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Dream Aria biography
Founded in Toronto, Canada in 2004

DREAM ARIA is a rare Canadian entry into the Neo cannon (there are only a few). The band began with composer, keyboardist, and producer Don Stagg. He had written some music, and was interested in adding drums. A friend suggested he get in touch with former associate Garry Flint. Flint had been a member of the Toronto band National Velvet, and the two had worked together in the past. They got together in 2004, and went to work.

At first, it was supposed to be more of a classical project, but the addition of drums changed the direction. At this point the decision to add vocals was made. The first thought was rock, but found two female singers who suggested opera. Don liked the idea, and let them write the lyrics and vocal melodies. This incarnation was named Odonata. The music is described as a blend of techno, world, classical, and rock. This didn't last long. The singers decided to go on their own, and took the band name.

While looking for a new singer, Don came across an ad on the music classifieds website, placed by a female singer. Enter Ann Burstyn. Ann is the daughter of two musicians who played for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She says that she became obsessed with music at an early age. With this kind of background, it is no wonder that she was destined to be some sort of musician herself. She had done work in opera, and been in quite a few bands. She also sang back up for Shania Twain, and Phil Collins. Don contacted Ann, and played four songs for her. She liked what she heard, and even thought she could add to them. When they met, the songs ("Pacis," "Spirit," "He Touched My Soul," and "Snapshot") were already getting airplay. Ann was asked to sing as closely to to the previous vocals as possible. However, she couldn't resist infusing her own style, and even changing the lyrics a bit. Luckily, Don and Garry liked it. Ann was also responsible for coming up with the new name. She says that the terms dreamy and operatic came to mind when thinking of the music. So, DREAM ARIA was the natural evolution.

The next step was the full album. To fill out the band, they brought in multi-instrumentalist Jozef Pilasanovic. His duties included guitar, bass, flute, and vocals. In 2005, "In the Wake" was released with many favorable reviews. They played their first live gig in December of that year, at Emergenza Festival. By May of 2006, Jozef was out, and Steve Agelakos became the new guitarist....
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DREAM ARIA discography

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DREAM ARIA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 10 ratings
In The Wake
3.85 | 7 ratings
2.80 | 5 ratings
Fallen Angel
4.20 | 16 ratings
On the Other Side
0.00 | 0 ratings
Out of the Void

DREAM ARIA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

DREAM ARIA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

DREAM ARIA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

DREAM ARIA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Transcend by DREAM ARIA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.85 | 7 ratings

Dream Aria Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Straight from the first notes of 'The Rhythm Of Now' I knew I was going to enjoy this 2008 album. Back in the 90's I headed out one night to a dive called Oxford Stocks to see the mighty Legend supported by Incubus Succubus, and here I was now listening to a number that could have been released if those two bands had joined forces. Ann comes over as a forceful Candia, Don provides all the finesse of Stephen Paine, Garry Flint has the energy of John Macklin while the combined four guest guitarists bring forth images of both Tony McKormack and Paul Thomson. High energy progressive rock with the emphasis strongly on the latter, this and 'Labyrinth' fair crunched through the speakers.

But when the third number, 'Transcend', started I soon realised that the guys were going to be mixing it up. This number is probably the heaviest in terms of riffs, but there are just so many elements in this as the music keeps changing and swirling, bringing in eastern influences, using a superb fretless bass against almost tribal drumming, while Ann again puts a different edge into her voice while always being in total control. It doesn't matter if she is being asked to sing sweetly, or provide a hard rock attack, her voice is always just right for the job in hand. Don keeps himself more in the background than many keyboard players, but he is always at the heart of it, whether it is gentle repeating piano or something more dramatic, while they always keep the guitars close to hand, ready to drive the rock element even further if the need requires, but never allowing themselves to stay settled inside any one particular element for too long.

I've only just come across this album, which at the time of writing hasn't even had a review on ProgArchives so I'm obviously not the only one. That is not only a shame, it's criminal, as this is a superb album.

 On the Other Side by DREAM ARIA album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.20 | 16 ratings

On the Other Side
Dream Aria Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars One day I was perusing LinkedIn, and a suggestion came up for someone I may know, Don Stagg. The name rang a bell so I checked out Don's profile, only to see that he is keyboard player with Dream Aria. My music filing system triggered in my brain, and I remembered reviewing their debut album some 13 years previously, so I dropped him a line. A short while later and I discovered that not only were the band still active, but that they are #1 on the Overall ReverbNation Global Charts {5 million bands}! This album has been featured on nearly 400 radio stations, while they also came #1 in the 2017 DarkAwards. Not bad for a band who in many ways seems to slip underneath the prog radar.

Checking the line-up for this 2018 release against their debut, which is still on my shelves, and singer Ann Burstyn, keyboard player Don Stagg and Garry Flint (drums) are still there, and have now been joined by Andrew Berezowsky (guitar, violin) plus a few guests. Ann is a professionally trained singer, who can go easily from operatic to rock, and on the title track provides wonderful harmonies to her own vocals as Don provides piano and keyboards which combine with strings to create something that is modern, delicate, rocky yet also restrained with inner beauty. What I found most compelling with this album is the sheer diversity of styles on offer. When I reviewed their debut I said that there wasn't a great deal of rock, but listening to opener "Black Mirror" there is no way that anyone can say that about their music these days. Hard guitar riffs and sharp guitars contrast with the held-down keyboard chords, drums, and attacking vocals which move through multiple styles all in eth first couple of minutes. From the off I was entranced and began to wonder what I have missed out on by not hearing the two releases between the debut and this.

I actually added this album to the ProgArchives database, and as of yet no-one else has reviewed or even rated this, which is something I am at a loss to understand. When an album is as powerful and wonderful as this, then they should be shouted about from the rooftops. This is stunning in just so many ways, and fans of neo, metal, symphonic, gothic and so many other styles need to investigate this immediately.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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