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AQUAPLANAGE

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Aquaplanage biography
AQUAPLANAGE are the creative offspring of Fragile the internationally applauded Yes tribute act who have toured extensively with Steve Howe of Yes, and been endorsed by Rick Wakeman through regular airplay on Planet Rock. The origins of the project can be traced back to a road trip to Belgium some years ago. The repetition of passing kilometres was eased only by an intriguing sign that, although clearly intended as a warning, sparked a humour and warmth that reflected the spirit of the time. It was totemic and everything was possible.

AQUAPLANAGE are Robert Illesh (guitars, vocals, keyboards, orchestral arrangements, flute, programming); Steve Carney (lead vocals); Jon Bastable (bass guitar, samples) and Tom Dawe (guitar). Also featuring: Max Hunt (keyboards), Mitch Harwood (drums, vocals), Deborah Peake (violin), Ruth McGibben (viola) and Sophie Hurr (cello).

Material on the 2008 Aquaplanage album has been written over a number of years and features contributions from members of Fragile past and present. Aquaplanage has been a labour of love. Slowly emerging from conception to realisation, organically finding its true purpose and direction. It is the coming together of disparate ideas that found a common identity. Carefully nurtured towards its final shape and form, Aquaplanage is now ready to take its place in the musical firmament. It is true to the original script of progressive rock and the influences are there to be heard.

Welcome to the journey that is Aquaplanage!

Aquaplanage official website

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AquaplanageAquaplanage
CDBY 2008
Audio CD$88.24
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AQUAPLANAGE discography


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3.39 | 19 ratings
Aquaplanage
2008

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AQUAPLANAGE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Aquaplanage by AQUAPLANAGE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.39 | 19 ratings

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Aquaplanage
Aquaplanage Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars I quite have to agree with my good young Mary, even I like some parts of the first song, something like epic Ode To Grey Mornings. Except beginning and the end. Well, for sure at least half of this song. First four minutes because there's very, very annoying riff. Although it's switched by nice guitar solos (and stuff) and "central" part is fine by me.

Aqua, means water (in whatever language) and indeed, words that people imagine, calmness, peace. And that's what this, what describes this album best. Leading instrument is piano and again, it absolutely perfectly fits. Either piano, or harp playing at dawn of the day.

Heaven's Gate, I really like guitars here. And in next song (the one with long name), there is classic rock combined with prog in quite a unique way (bands usually tries to avoid these connections, as they're mostly fatal, when they don't succeed.

4(+), mostly for those, who likes melancholic prog music with many calm parts. And these that tries to rock aren't too harsh, don't worry. Can there be genre relaxing prog ? (relaxing like you can chill out while listening it and prog like you're chilling out while listening music with certain quality inside)

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 Aquaplanage by AQUAPLANAGE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.39 | 19 ratings

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Aquaplanage
Aquaplanage Symphonic Prog

Review by Colourful

4 stars First fifteen minutes was really annoying for me, I can't find something good or interesting on first track. I've written it somewhere and I must write it again, maybe my hearing is failing, but there was almost nothing for my musical soul. This strange feelings hit me almost all the first half of the album.

But there is a reversion about this --- from average instrumental song Solara things are getting much better, song called Aquaplanage changed my mind... great instrumental thing, with amazing acoustic guitar, nice, quiet and melodic parts, great and gentle bows ... I can listen to it again, and again, and again ...

Heaven's Gate... it's successful experiment to build Heaven's gate on Earth. :-) Good singer with combination of good instrumentalists makes me happy, it's almost so good like previous song.

A Song to Stand Above Them All ... huh, so unexpected rockin' ! I wanna sing and dance ... acoustic guitar, which drags me down again ... combination of el. guitars and acoustic guitars (and if it's good arrange, like here), it's a kind of magic for me. Great one.

Theme repeats and changes main guitar theme from Aquaplanage so I like it, too.

One Star is "sayin' -goodbye-" in light folk/rock style and Christmas atmosphere. (I think it will be one of my faves Christmas songs, heh...)

I think first half of the album was trial of fire. 'Cause if you withstand it, you can listen clear, beautiful music, which can takes you to Wonderland.

