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RAK

Symphonic Prog • Switzerland


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Rak biography
It's a challenge to make a bio of Prog bands like RAK from Switzerland, they have a good website full of photos and links to reviews (In German) but absolutely no information about the history of the band, influences of the musicians or anything that could help people to know them better, something that Progheads love to discover, so this bio will be short:

The band was formed in Switzerland in the XXI Century and play a melodic form of Symphonic (At least they have samples) the band is formed by the ex THONK member Mark "RAK" Grassi in the keyboards, Dave Thwaites (aka Zoz) in the vocals, Mike Liechti (Drums), Sam Siegenthaler (Guitar), Tobias Reber (Touch Guitar) and Silvana Trepp in the violin.

Their only release is the conceptual "Lepidoptera" (2004) which is in the borderline between Symphonic and Neo Prog that presents influences from Genesis (4 men era), Marillion, The Flower Kings and Spock's Beard but with a totally different and very modern atmosphere, something I can't deny is that the approach is very original.

The album tells two stories, the first one is the journey of the Monarch Butterfly and the second one is the story of a girl who in order to survive is forced to change, interesting and well developed as the music, very good but not exceptional.

I believe the album is a must have, not only for the quality but because this is a new approach to old Symphonic Prog for a new century, only will ask them to provide more information in their already good website for those of us interested in finding more about them.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

