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UNITOPIA

Crossover Prog • Australia


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Unitopia biography
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.

Unitopia official website

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Buy UNITOPIA Music


CPR 3 - Christian Progressive RockCPR 3 - Christian Progressive Rock
Compilation
Threshing Floor Records
Audio CD$25.00
$25.00 (used)
Covered Mirror - Volume One: Smooth As SilkCovered Mirror - Volume One: Smooth As Silk
Import
Musea 2012
Audio CD$18.57
$29.99 (used)
The GardenThe Garden
Inside Out Music / SPV GmbH 2008
Audio CD$29.03
$23.98 (used)
More than a DreamMore than a Dream
Import
Unicorn DIgital Inc. 2007
Audio CD$114.70
$18.96 (used)
ArtificialArtificial
Import
Imports 2013
Audio CD$30.88
$16.70 (used)
One Night In EuropeOne Night In Europe
ProgRock Records 2011
Audio CD$24.99
Covered Mirror: Smooth As Silk 1Covered Mirror: Smooth As Silk 1
Import
Imports 2013
Audio CD$29.43
$36.63 (used)
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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)

3.47 | 62 ratings
More than a Dream
2005
3.50 | 124 ratings
The Garden
2008
3.72 | 170 ratings
Artificial
2010
3.81 | 60 ratings
Covered Mirror Vol.1
2012

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

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

4.16 | 19 ratings
One Night In Europe
2011

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

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
3.50 | 124 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.

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 Covered Mirror Vol.1 by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.81 | 60 ratings

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Covered Mirror Vol.1
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.

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 Artificial by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.72 | 170 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.

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 More than a Dream by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.47 | 62 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.

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 Artificial by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.72 | 170 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.

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 Artificial by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.72 | 170 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.

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 The Garden by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.50 | 124 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.

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 Covered Mirror Vol.1 by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.81 | 60 ratings

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Covered Mirror Vol.1
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars I have fantasized back in the late 80s that one fine day, when the trends and fads would gently get gobbled up by the technological future, that there would be old prog classics revisited with new renditions from 21st century musicians. Not because their creative kettle would be empty (it clearly is not as recent years have provided some amazing progressive releases) but from sheer and genuine respect for the great classics from the golden age. So I went about getting Nektar's A Spoonful of Time and the markedly less commercial "Covered Mirror Volume 1-Smooth as Silk" from Australia's Unitopia. The Aussies have put together a stellar list of fine prog, pop and rock classics, wrapped in wonderful artwork courtesy of the brilliant Ed Unitsky, songs that have inspired them to forge their own musical identity. And what a line-up it is!

After an opening self-composed prelude called "Signs of Life", the lads delve deep into music history. Klaatu's remarkable "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" is most extraordinary, a lush symphonic version that will stick in your mind for ever, showcasing orchestral aspects combine with the original Beatlesque melody. Resounding success!

Marillion's "Easter" has a lower register than the Hoggarth inspired tune, certainly a classic modern prog song if there ever was one, garnished with some sizzling synth soloing courtesy of Sean Timms and deep searing axe grinding from Matt Williams. Expanded with groovy backing vocals giving lead vocalist Mark Trueack room to moan and groan, the voice is actually closer to Peter Gabriel than anyone else. As good as the original.

Fellow Australian icon Iva Davies once fronted a remarkable 80s band named Icehouse that had strong prog flavorings within delicious melodies. "Man of Colours" is one of many stellar Icehouse classics, a brooding, emotional and uplifting tune, here given a more symphonic sound with heady doses of sultry sax that heats up the fire. Another "stick in your mind" tune with a superb backing choir.

Unitopia has no fear of slapping together a mighty Genesis medley of well-oiled snippets , incorporating the lesser known and early "The Silent Sun", attached lovingly to classic "Supper's Ready", blending into the majestic "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight", then veering into the New York-esque " The Lamb" and finally concluding serenely with "Carpet Crawlers". We all know the songs, their respectful interpretation combines genuine awe whilst doing a spicy take on the specifics, Trueack doing some magical Gabriel voicings in the process. Magnificent job, really, different but delicious.

Led Zeppelin, really? That takes balls to say the least, a feat rarely attempted in prog circles but having opted for the Celtic-tinged folk tune "Rain Song" only highlights the band's rather unique sense of inspiration. What's so cool is that Trueack's voice is obviously way deeper that Plant's unique shriek, giving the recognizable tune a different glow that is most entrancing. Having two percussors certainly gives a rhythmic pulse to the breezy guitar shadings, especially when the mood gets funky and heavy, bloody brilliant! Growl, baby Growl and moan??Orchestral finale with a vibraphone outro!

