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WINDCHASE

Symphonic Prog • Australia


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Windchase biography
WINDCHASE was created in the mid-seventies by Mario Millo (guitars, vocals), and Toivo Pilt (keyboards), former members of the famous Australian band Sebastian HARDIE, one of the most talented Australian bands of the seventies, and one of the rare progressive ones (both albums, "Four moments" (1975) and "Windchase" (1976).

If you enjoyed the melodic and orchestrated approach of Sebastian HARDIE this is a treat. Beautiful lyrical melodies, musical emphasis, lyrical guitars and keyboards, mix of sung and instrumental sequences, positive lyrics... , in the vein of '70s CAMEL in this rerelease of the 1977 album "Symphinity". A live bonus track, engineered in 1998, is included here. Like I said, a very good to great obscure gem from Australia. If you haven't had enough 70's prog such as CAMEL or GENESIS then check this out!

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SymphinitySymphinity
Import
Musea 1977
Audio CD$12.39
$10.99 (used)
Symphinity by Windchase [Music CD]Symphinity by Windchase [Music CD]
Belle Antique
Audio CD$81.85
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3.03 | 56 ratings
Symphinity
1977

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WINDCHASE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Symphinity by WINDCHASE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 56 ratings

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Symphinity
Windchase Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Although technically WINDCHASE is a one shot band that released their one album SYMPHINITY in 1977, it is in fact really the 3rd album for Australia's first symphonic prog band Sebastian Hardie with a slight lineup change. That band had been around since 1967 and only managed to put out a couple albums and had many a lineup change. It was Mario Millo (guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Toivo Pilt (keyboards) who decided to record this album by adopting the name from the second album for the band name of this one. SYMPHINITY took the Camel and Genesis pastoral style of symphonic prog and added a more jazz-fusion oriented sound to the mix. The results are a little hit and miss but when it hits it hits quite well.

This album caught my eye because of the really cool album cover and the title of the album is a clever agglutination of 'Symphonic Infinity.' Unfortunately like their previous band Sebastian Hardie they seem to continue their knack for being able to cleverly cut and paste various influences together into creative ways without adding much in the way of any originality. After so much time one would think that an idiosyncrasy of sound would find its way into the whole scheme of things but WINDCHASE happily goes down previously treaded grounds keeping things somewhat predictable but never dull and always well played. I have to admit this was a bit of a grower. It hardly blows you away upon first listen. The obvious Camel meets Caravan approach with some Brand X type of jazz-fusion in play is all nice and good but if you're expecting Earth-shattering performances here then you'll be sadly disappointed.

However if you like an interesting form of prog lite that has some beautiful melodies that induce fluttering mellotron action and nice drawn out jams, then you might enjoy this indeed. Although the drawn out lead track 'Forward We Ride...' seems a little long for its own good, other tracks like 'Gypsy' and the excellent 'Lamb's Fry' fair well. I find this album very worthy indeed of my attention but wish it was a bit more consistent in its delivery and it lacks that extra oompf that makes an album truly special. 3.5 rounded down

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 Symphinity by WINDCHASE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 56 ratings

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Symphinity
Windchase Symphonic Prog

Review by progbaby

4 stars With all due respect to the 2 star (and below) reviews for this album along with its lower rating than the other sebastian-hardie-related (including Mario Millo solo albums), I have to say I'm a bit puzzled by the lower ratings.

Having read the lower ratings, I sort of assumed this was more like the comparing the "invisible touch" Genesis album to the other albums by Genesis.

I was sort of expecting a poppy non-melodic half-arsed album thrown together as a part of a ploy to make money or go commercial. Sort of like "Giant for a day" by Gentle Giant (although I feel that album is not as bad as everyone else seems to make it out to be as there's some enjoyable tunes on that too).

If I had to compare this album with other types of efforts, rather than being really "poppy" or "commercial", I'd have to compare this to the Anderson/Bruford/Wakeman/Howe album. You know.. The album with "Brothers in Arms". Although not on part with the other Yes albums, that was still a pretty decent album.

I'd also have to compare this album to some Flower King efforts (ie, "Back in the world of Adventures" or things like that).

This album to my ears is in the same vein. Lots of tasty arrangements here with keyboards, guitars and nice vocals of Millo. The music here switches from classical inspired (to the excellent open piano section) on piano and later on in the album, you're treated to a nice accoustical passage by Millo.