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Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Brouwer/Boccherini/Rak - Guitar Quartets [CD New] US $22.98 Buy It Now 2h 9m
HOT CHOCOLATE - EVERY 1'S A WINNER (RAK 270) 7" VINYL RECORD VG 29 US $8.27 Buy It Now 2h 23m
SUZI QUATRO - 48 Crash - 1973 UK RAK label 7" vinyl single US $6.61 Buy It Now 3h 6m
SUZI QUATRO - 48 Crash - 1973 UK RAK label 7" single US $11.58 Buy It Now 3h 23m
HOT CHOCOLATE you'll never be so wrong 12" 2 trk b/w robot love (12rak331) uk ra US $8.27 Buy It Now 4h 2m
Guitar of Stepan Rak - Stepan Rak New & Sealed CD Free Shipping US $23.49 Buy It Now 5h 26m
DONOVAN - MELLOW YELLOW / SUNSHINE SUPERMAN - 7" VINYL 1970'S RAK US $13.24 Buy It Now 5h 39m
ENID and then there were none RAK349 7" VINYL RECORD VG/VG 29 US $9.93 Buy It Now 5h 47m
RAK - GUITAR OF STEPAN RAK NEW CD US $23.77 Buy It Now 6h 44m
MUD Dynamite 7" Single Vinyl Record 45rpm RAK 1973 US $9.93 Buy It Now 7h 9m
MUD Oh Boy 7" Single Vinyl Record 45rpm RAK 1975 EX US $9.93 Buy It Now 7h 9m
MUD One Night 7" Single Vinyl Record 45rpm RAK 1975 US $9.93 Buy It Now 7h 9m
Kim Wilde(7" Vinyl P/S)Cambodia-RAK-RAK 336-UK-VG+/VG+ US $5.99 Buy It Now 7h 11m
Racey SMASH AND GRAB vinyl LP RAK 1979 Near Mint! US $8.27 Buy It Now 7h 14m
SMOKIE - LAY BACK IN THE ARMS OF SOMEONE - RAK 251 7" VINYL RECORD VG 29 US $5.95 Buy It Now 7h 17m
KENNY " BABY I LOVE YOU OK " RAK 7" SINGLE VG 1975 US $3.30 Buy It Now 7h 29m
HOT CHOCOLATE " PUT YOUR LOVE IN ME " RAK 7" SINGLE VG 1977 US $4.13 Buy It Now 7h 31m
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VINYL 7" SINGLE - HOT CHOCOLATE - WHAT KINDA BOY YOU LOOKING FOR (GIRL) - RAK357 US $11.58 Buy It Now 7h 36m
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KENNY THE BUMP / FORGET THE JANES, THE JEANS AND THE MIGHT HAVE BEENS RAK 186 US $2.30 Buy It Now 7h 54m
MODERN SOUL BOOGIE 45 ART SCHOOL & THE MIGHTY MOTOR GANG hold on tight RAK UK US $39.99 [0 bids]
7h 56m
PLACEBO Loud Like Love CD + Live At RAK Studios DVDDIGIPACK NEW US $12.95 Buy It Now 8h 3m
SUZI QUATRO - Daytona Demon - 1973 UK RAK label 7" US $9.93 Buy It Now 9h 14m
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CHRIS SPEDDING Hurt +inner sleeve RAK 1977 UK press US $14.90 Buy It Now 11h 35m
MCVAY boys go dancing 12" b/w do me do me do me (12rak375) uk rak 1984 US $8.27 Buy It Now 12h 24m
HOT CHOCOLATE - YOU COULD HAVE BEEN A LADY / EVERYBODY'S LAUGHING (RAK ZS7 4503) US $1.23 Buy It Now 13h 22m
JEFF BECK MASTERS OF ROCK LP RAK (1974) GERMANY EX++ 60's TRACKS ROD STEWART US $9.93 Buy It Now 14h 3m
KANDIDATE i'm young 12" b/w go to work on you (12rak316) pic sleeve uk rak 1980 US $8.27 Buy It Now 14h 8m
PROMO 70's ROCK 45 RPM - C.C.S. - RAK 4501 - "WHOLE LOTTA LOVE" US $5.00 Buy It Now 14h 30m
Kim Wilde - Water On Glass / Boys, Rak Records RAK-334 Ex A1/B1 Press US $6.61 Buy It Now 14h 43m
Kim Wilde - Kids In America / Tuning In Tuning On, Rak Records RAK-327 Ex US $6.61 Buy It Now 14h 43m
SMOKEY (Smokie) IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM Irish Press RAK 1975 NM US $10.00 [0 bids]
15h 22m
ROCK FUNK SOUL CCS C.C.S Lp Vinyl Record UK SRAK503 RAK 1972 % US $29.99 [0 bids]
16h 51m
3D dance to believe 12" 3 trk extended version b/w the club and nearer (12rak382 US $8.27 Buy It Now 16h 58m
UK 70's Pop 45 JAGGY BONNETT Where Have You Gone b/w Let Me Love You M- 7" RAK US $11.99 Buy It Now 18h 21m
Hot Chocolate - Box Selection (their 8 Rak Album NEW CD US $19.97 Buy It Now 18h 54m
Heavy Metal Kids - Kitsch LP 1977 UK original on RAK US $12.00 Buy It Now 21h 7m
VINYL 7" SINGLE - BABY I LOVE YOU, OK! - KENNY - RAK207 US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
VINYL 7" SINGLE - BOY OH BOY - RACEY - RAK297 US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
SUZI QUATRO-GREATEST HITS 1980 RAK LP US $8.27 Buy It Now 1 day
Hot Chocolate(Vinyl LP)Greatest Hits-UK-SRAK 524-RAK-VG/VG US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
Hot Chocolate(Vinyl LP)XIV Greatest Hits--SRAK 524-RAK -Ex/VG US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
SMOKIE lay back in the arms of someone 7" WS EX/ dutch rak US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
KIM WILDE love blonde 7" WS EX/ uk rak RAK 360 noc US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