Result = worse 4*

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 Aquaplanage by AQUAPLANAGE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.39 | 19 ratings

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Aquaplanage
Aquaplanage Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars The first thing in noticed when I received my copy of Aquaplanage's debut disc was the band line-up. A 2 guitar (one rhythm! Hmmm!) and 2 vocalist attack , with a bass and drums section. Leader, guitarist, vocalist Robert Illesh also handles a bevy of assorted vintage keyboards as well as massive doses of flute. A somewhat unique set-up that nevertheless enchants from the get-go on "Ode to Grey Mornings" (now how British is that!), a sultry mixture of Jethro Tull , Fruupp, early Styx, Fireballet with hints of Gentle Giant (the vocal work) and Canterbury (the guitar/organ/synth interplay), keeping things masterfully upbeat and propulsive. Illesh unleashes (pun intended) a series of blistering leads with the bruising bass shining the path. With Tantalus keyboardist Max Hunt on board, the mood gets highly electronic, synths bubbling and sequencers gurgling, recalling dense prog symphonics that transcend genres. Avian sound effects put this epic to rest. The delicious "The Sands of Time" is a very successful Middle Eastern motif that immediately pleases, a clever proggy take on a little embarked style with astute vocals, both voices contrasting nicely within the Arabic orchestrations. A sheer prog classic in many ways, slashing guitars dueling with Bedouin horns, as if trying to provoke some crazed cobra into striking and spewing its venom. I stand and applaud. The lazy "Nature's Sunday" starts off deliberately soporific and minimalist, taking its sweet psychedelic time in blooming, perhaps a bit too long and too weepy but I guess there are fans out there who like to "breeze" through records (snort!). This one just doesn't fit in the scenario, regardless but then the mid-section blow-out explodes in a sudden contrast that rocks à la Blue Oyster Cult., especially the dual guitar rampage plowing mercilessly ahead, a fluttering synth adding some Dominance and Submission to the events. Bizarre but edit the too long intro next time, lads! "Solara" is an instrumental, mainly keyboard exercise that opens with elegant piano, rousing organ blasts, some church organ exaltations, a searchlight synthesizer zephyr scouring the horizon, a total winner for us ivory fans! The mood rapidly enters the ponderous and wistful expanses of thoughtful ambient electronica a la Tim Blake before whistling its way back to the piano and its refined charisma. I stand up again and clap! That's twice now. The title track announces its fleeting atmospheric presence, with delightful pastoral guitar themes encouraged by a lonely piano, a somber violin and then the rest of the string quartet, an aromatic slice of progressive orchestral folk music that will thrill Anthony Phillips fans, "par exemple". I personally enjoy lushly relaxing music like this, especially when it succeeds in awakening romantic souvenirs of a bygone age. That three now, my palms hurt! "Heaven's Gate", by contrast is perhaps way more immediate in flirting with saccharine themes, a proggy Eric Carmen if you like, flush with cheesy romantic fluff that is just too corny for me. The guitar parts are sloppy, the piano redundant and the vocal, while highly polished, is Krispy Kreme in double doses. Toss this one, lads! I even prefer "All by Myself", okay? Yuck! "Song to Stand Above Them All" is frankly no better, the Styx/Journey/Saga stamp way too drippy, creating a wholly predictable mood, I mean I stopped listening to this kind of simple drivel along time ago. The dual guitars are boring attempts at Southern pickin' and the funky high-pitched vocals, you sort of wonder if they listened to the Eagles (the solo is right out of Joe Walsh territory), only the rare synth give this any color. Terrible ! They finally snap out of their temporary lapse of reason by returning to something original and melodic , the graceful "Theme' that strangely recalls the glory days of Camel, thanks to the bluesy guitar solo that would make Latimer smile. I stand but I am confused now. Guys, stick to the prog, evacuate the AOR. Which is sadly how they finish the disc, imposing another poopy piece of pop, a Christmas song for crying out loud ! "One Star". I mean please! My head shakes in bewilderment. Oh well, the good tracks are amazing but you will need scissors for this one. The next one will determine the future of Aquaplanage. Tarcisio is absolutely correct, a mystery looking for its own sound is what we have here. Barely four puzzled aquastars.

