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UNITOPIA

Crossover Prog • Australia


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Unitopia picture
Unitopia biography
Active since 1996 - Disbanded in January 2014.

Unitopia is the rare case of prog from "down under". The band was formed by Mark Trueack (vocals) and Sean Timms (keyboard, guitar) after they were introduced by a mutual friend who saw that the two had similar tastes in music and the story goes that as soon as Timms heard Trueack sing, he knew they had to do something together. They released their first album, "More Than A Dream" in 2005 after spending 8 years on the albums, and have since been working on material for their second album "The Garden", which was recently released after 3 years of writing, recording and mastering. The band's influences stretch all across the progressive scope and make for a very intriguing sound that has one foot in "retro"-70s style progressive while still being able to sound like other artists in the modern progressive scene. They have a rather large sound to them, which is no doubt helped by their 6-member roster (including Matt Williams (guitar), Monty Ruggiero (drums), Shireen Khemlani (bass) and Tim Irrang (percussion)). They mix a combination of Flower Kings-like symphonic qualities with the soul of Ladder-era Yes and Trueack's unique vocals to make the brunt of their sound.

With the band's two first releases they have shown that they're an ambitious bunch. While the first album failed to make waves in the progressive community, their second album, The Garden has received critical praise in many prog circles, and as a double album with multiple epics, it certainly isn't one to be taken as "a flash in the pan". From here, one can only wonder what the band will do next.

A promising new entrant into the "retro" scene which should turn the heads of those interested in hearing more modern symphonic prog with various influences.


Related bands on PA:
- UNITED PROGRESSIVE FRATERNITY
- SOUTHERN EMPIRE

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UNITOPIA discography


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

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

3.49 | 90 ratings
More Than A Dream
2005
3.58 | 178 ratings
The Garden
2008
3.78 | 236 ratings
Artificial
2010
3.85 | 91 ratings
Covered Mirror Vol. 1 - Smooth As Silk
2012

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

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

4.60 | 25 ratings
One Night In Europe
2011

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

3.36 | 9 ratings
More Than A Dream - The Dream Complete
2017

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

UNITOPIA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Garden by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.58 | 178 ratings

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The Garden
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Though well produced, the choice of instruments, blended styles, and structural shifts often leave me scratching my head (much in the same way TFK and Spock's Beard albums do). Also, Mark's sense of melody is not always one that I find attractive or engaging. The band's skills at their respective instruments is never in question and the engineering of the sound and song tapestries are quite nice. Plus, there's an overabundant influx of 70s & 80s pop music melodies and hooks that just feel ? stolen, or ? wrong. (Think Ambrosia, 10CC, Styx, Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, and so many more.)

Disc 1 (49:33) 1. "One Day" (2:27) (4.5/5) 2. "The Garden" (22:35): (42/45) - The Garden Of Unearthly Delights - The Dragons Lair - Underground - Realization - The Way Back Home 3. "Angeliqua" (9:50) (17.5/20) 4. "Here I Am" (3:19) (8.5/10) 5. "Amelia's Dream / I Wish I Could Fly" (6:51) (13/15) 6. "Inside The Power" (4:31) (8.75/10)

Disc 2 (51:24) 7. Journeys Friend (16:28) (24/30) - Journey's Friend - The End Of The Beginning - The Need - The Main Attraction - The Path 8. "Give And Take" (5:09) (9/10) 9. "When I'm Down" (5:41) (7.75/10) 10. "This Life" (4:47) (8/10) 11. "Love Never Ends" (3:48) (8.75/10) 12. "So Far Away" (2:11) (4.25/5) 13. "Don't Give Up Love" (7:49) (12.25/15) 14. "321" (5:31) (8.75/10)

Total time 100:57

B-/3.5 stars; an album replete with mixed signals and oddly blended sounds and styles. Still, there is one excellent prog epic here, the title song, which is well worth checking out.

 More Than A Dream - The Dream Complete by UNITOPIA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
3.36 | 9 ratings

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More Than A Dream - The Dream Complete
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars - The first review for this release - UNITOPIA have undoubtedly been the most recognized act of contemporary Australian prog. Their music combines the continuation of symphonic tradition ā la The Flower Kings into modern sounds and catchy pop approach. The band called it a day after four studio albums (two of them being familiar to me before receiving this set to be reviewed). It's an extended 3-disc set of the debut album More Than a Dream (2005), with over two and a half hours of extra material. Generally I have very mild interest towards such releases, in which the same tracks are served in many forms and the quantity takes over quality. My first quick taste of the remastered album itself wasn't very positive either, and my expectations for the whole set were indeed strongly coloured by prejudices, but after listening to all the three discs my reception got whole lot warmer. A special mention goes to the cover artist Ed Unitsky, whose prefectionism has graced e.g. the albums of The Samurai Of Prog.