ROCKY SHARPE & THE REPLAYS clap your hands \ twenty-four hours 7" WS EX/ RAK345 US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
KIM WILDE love blonde \ can you hear it 7" WS EX/ uk RAK 360 US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
SMOKEY don't play your rock 'n' roll to me 7" WS EX/ uk RAK 217 noc US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
MUD dynamite 7" WS EX/ rak RAK 159 demo sticker b-side US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
KANDIDATE i don't wanna lose you/what are you gonna do RAK 289 uk 1979 7" WS EX/ US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
KIM WILDE view from a bridge/take me tonight RAK 342 uk 1982 7" PS EX/EX US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
MUD mud rock SRAK 508 uk rak LP PS VG/VG US $13.24 Buy It Now 1 day
Chris Spedding 1976 10 x 8 RAK Records Publicity Photo US $16.57 Buy It Now 1 day
HOT CHOCOLATE every 1's a winner SRAK 531 uk rak 1977 LP PS EX/EX US $14.90 Buy It Now 1 day
HOT CHOCOLATE xiv greatest hits SRAK 524 uk rak LP PS EX/EX US $14.90 Buy It Now 1 day
NEW WORLD new world self titled same s/t SRAK 502 uk rak 1971 LP PS EX/EX US $14.90 Buy It Now 1 day
C.C.S. The Best Band in the Land ISRAELI CBS/RAK PRESSING RARE LP NM- US $14.50 Buy It Now 1 day
LP KENNY - THE SOUND OF SUPER K (RAK SRAK 518) 1975 UK ORIGINAL ISSUE GLAM-POP US $16.49 Buy It Now 1 day
HOT CHOCOLATE 7" VINYL SO YOU WIN AGAIN RAK 259 1977 EX US $5.72 Buy It Now 1 day
Kim Wilde - Love Blonde 12' Vinyl Single with large poster -Import Issue RAK lbl US $9.99 Buy It Now 1 day
LP HOLLAND PRESS - SUZI QUATRO (SUZI...AND OTHER FOUR LETTER WORDS) - 1979 - RAK US $15.00 Buy It Now 1 day
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HERMANS HERMITS Hits Of...Orig. British Inv. RAK 1983 US $4.99 Buy It Now 1 day
KANDIDATE - I DON'T WANNA LOSE YOU - 7" VINYL PICTURE SLEEVE 1979 RAK US $5.45 Buy It Now 1 day
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Hot Chocolate(7" Vinyl)Chances-RAK-RAK 350-UK-Ex-/Ex US $6.61 Buy It Now 1 day
Kim Wilde "Dancing In The Dark" 12" RAK UK 1983 US $6.99 Buy It Now 1 day
AZTECS - RAK 4510 - Most People I Know Think That I'm Crazy - 1972 ROCK PROMO M- US $15.00 Buy It Now 1 day
45 RPM company record sleeve~Vintage RAK records blue+white UK British sleeve US $5.00 Buy It Now 1 day
Racey (7" Vinyl)Some Girls-RAK-RAK 291-UK-VG/VG+ US $7.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Kim Wilde(7" Vinyl P/S)Chequered Love-RAK-RAK 330-UK-Ex/VG+ US $8.99 Buy It Now 1 day
ADRIAN GURVITZ Classic EMI RAK 1982 FREE SHIPPING US $34.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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1 day
Donovan Self-Titled Album (1977 RAK LP) US $16.55 Buy It Now 1 day
HOT CHOCOLATE LP IMPORT UK XIV Greatest Hits - RAK SRAK-524 (1976) US $19.75 Buy It Now 1 day
SUZI QUATRO Suzi & Other Four Letter Words +inner sleeve RAK 1979 FREE UK POST US $19.22 Buy It Now 1 day
Hot Chocolate - Every 1's a Winner, RAK SRAK531 Ex Condition A2/B2 Press US $11.58 Buy It Now 1 day
KENNY give it to me now 7" b/w rollin' (rak153) uk rak 1973 US $8.27 Buy It Now 1 day
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1 day
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1 day
Smokie vinyl Bright Lights & Back Alleys RAK 1977 German Press Vinyl Record LP US $29.99 Buy It Now 1 day
CHRIS SPEDDING "CHRIS SPEDDING" RARE RAK SRAK 519 IMPORT ENGLAND US $19.00 Buy It Now 1 day
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JEFF BECK - Hi Ho Silver Lining - 1972 UK RAK 7" US $8.27 Buy It Now 1 day
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HOT CHOCOLATE - NO DOUBT ABOUT IT - 7" VINYL 1980 RAK RECORDS US $4.95 Buy It Now 2 days
LP UK PRESS - CHRIS SPEDDING (HURT) - 1977 - RAK records SRAK 529 + INNER US $15.00 Buy It Now 2 days
LP - UK PRESS - SUZI QUATRO (IF YOU KNEW SUZI...) - 1978 - RAK SRAK 532 US $15.00 Buy It Now 2 days
SMOKIE 7" VINYL C/S I'LL MEET YOU AT MIDNIGHT RAK 241 1976 EX US $4.95 Buy It Now 2 days
CHRIS SPEDDING self titled LP EX 1976 UK RAK 519 motor bikin jump in my car US $9.99 Buy It Now 2 days
3D dance to believe 7" b/w the club (rak382) pic sleeve uk rak 1985 US $8.27 Buy It Now 2 days
3D nearer 7" b/w the club (rak377) pic sleeve uk rak 1984 US $8.27 Buy It Now 2 days
COZY POWELL NA NA NA / MISTRAL RAK180 7" VINYL RECORD VG TO EX 30 US $3.79 Buy It Now 2 days