For me, all the songs are good. "Horsemen to Symphinity", etc.. To my ears, I really like "Glad to be alive". A very catchy unforgettable melody.

This album is definitely prog with occassional pop leanings. But good pop to say. More prog.

Another thing I notice about this album and the Sebastian Hardie/Millo solo efforts is that they tend to all have an upbeat/happy feel. Very positive. Not like the negative Paternoster album :-)

This album ended up being way way better than I expected and it will get as much airplay as the other Sebastian Hardie albums. I'm puzzled by the lower ratings for this album but I respect those reviews. To me, I'm glad I have this album and it's perfect for those days when I need a "positive lift". "Glad to be alive" may be one of the most upbeat prog songs I ever heard. Makes me feel great after giving that one a spin.

FYI, the solo album "Epic III" by Mario Millo is a MUST for anyone who likes Sebastian Harde's "Four Moments" album.

Anyhow, SYMPHINITY gets a full thumbs up from the rock I just crawled out of.

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 Symphinity by WINDCHASE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 56 ratings

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Symphinity
Windchase Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Windchase is the shadow of Sebastian Hardie that produced some of Australia's most progressive 70s albums. Mario Millo on guitars and vocals moved onto a solo career in later years but before this he was an essential part of Windchase. He was also joined by ex- Sebastian Hardie keyboardist Toivo Pilt. Both were integral to the Sebastian Hardie albums "Four moments" in 1975 and "Windchase" in 1976. The following year in 1977 Windchase was formed as a new project, equally progressive but a fair amount more rhythmic notably with the addition of Doug Bligh on drums, and Duncan MgGuire on bass.

Mario Millo is a great smooth vocalist on the sole Windchase album "Symphinity",and he also plays mandolin, acoustic guitars and tubular bells. His colleague and good friend, Toivo Pilt, has a powerful presence on Hammond C3 L-111 organ, grand piano, Mini Moog, Fender Rhodes, mellotron, Arp 2600, Solina, Omni string synth, clavinet D6, handclaps and vocals.

The music is organic and flowing throughout on such wonderful songs as 'Horsemen to Symphinity', a mini epic that moves in a myriad of musical directions, and the instrumental 'Gypsy' that showcases the beautiful guitar work of Millo. I like the way this sounds like Camel in places and has an uplifting tempo and melody.

For a more rhythmic feel we can turn to 'Glad to be Alive', a sheer optimistic poppy approach, and the heavier tempos of 'No Scruples' which is replete with magical keyboard wizardry and some Yes-like harmonies. Pilt's keyboards are precise and have that atmospheric 70s spacey texture in tone; a bit like the style of Emerson. He is joined by a stirring lead guitar solo in the lengthy instrumental section; simply incredible music on this highlight track. 'Lamb's Fry' is the longest track at 9:39, an instrumental beginning with sizzling fry pan, and then bubbles along with chiming keys, a lamb bleating, and locks into a smooth groove with Omni string synth. The spacey sound of Moog takes over along a 2 chord jangling rhythm guitar motif. Pilt is in his element on keys but allows Millo to inject one of his trademark lead guitar breaks. This is one of the best pieces of music from Windchase, a veritable jam session where the musicians are able to unleash their talents as they desire.

To close the album there is a brief Hackett-like acoustic piece, 'Non Siamo Perfetti', and then 'Flight Call'. The return to vocals is startling after all the instrumentals. I always find the vocals relaxing, and this has some beautiful Mellotron strings. The CD has the bonus 'Horsemen To Symphinity (live performance - Mario Millo & men from mars 1998)' which is the excellent album track with extra filling clocking almost 12 minutes, featuring extended drum solo and dynamic lead break; a great bonus.

Overall it is a very relaxing album, though not without some flaws, and a wonderful example of 70s Aus prog. The album cover is one of the best for Aus prog, with mystical imagery, psychedelic colours and trippy artwork; UFOs and Ancient Egypt always works for me! Well worth seeking out as a vinyl treasure, quite rare, and a terrific one off album showcasing these very talented musicians.

