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RICK MILLER

Crossover Prog • Canada


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Rick Miller biography
Richard Norman Miller

Canadian composer and multi-instrumentalist RICK MILLER made his debut effort as a solo artist back in 1983 with the new age production Starsong, which shifted a highly respectable 30.000 units at the time. He would follow up this venture with Windhaven in 1987, and his efforts Interstellar Passage from 1998 and the EP No Passion, No Pain from 2009 would continue exploring similar musical territories.

But after honing his craft working at Sound Design Studios in Toronto throughout the 80's and 90's, Miller wanted to have a go at his true musical love as well, atmospheric progressive rock inspired by artists such as Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues and Steve Hackett.

This lead to a flurry of releases following the start of the millenium: The One (2003), Dreamtigers (2004), The End of Days (2006) and Angel of My Soul (2008). These efforts gave Miller a good reputation, and in 2009 he was signed by Canadian indie label Unicorn Records. His first release for this label was the 2009 effort Falling Through Rainbows.

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RICK MILLER discography


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

2.54 | 13 ratings
Starsong
1984
2.30 | 14 ratings
Interstellar Passage
2000
3.16 | 19 ratings
The One
2003
3.42 | 29 ratings
Dreamtigers
2004
3.53 | 26 ratings
The End Of Days
2006
3.91 | 45 ratings
Angel Of My Soul
2008
3.99 | 43 ratings
Falling Through Rainbows
2009
3.69 | 43 ratings
In the Shadows
2011
3.89 | 76 ratings
Dark Dreams
2012
3.93 | 56 ratings
Immortal Remains
2013
3.90 | 168 ratings
Heart Of Darkness
2014
3.75 | 80 ratings
Breaking Point
2015
3.75 | 49 ratings
Delusional
2018
3.90 | 87 ratings
Belief in the Machine
2020
3.89 | 27 ratings
Unstuck in Time
2020
3.72 | 21 ratings
Old Souls
2022

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

RICK MILLER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best of Rick Miller
2018

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

3.00 | 3 ratings
Paradox - Electro Leftovers
1985
5.00 | 1 ratings
No Passion No Pain
2009

RICK MILLER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Heart Of Darkness by MILLER, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.90 | 168 ratings

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Heart Of Darkness
Rick Miller Crossover Prog

Review by Realmean

4 stars The continuation of a long journey in the heart of a musical empire at the crossroads of tortured introspection and spiritual fulfillment. The eponymous title, opening the album, is perfectly timed: the vaguely tribal percussions give rhythm to a strange tempo dance, in which the flute, the rock guitar, the synth layers cross, question each other, measure each other, under the celestial judgment of Rick's vocal. To establish and succeed such a structure in hardly more than 6 minutes, it is a challenge. "Blood of the Rose" continues a certain dreamlike paradigm instilled by the flute melody, but on a much more aerial global tone, carried by a floydian and noticeably atmospheric guitar; we go from darkness to reverie, or almost. This is what can sometimes confuse with Rick Miller (or on the contrary, force the admiration): his music installs us in an atmosphere to extract us almost immediately, but with a surprising tonal continuity. The same logic is applied with the next track, "Castle Walls", which breaks the musical structure once again and opens a boulevard towards an emotional emphasis between melancholic oath and spiritual appeasement - with a bright melody that imposes itself to the ear, carried by the vocals and magnified by the choirs. But the masterpiece of the album is indeed "The Dark Lady": it is a concentrate of Rick Miller's know-how, a real slap in the face which is not the least surprising paradox when you know by heart the recipes he has been applying for at least 10 years. The first half is pure artist: everything is there, favorite instrumentation, cavernous vocals, rhythm breaks, diluvian guitars and promises of the end of the world. The second half is no less 'Gilmourian', but with a charge of heavy cavalry and space rock that we don't know with the Floyds. The bass is demonic, and a synthetic deluge from another world suddenly paralyzes your senses, before fading away once in unexplored limbo, to come back in force afterwards; classic conclusion taking back the theme of the beginning. But what a power! Out of the ordinary. To be discovered without delay for the followers of Gilmour's Floyd. A music both very inspired by the great standards of the post-rock of the 90s, and in a way unique in its kind. For me, to be ranked among the 5 best of Rick to date, including 'Dreamtigers', 'Angel of my Soul', 'Dark Dreams' and 'Unstuck in Time'.
 Old Souls by MILLER, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.72 | 21 ratings