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RAK discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.89 | 40 ratings
Lepidoptera
2004
3.28 | 31 ratings
The Book of Flight
2012

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

RAK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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RAK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Book of Flight by RAK album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.28 | 31 ratings

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The Book of Flight
Rak Symphonic Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Multinational, Switzerland based outfit RAK is the creative vehicle of Marc Grassi (music) and Dave Thwaites, and was formed back in 2004. The band released their debut album "Lepidoptera" later the same year to critical acclaim, and their live support of it has been described as a successful one. "The Book of Flight" is the band's second full length production, and was released in February 2012.

And it is a fairly compelling sophomore effort they have made themselves, an album that will find a strong appeal amongst followers of symphonic progressive rock. That this is a conceptual creation is usually an advantage among followers of this type of art rock, and any CD that kicks of with a song clocking in at 17 minutes is bound to raise interest in itself. That the following three pieces all clock in at epic length another positive aspect for quite a few I surmise.

But framework aside, the music itself is fairly intriguing too. It's easy to hear that the main composer in the band is the keyboardist, as quite a lot is based around the tangents for this band. Wandering piano motifs and an organ backdrop or more or less mainstay elements throughout, and soaring keyboard solos can be found aplenty. The guitar has more of a supporting role when not soloing, usually delivering harder edged, dark toned and dampened riff constructions that contrast the tangents quite nicely. Steady and often fairly sophisticated rhythms complement the dominating instruments quite nicely throughout. And the different instrumental elements are utilized in an efficient manner. Each part of this conceptual creation have multiple themes, with a nice and logical development to each of them. And they complement each other fairly well to. Sparse sequences that use guitar and piano only are used to good effect, gentle vocals and piano sequences too, but the most common mode explored and the one followers of symphonic progressive rock most likely will appreciate most are majestic, richly layered arrangements dominated by multiple keyboard textures where the guitar adds the darker tones needed for that really grandiose atmosphere to appear.

Well made and well produced, and with some surprisingly well placed effects. The dissonant instrumental textures used on The Deception elevating this particular piece to a higher level a prime example in my opinion at least. But there's one aspect of this production that limits my enjoyment, which is the lead vocals. Dave Thwaites has a fairly uncommon vocal style, at least in my experience, and I suspect that his choice of tonal range and delivery both will be a feature that will, so to say, make or break this disc. Those who enjoy his lead vocals and are generally fond of contemporary symphonic progressive rock will regard this album as a strong one, while those who don't, those sensitive to lead vocals in particular, might find them too be too distracting. I'll readily admit to being in the latter category in this case.

Overall this makes for a fine piece of symphonic progressive rock, and as long as you don't have a problem with the aforementioned vocal style this conceptual creation should be a nice addition to your collection. Especially if you enjoy fairly complex, contemporary sounding music of this kind explored within epic length compositional frameworks.

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 The Book of Flight by RAK album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.28 | 31 ratings

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The Book of Flight
Rak Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Lepidoptera II: The Book of Flight' - Rak (6/10)

Following up on their critically successful debut 'Lepidoptera', Rak continues their concept piece with another plate of symphonic hard rock. First starting as a highly melodic neo- progressive act, this Swiss band has continued to ferment their ambition into something a little more musically challenging. 'The Book of Flight' is an obvious work of toil. However, despite their obvious promise and talent, Rak's sophomore leaves me with a mixed impression.