More Than a Dream starts with a slightly attacking song 'Common Goal' that features programming and horns in its dense soundscape. A cool soprano sax solo opens the next song 'Fate' which unfortunately starts repeating the sticky chorus way too much. 'Justify' is a near 13-minute prog piece. Its colourful arrangement is finished with a lovely child soprano voice of vocalist Mark Trueack's daughter Holly. The passionate composition 'Take Good Care' features a gorgeous orchestration. 'Ride' is based on a drum machine pattern that Sean Timms's liner notes call Genesis-esque for a good reason (compare 'Duchess' or 'Man on the Corner'). A pity that it's more or less buried under the wall of sound. All in all, one really hears that the album was worked upon for several years from the late 90's onwards, and occasionally that brings a sense of pushing things a bit too hard. The first disc ends with two pop songs that were excluded from the original album. According to Timms 'Unitopia' was influenced by Prefab Sprout, and 'There's a Place' was a commisional piece in the spirtit of 'Don't Give Up' by Peter Gabriel. His then wife Neusa Georgiou sang the ballad beautifully.

The second disc contains re-mixes and re-workings of the album tracks. Normally I'd consider this kind of disc rather pointless, but many songs actually sound better here. For example, 'Ride' has been freed of the most disturbing chorus repetition. There are enough differences to justify various versions. -- Disc No. 3 begins with epic tracks done for multi- national [Colossus] projects on the literary concepts of H. P. Lovecraft and Giovanni Boccaccio. After the previously unreleased 'Haunted Storm' comes four Dance Mixes of More Than a Dream songs. "I guess these songs could fall into the category of 'what were we thinking???'", Timms writes, but what the heck, it's funny to have at least this much of pure EDM on my record shelves! Finally there are two previously unreleased 1996 demos and a brand new song 'The Dream Complete', with which Trueack and Timms offer a parting gift to their loyal fans.

Yes, this set is pretty pompous, but if the price isn't too high it can be recommended to a wider audience than just to the most dedicated fans of the band.

 The Garden by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.58 | 178 ratings

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The Garden
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by IconiK11

4 stars The album is taking you through a journey. A journey of admiration and, unfortunately, bitter disappointment. But let me explain myself, as well as the reason behind this review being a 4.

My first encounter with Unitopia happened years ago, from this very album, which was casually playing in my friend's car when he was giving me a ride. I still remember that 'I Wish I Could Fly' was playing and I was really mesmerized by the duo of guitar and flute, which somehow made me think remotely of the 'Firth of Filth' from Genesis' 'Selling England by the Pound' (predictably, any flute, used in progressive music, makes me think of either Genesis or Jethro Tull, depending on the extraction of sound). And, even though the rest of the 'I Wish I Could Fly' didn't impress me that much, my friend proposed playing the album from the very beginning, claiming that this is so far, the best Australian prog rock band for him.

To be honest, I am grateful that back then I took his advice, bought the CDs next week and dedicated myself to listening to 'The Garden'. Which I love till today. Well, some parts of it.

The thing is that there is a great BUT with this album. The BUT begins when 'Give and Take' starts playing. For me this song signifies that the Australian authentic magic came to an end and commercial melodies are coming to spoil the impression, which was so carefully built throughout the first hour of the album. Yes, the arrangement is still very professional. Yes, the sound is still great. Nevertheless, it feels like the band has already planned creating a double album and didn't want to refuse this idea even after realizing that there is an obvious lack of an original music material (and, to my honest opinion, the same approach took place when 'Artificial' was created, as it lacks original and rich diversity of melodies. I am also surprised 'Artificial' is ranked higher by the Progarchieve users, as, for my humble opinion, 'The Garden' demonstrates better the composing talent of the band).