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 Symphinity by WINDCHASE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 56 ratings

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Symphinity
Windchase Symphonic Prog

Review by sl75

4 stars Basically Sebastian Hardie with a new and improved rhythm section (Duncan McGuire formerly of In Focus/King Harvest/Friends/Ayers Rock, and Doug Bligh formerly of Galadriel). Other than that line-up change, the crucial difference with the original band is that Toivo Pilt is now writing as much music as Mario Millo - and I find his music much more interesting. He's not as ambitious as Millo, keeping all his compositions much simpler, but he also steers clear of Millo's cheesy pop side. Mostly his pieces display a stronger jazz fusion influence, which well suits the new rhythm section - "Horsemen to Symphinity" and "Lamb's Fry" are great examples, while "No Scruples" sounds kind of like a simplified version of Sound Chaser. I also like his brief piano solo "Forward We Ride". Millo, by contrast, gives us more pop cheese ("Flight Call") and more pretty but slight melodic guitar instrumental ("Gypsy"). I actually like his "Glad To Be Alive", despite it's generous quotient of pop cheese, the tune isn't bad and it's one of the more ambitious arrangements on the album. Quite an underrated album - shows what Sebastian Hardie could have been if Millo hadn't exercised such a stranglehold on the compositional direction.

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 Symphinity by WINDCHASE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 56 ratings

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Symphinity
Windchase Symphonic Prog

Review by Quirky Turkey

3 stars Windchase is pretty much Sebastian Hardie with a new rhythm section. They released Symphinity when prog was declining in success, and so were trying to keep it alive with this album. Retaining prog cliches and obvious influences from prog giants, the band came up with something not great but good.

Forward We Ride is a piano piece that leads on to the next song, Horsemen to Symphinity. It's well written and a good opener.

Horsemen to Symphinity is a mini-epic which drives along nicely with great rhythm and guitar playing. It feels a little lengthy though and the main guitar solo isn't very impressive. Not too bad.

Glad To Be Alive is a bit corny but I actually don't mind it. I have grown to enjoy it and like it more than most of the other songs. It has a good structure and remains interesting throughout. It may take a few listens to enjoy though.

Gypsy is an instrumental a bit like Sebastian Hardie song Rosanna, where Mario Millo does melodic soloing throughout. It's ok but I can't help but feel that it's a bit reminiscent of the verses in Echoes by Pink Floyd. I don't mind if the band steals somebody's sound, but if they use the same chord change it puts me off just a little. This song doesn't do much for me.

No Scruples is a psychedelic, upbeat song and I like it. The keyboards are strong and the vocals are strange. Although, I think the keyboard solo is a bit too lengthy and the song starts to break down a little. But it's still enjoyable.

Lamb's Fry is actually one of the songs I find slightly hard to enjoy. It feels like a long jam with no real depth. It's interesting and enjoyable but a little lengthy and doesn't do much for me. Makes good background music though, for when I'm not really concentrating.

Non Siamo Perfetti is basically a couple of Sebastian Hardie songs put into a short acoustic guitar piece. Recognizing this made me like it even more. It makes a good interlude.

Flight Call is probably the weakest of all the songs here. It's simple, laid back and nothing special.

Also, the artwork is a nice change from the Sebastian Hardie covers.

So overall it's a fairly decent album that grows on you over time. If you like Sebastian Hardie or Mario Millo, you'll enjoy this. 3.5 stars

(The version I reviewed doesn't have the live version of Horsemen on it.)

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 Symphinity by WINDCHASE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 56 ratings

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Symphinity
Windchase Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars WINDCHASE was formed by the singer/guitarist and keyboardist from the then recently disbanded SEBASTIAN HARDIE. They even went as far to name this band after the title of their final album "Windchase". I would describe this music as lighter and softer than SEBASTIAN HARDIE with lyrics that don't do much for me. Even the mellotron doesn't sound as good as it did with the parent band.

"Forward We Ride" is a short piano only intro track. "Horsemen To Symphinity" has a really good intro and I like when the tempo picks up as well. I'm reminded of CAMEL here.Vocals after 2 minutes. Some nice guitar after 3 1/2 minutes as it settles back some.The guitar stops 7 minutes in then it picks back up again like earlier. "Glad To Be Alive" has these sappy lyrics and the mellotron strings are just as wimpy. Sorry this song is really poor. "Gypsy" opens with children talking then the atmosphere and music takes over. Relaxed guitar and a beat after a minute.This is better. "No Scruples" opens with keyboards then it settles in and vocals and backing vocals join in. Not a fan of this at all but it's better after 3 minutes when the synths then guitar come in.