Even playing within a genre infamous for its indulgence and complexity, it still takes a certain level of conviction to write an album-long piece of music. While 'The Book of Flight' may be broken into 'volumes', it flows more or less as a continuous piece of music. Even disregarding that, the songwriting is drawn out and longwinded, with four of the album's six tracks leaping over the ten minute mark. Surprisingly, the vast majority of Rak's music is still vocal driven, in spite of the lengths. Instrumentally speaking, Rak's style is on the edgier side of the symphonic, or 'classic' prog rock sound, with crunchier, quasi-metal guitars to balance out the typically lush keyboard and synth playing. The musicianship is strong, with the impressive melodic synths and technically challenging guitar playing making up the highlights. For the most part, the instrumentation is kept underneath the domination of the vocals, although 'The Deception' and 'The Great Machine' both feature some excellent instrumental moments that feel far too short-lived.

For a fairly long album that's largely led by the vocals of Dave Thwaites, his singing becomes quite a hot topic when judging the record. 'The Book of Flight' convinces me of two things concerning Thwaites' vocals. The first is that he is a good singer, with a voice that's well capable of conveying emotion and warmth. The second, and perhaps more important point is that, despite Thwaites' strength for more laid-back vocals, his delivery on 'The Book of Flight' too often sees him attempting to give an 'edgier' performance. In truth, it does not work nearly as well as a singer like Thwaites is clearly capable of. Much like the instrumental passages, Thwaites' more tender moments are excellent and brutally short- lived. Due to Rak's more drawn out and repetitive composition style, a single less-than- successful vocal idea can drag down an entire 'volume' her,e and that is certainly the case with 'The Book of Flight'.

Rak have impressed me, if only mildly, with this second album. Indeed, it does feel as if this band needs to consolidate their sound. While ambitious; the longform format feels largely superfluous relative to the band's style and emphasis on repetition. There is plenty of potential and promise with the band's sound, and 'The Book of Flight' is certainly worth a listen to any fan of a more keyboard-laden prog sound, but there is some room here to improve.

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 Lepidoptera  by RAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.89 | 40 ratings

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Lepidoptera
Rak Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars From the ashes of Swiss prog band Thonk comes this act, headlined by ex-Thonk keyboardist Mark Grassi and grounded in the Solothurn area. Dave Thwaites on vocals, drummer Mike Liechti, guitarists Sam Siegenthaler and Tobias Reber completed the original Rak crew.Their debut ''Lepidoptera'' saw the light in 2004 on Circle Records.This was a double-concept release with the first story refering to the migratory journey of a monarch called Butterfly from North America to the South and Mexico and the second one telling about the life journey of a girl who is forced to change to survive and escape a life of fear, abuse and brokenness.

Musically the album goes along the lines of bands like SPOCK'S BEARD, MAGIC PIE or MARS HOLLOW, an effort by the group to come up with a refreshing sound of the 70's Classic Prog style.The musicianship is much driven by the diverse keyboard work of Grassi and the dual strong guitar lines of Siegenthaler/Teber and moves from great and bombastic organ-led Heavy Prog cuts, always with a modern edge, to Neo/Symphonic pyrotechnics with synths and guitar solos on the front.The nice amount of powerful breaks and the overall dynamic performance are sure to satisfy lovers of huge prog sounds.A few electronic beats and smooth ballad-like moments added let the album breathe sufficiently.Of course this is not the most original touch on prog's community, influences by the masters like GENESIS and E.L.P. are more than evident, the singer though has a decent and very expressive voice unlike many bands of the modern prog age.

''Lepidoptera'' belongs among the good albums of the new progressive movement.Without being anything close to a masterwork, it remains a work full of well-executed arrangements and a deep conceptual atmosphere.Any fan of Classic Prog, Neo/Symphonic Prog or Retro-Prog should give Rak a try.

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 The Book of Flight by RAK album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.28 | 31 ratings

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The Book of Flight
Rak Symphonic Prog

Review by robbob

3 stars From prom. copy.

Well I was expected this new work . Octophera I a beautiful album a true symphonic prog great.

So I start listening this one.