To sum up, I am rather critical to the CD2, even though my claim for 'bitter disappointment' in the first paragraph is, of course, exaggeration. Exaggeration, which is coming from an idea that the title song, 'The Garden' (with its interesting composing paths, which include a combination of fragile and touching melodies, masterly followed by the aggressive guitar invasions and, later on, some impressions of a tropical summer jungle or jazz), and 'Angeliqua' (which, with its sensitive intro somewhere from Sahara Desert, sets a mood of mystery and intrigues you to find out what is it about that woman, and hits you in your face with first guitar riffs) are setting a very high benchmark for the rest of the album. A benchmark, which, in my opinion, wasn't reached by some of the pieces of the second Unitopia album. Still, my ranking would be a 4 for absolutely great, rich, inventive arrangements and professional sound, which, for me personally, makes worth listening CD2, even taking into account the critics written above.

 The Garden by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.58 | 178 ratings

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The Garden
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by marcchauvette702

4 stars I have to admit - I started my listen to Unitopia's "The Garden" (totally a stumble-over find) while on tour of East Coast in USA in December. I was so set back by the title track, I couldn't listen to the rest of the 2-CD set. I played that track while in my hotel room in Buffalo, N.Y. at least ten times. I immediately went to see if video was available on YouTube and saw the title track advertised from the Live concert, and proceeded to play that several more times. If this compilation were to be based on the title track alone, I'd have given it a five-star rating. I have seen so many misleading comments on Mark Trueack's voice being compared to Anderson's, Collins', etc. when I found it to be incomparable to anyone other than himself - and maybe a little tonal resemblance to Francis Dunnery of "It Bites" ( also an Ausie-based band). I checked into further CD's and found like many other bands with great earlier recording, they had turned further away from earlier roots. I myself would give this compilation of works more credit than some of the earlier reviews, but I guess it's just a matter of preference. I have seen many reviews on PA in the past that sent me scrambling for certain recordings as described, only to be disappointed. I am a huge fan of the melodic progressive genre, and the title track from this gem is spot on for me.
 Covered Mirror Vol. 1 - Smooth As Silk by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.85 | 91 ratings

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Covered Mirror Vol. 1 - Smooth As Silk
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars Covered mirror Vol. 1 is a record from last year where the Australian group Unitopia performs a bunch of more or less known prog songs from different styles, groups and times. I think it's brave for a prog band to release a cover album, when the essence of prog is to be unique and perform your own music. The assumption then is to play those songs in a totally new way, or in your own style. The record with its under title Smooth as Silk was released 2012 and done by Mark Trueack (vocals), Sean Timms (keys), Matt Williams (guitar), Tim Irrgang(drums) Daniel Burgess (sax, clarinet, flute, didgeridoo, piccolo), Craig Kelly (bass) and David Hopgood(drums).

First of all I want to say they do a great job and their performance has a flow of honesty, great instrumentation and vocals. What I don't like so much is their selection of songs, I can't find it so astonishing and I don't find this very interesting. It could have been better without those Genesis and Yes medley's. They didn't got my acceptance, perhaps because of their structure or just the thought to "destroy" a couple of good songs. No, certainly I'm wrong, but THOSE medleys were'nt what I wanted them to be.

I shall praise the record's best moments. "Even in the quietest moments" (a Supertramp song) is perfect and gives me as a listener a wonderful time. It is also full of new thinking and in the end we can hear an exotic tune of perhaps didgeridoo but it also sounds Tibetanian or Mongolian. I like the record's prelude "Sign of Life Prelude" and the Marillion cover "Easter" is great. I also like Led Zeppelin "Rain song" very much which they did their own thing of and "Speaking the truth" is also more than approved. "Calling occupants of Interplanetary craft" was also a song I liked. But the rest is unfortunately quite disappointing.

I recommend you the mentioned songs, especially the Supertramp song, but perhaps not the whole album, certainly not the two medleys. This will get three stars from me.

 Artificial by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.78 | 236 ratings

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Artificial
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars At first I was a little disappointed with Unitopia's 3rd album because I felt it was too mellow, lacked the grandeur of its predecessor's epics, and its own epic, 12-minute Tesla, while consisted of many individually enjoyable parts, was too disjointed. But the album grew on me, I think it's high quality, a consistency we can expect from Unitopia.

The crossover prog label is very apt here. Basically, Unitopia play sophisticated pop rock with prog elements, deep baritone vocals, occasionally crunchy guitar and a pastoralist philosophy. After repeated listens, it grew on me that songs like Artificial World, Gone in a blink of an eye, Not human anymore have great variation between instrumental parts, verses, pre-choruses and choruses fully utilizing their five minutes. Great reward is a lush slow burner, maybe kinda typical, but saved by the deep vocals, and bonus track What kind of world is a great sing-along closer to listen while driving your car.