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Old Souls
Rick Miller Crossover Prog

Review by Realmean

3 stars Rick Miller's work is a great continuum, which could appear melodically very accessible (and many of us will not reproach him for it!), but which deserves however much more than a distracted ear, to seize all the inflections and the subtleties.

'Old Souls' opens the ball with "Time's Way", the epic of the album, in which Rick deploys all his know-how. Against a background of rather gloomy lyrics, evoking a form of obsession with reincarnation, the song travels along a path that is by turns mysterious, tormented, obvious, and reassuring. Few composers are able to bring all this together in one piece! And yet, it all flows. "Guinevere" is a model of amorous decay, for which Rick minimizes the instrumentation to emphasize the sense of melody. "Haunt me" on the contrary embarks its share of electric guitar phrasing, in counterpoint of the atmosphere of spiritual relaxation that it distils. "Virgin Rebirth" follows in the footsteps of "The Dark Lady" ('Heart of Darkness'), with its keyboard acceleration; it takes again the spirit and the approach, while proving however much shorter! A nice spin, especially since its title could be a wink to the one of its elder... "The Red Sky" is classically 'Millerian', with a long flute introduction, which leads to an eminently melancholic and mysterious development. "Ixtlan awaits" is even more connected to its musical anteriority than "Virgin Rebirth", because it seems impossible to listen to it without hearing again the female vocals of "Call" ('Dreamtigers') ! And I would dare to say that the semantic proximity is almost blatant, because the titles of these 2 tracks could be connected: "Ixtlan awaits"... for a "Call". "A stitch in time" provides the same nervous tension as "The Land and the Sea" ('Belief in the Machine'), but with a more oriental approach. "Lost Karma" is another demonstration of esoteric or medieval poetry (with its flute and harpsichord-like guitar), and "Don Quixote" almost closes the album, giving it its second moment of bravery. An instrumental break logically Hispanic, and a development less varied than that of "Time's Way", but in which the electric guitar expresses all its bite.

Rick's music uses an incredibly rich methodology to achieve, almost every time, the same result. It is very difficult to recommend one album of Rick Miller, rather than another, to synthesize his entire work. Most of his records could completely fulfill this mission! And yet, you will miss something if you don't have the opportunity to take the bridges that link the intentions and the dreams of the composer, from one album to the other. This music is a spiritual work, vast... and complex!

 Old Souls by MILLER, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.72 | 21 ratings

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Old Souls
Rick Miller Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The following review is a satirical expose meant only to entertain and amuse, albeit with a healthy dose of sarcasm. No harm was done to any animals while writing this critique.

PROGLAND DISTRICT COURT - MONTREAL CANADA CASE No 147-22 ATTENDING JUDGE: tszirmay of the Prog Archives Legal Dept. The PROSECUTION: Ignoramus Bosch The ACCUSED: Rick Miller The CRIME: section 6b of the Prog criminal code: Blatant plagiarism of established Prog legend Pink Floyd RECENT JURISPRUDENCE: Dave Kerzner - New World

The DEFENDANT: Richard Norman Miller is a Canadian composer, arranger, and musician, starting out in 1983 and amassing a whopping 16 studio albums. His true musical inspiration is firmly entrenched in the atmospheric style of symphonic prog, with clear appreciation for artists such as Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, Genesis and Steve Hackett. His latest opus "Old Souls" was released on January 6, 2022.

The EVIDENCE: Discography Starsong (1984), Interstellar Passage (2000), The One (2003), Dreamtigers (2004), The End of Days (2006), Angel of My Soul (2008), Falling Through Rainbows (2009), In the Shadows (2011), Dark Dreams (2012), Immortal Remains (2013), Heart of Darkness (2014), Breaking Point (2015), Delusional (2018), Belief in the Machine (2020) and Unstuck in Time (2020).