First song :awesome, beautiful...as expected ..symphonic prog rock with strong synths.

Second and Third songs nearly as good as the first.

But then.... A strange change to a quite Pain Of Salvation style..

¿What was the idea? Im not saying POS is a bad prog band...but I was expecting a symphonic prog rock continuing experience.... Where they trying to be more modern ....? Please stay in your beautiful symphonic prog style ...do not innovate...or innovate but in the way your fans will be delighted..please..

Not a bad album ( even less the critic)

3 stars

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 Lepidoptera  by RAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.89 | 40 ratings

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Lepidoptera
Rak Symphonic Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

4 stars Rak is a band forgotten from Switzerland. I said forgotten, but after almost a decade they released in 2012 their second album.

Lepidoptera (2004) is a great Symphonic Prog release weirdly made out of 20 short tracks. We're often used to 5 tracks albums and songs over 15 minutes long. Not here. Even their 'Lepidoptera'song, divided into three parts is short (less than 5 minutes).

A curious fact about the band is that they have a touch guitar player in the lineup (Tobias Reber).

Rak (2004) deserves a good listening. This is a good album forgotten into the digital shelves of our modern times. Go for it.

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 Lepidoptera  by RAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.89 | 40 ratings

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Lepidoptera
Rak Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars RAK are a Swiss band who are listed here as Symphonic but there is also a Neo-Prog flavour to their music that can't be ignored. I must admit as a reviewer who does so track by track it's always disappointing to see albums with 20 songs on it like this one (haha). At least many of them blend into one another.Themes are repeated as well throughout this 2004 release. And no I didn't know that girls grew on trees.

"To The Refuge" is led by keyboards and drums early and it's fairly heavy until 2 minutes in when the vocals arrive and it settles down.The tempo will continue to shift on this one. A good start. "Metamorphosis:One" is not nearly as good as the opener but it's okay. "Metamorphosis:Two" features almost spoken vocals as synths,organ and drums help out. "Coming To Terms" picks up as the organ joins in followed by vocals then guitar part way through. "Lepidoptera:Freefall" is a short piece that picks up speed as it goes. "Lepidoptera:Beast" is fairly heavy while "Lepidoptera:Savage" opens with keys before a heavy sound including drums kicks in.

"Dreams Like These" opens with piano then synths and violin come in before a minute.Vocals before 2 1/2 minutes. "The Consequences" opens with the synths swirling as heavy drums join in.Vocals after a minute. "Metamorphosis:Three" opens with piano and cymbals then guitar joins in. "Those Bright Wings" opens with piano before vocals and a beat join in. "Last Words" is fairly laid back with vocals then tasteful guitar and floating organ comes in. "Requiem" continues with the floating organ while female vocal melodies join in.This is good. Piano, vocals and drums before a minute. "Flashback" has some energy with organ and vocals. "Bumblebee Chase" is mellow with piano. "Play Possum" continues with the piano melodies. "Preperation" continues with piano still. "Departure" has these drums, piano and synths that standout. Organ too then vocals arrive after a minute as it settles down. "Migration" opens with piano then vocals. It gets fuller and more passionate. Some nice guitar too. "Release" features piano, organ, vocals and a beat. A calm before 2 1/2 minutes as piano only plays to the end.

A pretty good album overall but it fails to capture my imagination. If your into concept albums and melodic music you might want to check this out.

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 Lepidoptera  by RAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.89 | 40 ratings

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Lepidoptera
Rak Symphonic Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Melodic neo/symphonic journey

"Lepidoptera" is the best Marillion album that Marillion never made. Of course I don't mean to so superficially label RAK as clones when they are a fine band on their own accord, yet the point must be made that this album will appeal tremendously to fans of Hogarth-era (and even Fish era) Marillion. In my opinion this album is much more enjoyable than some of the Marillion mediocrity over the years, though not quite to the level of works like "Misplaced Childhood" or "Brave." The work is an emotional and sprawling study of change and the human condition, via the life of a girl as well as in secondary metaphor through the incredible migration of the monarch butterfly.

