important projects from the likes of Surprise, Rascal Reporters, Still, Almost Always, and Volare.

The five main tracks of "Memoirs" were recorded live as a 4-piece group with cello and saxophone overdubbed later. This is a jazz-rock instrumental band said to recall great Canterbury acts like National Health, Gilgamesh, and Hatfield and the North, but with their own unique style. They have a warm and laid-back vibe, neither too dry in the jazzy sense and yet they avoid some of the silliness that you might get from Zappa or Gong. The sound is born of a wide variety of keyboards textures and a nice tight rhythm section. The electric guitar is prominent of course but another color of this band comes from a generous helping of acoustic guitar. The cello and sax come in at various points as the dressing, the cello being a particularly organic and refreshing component. Volare compositions sound highly influenced by the joy of improvisation, they are earnest and engaging, an instrumental rock that doesn't forget about melodies. The results are very satisfying and I'm not sure why this band didn't catch on---in fact they really should consider making another album. This is good stuff which brings to mind the Italian band D.F.A. who are currently quite successful peddling a not-so-different product. Let's go Volare!

"Volaré's quirky and melodic prog rock shows strong Canterbury inspirations, including Hatfield and Happy the Man, in addition to slight jazz fusion and symphonic rock influences. Skillful dynamics range widely in intensity, sinuous odd meter passages groove, and textures from acoustic and electric guitars and a wide palette of synthesizers flesh out the sound." -Scott Andrews of all about Jazz

While the sound of the debut cassette tracks is well below today's standards of production, they are not bad and certainly very listenable for me. The three later tracks have improved sound quality. I would recommend any fan of fusion or Canterbury check out the welcoming jams of this under-the-radar American band.

Review by Warthur
3 stars This American prog group from the mid-1990s came together to play not in the neo-prog or revived symphonic prog veins, but to recapture the classic Canterbury sound as presented in times past by the likes of Hatfield and the North and National Health. Memoirs isn't a fully- developed album so much as it is a compilation of early tracks and demo material, and so perhaps on that front it isn't the best place to first encounter the band's music - in particular, the sound quality on the earliest tracks in the collection is rather shaky, and in a rather frustrating way: it's bad enough to sabotage the sound they're going for, but not bad enough that you can't tell where they were aiming, if you see what I mean.

As it stands, I think their sole fully-developed album (The Uncertainty Principle) better represents Volare and their accomplishments, but if you are very keen on Canterbury these rarities aren't too bad either.

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