"Lamb's Fry" is almost a shock to hear because it sounds nothing like the rest of the allbum. A 9 1/2 minute instrumental that steals the show here by far. It opens with the sound of a lamb frying then these mellow keys come in and sheep sounds. It starts to kick in at 1 1/2 minutes.This is excellent.It's fusiony with electric piano and supurb drumming. I like the synths too. Love this track. Guitar before 4 1/2 minutes. Fantastic tune ! "No Siamo Perfetti" is a short acoustic guitar track. "Flight Call" is laid back with vocals.

3 stars and no more for this uneven album. I'll stick with SEBASTIAN HARDIE thankyou.

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 Symphinity by WINDCHASE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 56 ratings

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Symphinity
Windchase Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I still donīt know why some albums get so much flak from reviewers. When I got this album I was waiting for something really bad or at least boring, considering some nasty remarks I read on PA. So I was quite surprised to find the music on this CD to be anything but. Actually after repeated spins Iīm convinced that this is another long lost prog gem. Ok, not perfect (see more about that below), but still much more than I expected. Windchase was an australian prog group founded by ex Sebastian Hardie key members, Mario Millo (guitars & vocals) and Toivo Pilt (keyboards). They recruited a bassist and a drummer and Winhdchase was born.

Symphnity was their only album and the sound is not very different from Sebastian Hardie, although I see some development here. There is also some new technology involved (string synthesizers instead of melltrons for exemple). But the songwriting is top notch. In fact I liked it better than SHīs second offering (which ironicly the new group is named after). The perfomances are also exceptional, with beautiful guitar and keyboards interplay, backed by a strong and versatile rhythm section. The albumīs main problem seems to be partly the third track: Glad To be alive with its lame strings and also lame vocals is clearly out of place here and almost ruined the albumīs continuity. The instrumental part of that tune is not that bad, but the damage was done. Fortunatly, it is the only weak link . It seems that this song (along with the pretentious title) is the main source for the vicious attacks this CD got.

A pity, since the remaining tracks are simply great. Nice symphonic rock that mixes very well influences from such classic bands of the 70īs like Focus, Camel and Yes. Milloīs guitar playing is gorgeous, with a very melodic feeling that is so rare to find nowadays. Piltīs vintage keyboards are also a highlight complementing Milloīs guitar to make a real fine tapestry of sounds that I can hear for hours and hours without getting tired of or less moved. My favorite number is Gypsy, one of the best prog instrumentals I heard recently. As usual, nothing here is avant guard or groundbreaking. Just very good music, well written and played. Production is ok.

Conclusion: a very strong release from those Aussies, that deserve more atention that it got until now. If you like melodic symnphonic with simple, but tasteful, guitar and keyboards, welcome aboard! Iīm really sad that those guys did not release a follow up. But the times were changing (1977 was really a bad year for prog!) and they moved on. At least they left an excellent work for music lovers like me. Iīm glad to have found such prog gem. Four strong stars.

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 Symphinity by WINDCHASE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 56 ratings

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Symphinity
Windchase Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars It's funny, most of the times, I basically agree with previous reviews, add basically the same rating. But in this case, I feel the need to defend very fine album that doesn't deserve this fate as far as I am concerned.

I'm fan of romantic Prog Rock, because it doesn't sound cheesy to me, there is no "clone" band for me, because each band is unique (some are more, some are less, but basically there is always something worth of admiration).

Beautiful, Romantic, Vintage, these are just terms for the same feeling. Positive, optimistic mood accompanied by Prog. Perhaps not progressive, but for sure Prog (don't ask).

I like this, I can extremely well appreciate this, some may even say that I dig this kind of music (amongst others), but my pleasant surprise is even bigger when considering how low my expectations were - due to reviews I saw here.

Beautiful bass work here, especially when it is so prominent, switching sides with synthesizer (that is less dominant on this album).

For example Glad To Be Alive, yes, unreal (synth) orchestra (but the impression is very good), but that doesn't matter as long as it sounds very faithful and well. And this guitar change in the middle, ever-present feeling of goodness that is soaked in this song ( =>> album), it's worth of consideration.

It's grandiose and pompous, but I have no problem with that. I don't hate grandiosity, I admire it.

4(+) and I hope I didn't break some kind of taboo, didn't commit some kind of Prog blasphemy.

Not the best mark, because some elements sounds not so original, but after all, that's what a lot of this is about.