Supertramp? Really? "Even in the Quietest Moments" is what Unitopia chose to interpret and once again, they do a crack job! Birds singing, special effects and the majestic piano theme crackling through the clouds, the sultry saxophone recalling the melody once again, the lower register vocal shimmering like if a new tune, yes, this is another winner. Snap those fingers, oy!

Todd Rundgren's "Can We Still Be Friends" is a well-known radio tune, here lush with hushed vocals, certainly less assertive and commercial than the original. A fluttering flute solo allied with a pounding piano and vocal "lah-lahs" make this an interesting ditty.

"Speaking the Truth" is another brief instrumental interlude where the flute takes control, charging up the batteries for another segment of stellar covers , none better that the classic The Korgis mid-80s pop hit, "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime", a slow dance symphonic love song to die for. Some will find this inclusion surprising which is rather sad, as it's a fabulous piece of pop genius. Not as saccharine as the original, Unitopia again deliver a different shade for us to enjoy. My highlight track here, as I loved the original and well, it's a hard track to mess up, so deep is the beauty within and the gargantuan chorus. Contrary to The Korgis' version, here we have a scintillating guitar solo that stings and bites!

Balls? Yes, I mean ?..YES! A seamless medley of classics from the once crown jewels of symphonic rock, the Oz band takes on "Awaken/Close to the Edge" as an intro, flowing into the famous "Soon" section Of "Gates of Delerium", back to "And You and I", onward to "Onward", dive deep into "South Side of the Sky" and wave g'bye to a dignified, almost otherworldly version of "Owner of a Lonely Heart", turning all of these snippets into a 12 minute joyride. What makes this so grand is the deep voice, so completely the polar opposite of the heavenly Anderson wail. To me, that shows respect as well as artistic freedom, which is what inspiration is all about! They also stay away from any silly grandiose soloing, just like on the earlier Genesis medley, sticking to the song's inherent qualities! Smart and classy move that deserves recognition.

"To One in Paradise" is an Alan Parsons Project classic, given a total work over, less mechanical and sounding almost like a Beatles version with a slower, more deliberate orchestral coating. Perhaps the only slightly weaker piece on the album, but still very listenable and enjoyable.

The bonus track is a Flower Kings piece "The Way the Waters Are Moving" from the Paradox Hotel album, with a melancholic, vocal-oriented display of anguished pain. Trueack's delivery is stunningly fragile and utterly convincing. Bravo!

I mean some short sighted people and staunch purists will probably disagree with my assessment but if you really look at the context, this is a loving tribute to some amazing songs that I agree does not always succeed such as Fish's critically lambasted "Songs from the Mirror" but the Unitopia intention is clear and the result is simply fascinating.

4.5 Hidden reflections

Looking forward to a Volume 2!

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 Covered Mirror Vol.1 by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.81 | 60 ratings

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Covered Mirror Vol.1
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by Morsenator

4 stars There are many ways to fail a cover album, but Unitopia falls to none of them. Track selections don't have clichés (although some parts of the Yes and Genesis medleys could be considered such, but don't we all love those classics?), instrumentation is splendid and professional all the way, and doesn't include any mindless soloing. Still the versions here are pretty original sounding and interesting, my favourite being the downbeat Owner of a Lonely Heart at the end of the Yes Medley. Other great ones, of which I have yet to hear the original, are the catchy Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft and the beautiful and Even In the Quietest Moments. The side title "Smooth as Silk" fits the cd perfectly, as the mood remains sweet, calm and acoustic-based throughout the album. This is those ones that you like to put on in the evening, preferably served with a cup of green tea (as I did right now).

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 Covered Mirror Vol.1 by UNITOPIA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.81 | 60 ratings

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Covered Mirror Vol.1
Unitopia Crossover Prog

Review by Richens

4 stars When any band that I enjoy declares that they are going to release a covers album, my heart generally sinks. I didn't have great expectations of this covers album by Unitopia after absolutely loving 'The Garden' and 'Artificial'. However, there are some really fantastic covers here. Prelude and Calling Occupants give the album a great start. I had heard both the Klaatu and Carpenters version of this song before and this version meanders between the two of them with some really nice orchestration and some beautiful vocal work from the marvellous Mark Trueack.

'Easter', I believe is better than the original version and 'Man of Colors' is a nice track that I had never heard before. I am a massive fan of Genesis and was worried that Unitopia would really mess the medley up, but the arrangement is actually really good and works much better than I had imagined.

Truth be told, the whole album flows nicely. It's the first covers album I have ever listened to that doesn't sound like a covers album. Unitopia made all the songs their own and it is an album that I continue to listen to regularly. It has also got me excited for the reworked version of the band's first album 'More than a Dream' which is due for re-release in 2013 as well as more new material due in 2014. The future is looking bright for Unitopia. They are a group whose material I buy without question and without hesitation. As far as covers albums go, this is the only one I would recommend purchasing. It really is rather good!

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