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 Aquaplanage by AQUAPLANAGE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.39 | 19 ratings

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Aquaplanage
Aquaplanage Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Aquaplanage´s first CD is a mixed bag. You can tell those guys have the chops: they are simply terrific players and have some astonishing harmony vocals. Well, they had to since they were a Yes cover band called Fragile. And even though it is clear that Yes is a very strong influence, they are not coypcats of that legendary band. They have a great potential, even though their debut album suffers from a general lack of direction.

The CD starts quite well with the 15 minute epic Ode To Grey Morning it´s a kind of a more progressive version of Jethro Tull (guitarrist Robert Illesh´flute here sounding a lot like Ian Anderson´s). Not overtly original, but good anyway. Then comes the very different Sands Of Time, where the band takes an almost totally arabic structure to new heights. Great crossover prog! But I must say that the sensation I had was that those tracks were played by two completely different bands. This feeling remains with the next tune, Natures Sunday, a more slow, bluesy song. Good, but a bit awkward.

Next are two instrumentals: Solara is a keyboards only track that sounds more like a big introduction than proper song, just a 5 minute filler. Aquaplanage is a better efford with some nice acoustic guitar fills. Not very outstanding, but nice. Then the band suddenly turns to a more popish sound with Heaven´s Gate. Good AOR stuff, but it sits oddly with the more progressive material of the first part. After that we have A Song To Stand Above, probably the weakest in the whole CD. It sounds like Yes in its worst times. Theme is another instrumental that has some nice sounds, but in the end goes nowhere. One Star finishes the album with a simple, acoustic pop tune.

I found very hard to rate this album. As I said above, those guys are good and have a great potential, but they are far from having their own sound. I guess Aquaplanage is not enough for a full 3 star rating. 2,5 is more fitting. Promising, but with a long way to go yet.

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 Aquaplanage by AQUAPLANAGE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.39 | 19 ratings

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Aquaplanage
Aquaplanage Symphonic Prog

Review by axeman

3 stars This album deserves at least one review. I like what I heard at the beginning of the album. The band definitely has some skill in the vocal department. The second song on the Album, The Sands of Time, is perhaps one of the more Arabic prog song I've ever heard. Oh sure, they've all tried to do them--but the singer almost pulls off the quarter tones, and at least successfully blends prog and that vocal style.

Add to that the CSNY-style vocal harmony in the early sections of the opener, Ode to Grey Mornings, and you can better appreciate their ability with vocals. The song goes a number of places in it's fifteen minutes, but the early section sounds as if Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were singing to Tull prog-folkisms, with Andy Latimer providing some anthemic licks here and there.

They can also play. The fourth song, Solara is a nice keyboard-driven pastoral, starting out on piano, and moving with various theme and tempo changes to synth. Very nice piece. Followed up by the title track, which is a steady progression played mostly on the acoustic guitar and strings. It has a light planing (planage?) motion.

The album mostly goes downhill after Aquaplanage. The first half of the album contains a eclectic overture, an arabic-prog thing, a decorated guitar-driven rocker, in Nature's Sunday and the last two songs mentioned.

The next two songs are pretty cheesy. Heaven's Gate is a sort of decorated pop. And A Song to Stand Above Them All stands above about none, with its rocky, bouncy pop feel, and makes me think of Yes at their most naive-sounding. (Tormato?)

The instrumental Theme brings it back to respectability for 3 minutes. But at the end of that we are back to prog-pop of a bright and bouncy variety with One Star. But even that is a cut above the middle of the album. And despite the oppressive perkiness, that the phrase "Christmas Day" does appear in the song, can kind of account for tone.

My bottom line is that this is a talented band, capable of making about 60% of a good record, an impressive suite that opens up the album, which reminded me of Big Big Train in their ability to move from fluidly from one influence (or pastiche motif) to another. The first couple of songs will definitely see my player again. It's about a 2.5, with the first half being solidly in 3 territory.

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