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 Symphinity by WINDCHASE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 56 ratings

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Symphinity
Windchase Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars Musicians getting lost in the outback.

What the holy camel was the musicians thinking when they made this album ? If I had as many personalities as this album has, I would had been put in a mental hospital for years. This album have Santana type of jazz and horrible 1970s Las Vegas type of music. The contrast could not had been bigger. That Las Vegas type of song, which not even Elvis Presley would had touched with a bargepole, is called Glad to be Alive. Well, one more time with that song and I can be found at the end of a long rope. It is an utterly horrible song. What the holy penguin was Windchase thinking ? The rest of the album is a mix of generic fusion and symphonic prog. The Santana copycat song they included on this album is named Horsemen to Symphinity and it comes twice. A studio and a live version. I guess the latter one is a bonus track. This song is by far the best song on this album. The rest is not too bad, actually. But this album is still a lost cause and one best forgotten. Thanx to PA, it is buried in the sands of time. I am not so sure if the musicians on this album is too fond of PA for bringing this album to attention of the general public again......... But, we all carries our crosses towards Golgotha.

2 stars

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 Symphinity by WINDCHASE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.03 | 56 ratings

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Symphinity
Windchase Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars This is a decent album, recommended to fans of romantic-tinged soft prog. In Australia, the ship of the desert is perhaps the kangaroo; Camel is only a musical influence that deeply affected Sebastian Hardie's fluid guitarist Mario Millo, who leads this offshoot with great success. Windchase's "Symphinity" is a 1977 record that continues where Camel's "Mirage" left off but with an added feature: Mario Millo's equal fascination for Carlos Santana and Jan Akkerman. So what so special here? Toivo Pilt is the keyboard maestro here, displaying his gift on Hammond C3, Grand piano, Mini-Moog, Fender Rhodes, Mellotron, ARP 2600, Solina, Omni strings and Clavinet D6. Duncan McGuire on bass and Doug Bligh on drums provide the rhythmic support. The 8.33 of "Horsemen to Symphinity" is a colossal slab in the Camel, Focus and Santana vein which will be reprised at the end of this recording by the live 1998 version of the band with new members, except for Mario. More detail on this piece later. The average "Glad to be Alive" is another 8 minute joyride but the vocal and the string arrangement are plodding heavy, blooming only when Millo lets loose a long series of guitar forays with some spirited bass rumbling from the McGuire mate, but the vocals sound hopelessly outdated. "Gypsy" provides Millo the luxury of using his volume pedal, sounding exactly like the famed Dutch guitarist, amid the wrapping Hammond (sounding exactly like Van Leer) and the stop-start Focus rhythm, unleashing a tinge of Carlos "El Gitano" Santana, for good measure. How can one not like this? Fetch me a Foster's, will ya! "No Scruples" relies on some slithering keyboard parts, with loads of synthesizer solos that give way to some mesmerizing Millo acrobatics and more unconvincing but brief vocals. "Lamb's Fry" is a splendid 9 minute journey back to Camel lands, with charitable doses of electric piano solos, oriental tinged synth runs and energetic bass/drums, adorned with a scintillating jazzy Millo flight, full of technique and passion, searing into Carlos territory once again. When these guys drop the vocal mikes, they truly shine. "Non Siamo Perfetti" (we are not Perfect) is a humble acoustic guitar piece that explores Mediterranean aromas (Down Under is a land of immigrants, after all) and is well worth the 2 minutes as an interlude. "Flight Call" is another poorly vocalized song that is utterly forgettable with the corniest lyrics this side of Oceania but those were the times, I guess. Even the short synth solo is syrupy and tasteless. Should have titled this "Fight Call" instead. Fetch me another Foster's, will ya! Thankfully, the crowning achievement is the reprise discussed earlier, a near 12 minute rampage that manages to outshine the original version's sheer brilliance, with resolute playing by Mario and the Men from Mars. Perhaps the live setting added some zip and gusto because even the brief singing is better, the spotlight clearly remaining on Millo's expressive fingers, twisting notes, tossing in some overt Santana allusions (not too many are skilled enough to emulate that high and rapid sustain) and jamming with utter zeal, including a whopping drum solo. About 15 minutes are yucky but the rest is admirable and worth the adventure. Hey, there from Down Under, what the heck! 3.5 Waltzing Matildas.

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