 More Than A Dream by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.49 | 90 ratings

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More Than A Dream
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by Progrussia

3 stars This is Australian proggers' first album and it shows - the arrangements and songs are somewhat simpler than on later albums. But a prog beginner often begins where a pop music zenith ends. Unitopia plays catchy, accessible crossover prog, equal times laid back and rocking, but with a crunchy guitar. Production is not loud, but very clear. Distinctive features are incorporation of world music and a strong baritone of vocals - no whiners or high range bellowers here. Curiously, on one of the songs from the second album he does a Bon Scott from fellow Australians AC/DC, but I digress.

This album begins rather uncommonly with Common Goal with its almost hard rockish vibe and quieter vocals. Highlights here are the irresistible pop rock of Fate with an ethnic brass leads, the first stab at an epic, 12-minute Justified with both reflective and powerful sections, Afro-beat Take good care, and More than a dream, similar in tone and infectiousness to Fate, but slower. Both that song and Justified end with strong guitar solos.

 Artificial by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.78 | 236 ratings

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Artificial
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by toilet_doctor

5 stars "Those, who have ears, listen!" (Jesus)

The best melodic symphonic I've heard for the last 3 years with soulful vocal, which fit to the music perfectly, and with so much twists and turns, changes, inclusions, fresh ideas and influences, that they name it crossover prog. The songwriting is top notch. 'Nothing Last Forever' is amazing tribute to The Beatles. But the most impressive is little masterpiece 13 min 'Tesla'. From Flamenco guitar and lush sax to full bodied orchestra, from vibraphone to prominent bass lines, and everything so tasteful, in right measure. Some complained that lyrics are to preachy. Who cares about lyrics, if music is so beautiful? Where these guys are from? Australia? Thank you Australia for bringing such a talented musicians to us. Sound quality is also very good. To describe this album in one word, I would say: "A Must". Will stay on my shelf next to Ad Infinitum. 5 classic prog stars.

 Artificial by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.78 | 236 ratings

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Artificial
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Artificial is their third album issued in 2010 is is to me less intresting then their previous album. Even in places the bands keeping the attitude and sound of The Garden album, specially in the longest tune Tesla, the rest are pretty ok and nothing more. Lest lenghtier pieces, only one is above 10 min - Tesla, the rest are all around 5 min or under. A more direct and with to many pretentious moments as on previous album, little more rockier moments but combined with prog elements, Artificial world is an ok piec but nothing excellent about. All in all, wheile the musicinship is ok and the vocal lines also good, the album is a let douwn face The garden, no more catchy instrumental sections. Only 3 stars for Artificial.
 The Garden by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.58 | 178 ratings

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The Garden
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Unitopia - this australian band formed around 2002 releasing so far 4 albums. The garden from 2008 issued at german InsideOut label is their best work for sure and without any doubts. This is a fantastic journey, in fact is a journey who last about almost 2 hours of music. Is a double album whwre each musicin shine, even the labum lacks in originality, is not a problem, the progressive rock offered as many qualities and many great memorable parts. First CD with the mosnter epic title track, clocking around 22 min, is a pure bliss for me, lots of tempo changes, moods, from mellow parts to more edgy , this is a fantastic pieces, spacey keyboards and guitars, furious solos all is here at the full capacity. From the excellent vocal arrangements of Mark Trueack through the sublime guitar and keyboard parts to the rhythmic section this album desearves attention from any prog listner, definetly one of the best albums of the last decade coming from Australia when talking about prog music.. Angeliqua is another highlit, is quite clear that Unitopia manage to be more intresting and captivating in lenghtier pieces, in the shorter one they are ok but not really impressive. On CD 2, the opener is another long tune Journey's Friend with almost 17 min of greatness, is quite at same level almost with The garden. THis life is another great tune, and the rest as on first CD are shorter and not quite on par with the rest, but not bad. So, all in all a great album that I like it, definetly is needed more then few spins to catch the over atmosphere, but in the end definetly worth it. Good eclectic prog with symphonic touches and ome jazz elenets added, the sax sounding quite intresting in many parts. 4 stars.
Thanks to King By-Tor for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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