As Ivan notes in his bio RAK inhabit a strange space between neo-prog and modern symphonic progressive and is something of a missing link between the two. To my ears though it is somewhat closer to neo-prog in the feel of the material. The album is an hour long conceptual work broken into two acts and twenty short tracks, but really it flows along as one complete piece, the different songs dissolving into the next one.

The two main personalities of the basic RAK sound come from the work of composer and keyboardist Marc Grassi and lyricist/vocalist Dave Thwaites. Grassi's work cannot be understated: "Lepidoptera" is a wonderful set of compositions filled with memorable melodies, long peaceful interludes, aggressive bursts of energy, good cohesion and "flow." His work on the keys is solid and diverse, from the lovely shades of background "color" to the beautiful sections of piano (or synth piano?whatever it is!) to the nice array of modern energetic synth. Thwaites has a unique voice that reminds me of Hogarth but it comes with a more energetic, sometimes defiant sounding delivery. I've not seen him sing in video but I'd guess he is a somewhat theatrical performer, or at least physically expressive in his performance. The rest of the band is solid as well, fine drumming, expressive and juicy lead guitar work. It's a combination of music that is very pretty at times and emotionally charged, even frantic at times, as the themes of the songs shift from exploring the lighter and darker sides of the subjects. Soft melodic piano interludes such as "Dreams Like These" counter modern, pulsing synths sounds and distorted guitar chords in the rocking sections. "Metamorphosis:three" is also a cool section with this repeating synth motif over very subtle drumming, rumbling low end, and a lengthy but low-key guitar improvisation. Even the softer, almost new-age feel of the keys and programmed-sounding rhythms of "Those Bright Wings" works beautifully in a relaxing way. A bit of something for everyone in terms of tone and mood.

It's nice the way the album leaves room for "drift", some ideas are clearly obvious, but others seemingly develop from simply being given space, it doesn't feel like they are just trying to get you from one chorus/catchy part to the next as other modern prog seems hell-bent on doing. The many transitions on this album are handled quite skillfully. There is room for more sound treats however. This album credits a violinist but I think a long conceptual work could benefit from more strings or some different instrumentalists or more vocal variation. The production is also less than perfect but certainly respectable.

"Lepidoptera" is quite good in my estimation though well short of a masterpiece, I'd place it over three stars, not quite four, but enough to round up to four. The tri-fold insert features some gorgeous artwork from Mark Wilkinson, on both sides of all panels. Really nice touch. "Lepidoptera" is an album that will please many and I'm really surprised it has slipped below the radar of the site's many Neo-prog fans. Fans of modern day symphonic and crossover prog, things like Moon Safari, Phideaux, and Magic Pie, may also do well to track down this recording. Those into metal and harsh/dissonant prog can safely pass on this.

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 Lepidoptera  by RAK album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.89 | 40 ratings

BUY
Lepidoptera
Rak Symphonic Prog

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Yes, 5 stars.GO AND BUY IT!!! I wish I could change something in this world. I'd give a copy of this album to every ProgHead on this site and beyond, because it is BEAUTIFUL!!!

Terribly underrated concept Masterpiece from Swiss band with weird name RAK. Don't pay much attention to the length of songs: it's a concept story more than an hour long. It's very hard to review this CD: it contains elements of almost every Prog genre - from ELP-like bombastic bits (lots of organ scattered through the album, also a lot of piano and synth sounds...very good keyboardist - he's not the centre of everything, so you can concentrate right on the music without getting angry about his immense ego ;-) ) to MARILLION-like emotional ballads (piano-only "Dream like These"); from PAIN OF SALVATION-like metal (what a singer! Imagine a mixture of FISH and that Geoff from QUEENSRYCHE!) to spacy PORCUPINE TREEish spots; from Scandinavian-like darkness to the light of more Folkish tunes...

The main basis of it all - the Holy MELODY and the blessed EMOTIONS, the very things I adore in Prog! Another recent discovery of mine along with MILLENIUM's "Interdead". This album is recommended TO ALL PROG-FANS!!! Instead of meandering into hyped average bands or devoting yourself to 70s (G)Oldies try this one!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! A MUST!!!!!!!!!

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Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition.

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