Both 2020 albums, "Unstuck in Time"and "Belief in the Machine" were stellar efforts that received the highest praise among PA panel of Collabs Tcat and kevrowland. Interesting to note that on progpositivity's review 2408326 of the latter albums, Mark clearly explains in paragraph 2 the similar aspects to PF in detail. But in paragraph 3, "This music has some differences from Pink Floyd that are worth noting" and proceeds to enumerate a fine set of factual realities that illuminates the argument for dismissal.

THE CASE: There are approximately 59,673 guitarists who have studied Gilmour as being one of the most influential of all-time, so Barry Haggarty or Kane Miller are just part of the faculty of the School of Rock and they do not disappoint throughout the recording. "Old Souls" kicks off 2022 with a brief bang that settles into an extended atmospheric voyage on "Time's Way", a languorous sweep where the electric guitar leads the way, Rick's deft keyboards and sultry hushed voice (quite different from David or Roger) in tow, a tight binary shuffle gently chaperoning. Just lovely. The charming "Guinevere" introduces a mournful cello, a galloping horse and some subtle acoustic, adding to the neo-medieval choirs and Rick's fragile voice, as pastoral as melancholia will ever get, "a tearful song" draped in the most beautiful melody. Beauty remains at the forefront with the poignant "Haunt Me", displaying a simple melodic elegance, dancing with a softly entranced lead guitar. Miller does not try to reinvent the wheel, he just expresses melody like no other, in a way more romantic fashion than the Battersea Station foursome. The somber cello echoes once again (as it will regularly again) , providing a most profound foundation for the melancholia , though on Virgin Rebirth" the pace picks up swiftly, a nimble synth motif egging the beat along , as the lead guitar wails in the blue skies above, before settling down to calm serenity. The blue skies turn red on "The Red Sky", where the classical toys enter the fray, delicate cello and flutes settle the score, as the piano eventually carves out the theme, in the most soothing and relaxed manner possible, unrushed, and mature. Rick's sorrowful vocal lament and spooky organ flurry welds with "angel's cry". Mateusz Swoboda' s cello buries the heartbeat. Celestial choruses greets " Ixtlan Awaits" , a faraway destination where there are subtle, sunny psychedelic reminders of Pompeii perhaps at the beginning , but then swerve into experimental oddity halfway through , only to rekindle the soft brightness as 'the dying sun has shone on you now', as the guitar lights up the darkening horizon.

"A Stitch in Time" is the owner of a magnificent flute refrain, adorned with sitar-like Taj Mahalian sounds, followed by a soprano synth ripple, and that tight beat keeping the heart pumping. The vocal recalls the early motif and instills a mesmerizing phrasing that edges on euphoria. Companion piece "Lost Karma" is again drenched in gorgeous melody, once again conducted by the magical flute (an instrument rarely if ever displayed by the Meddlers, who had a marked preference for the saxophone, me thinks).

"Don Quixote" is the master blaster epic on this release, clocking in over a dozen minutes, and pretty much serves to sum up all the inherent qualities of Rick Miller's music: the swooping sounds, the crystal-clear sound, the moody atmospherics, the slick flute and cello work, the sizzling guitar expressions and the rather expected Spanish guitar flourishes that seek to evoke the 'famed' windmill threat. Musical story telling at its most suggestive, with segments that clearly go beyond the frivolous and boring. The extended lead guitar solo is quite an achievement, sonic pirouettes laden with emotion and despair. To have the class of following up with acoustic guitar, percussion and cello to settle the warm Andalusian sun, well, its darn near perfect.

A reprise of the glorious first track puts the "Old Souls' to bed. The defense (the music) has spoken and now rests.

Finally, Mister Waters, in response to your incessant interference, I must state that you have made your "Money" and you are, without any known competition, the greatest political activist, narcissist millionaire and grumpy old man on social media (by your own words). You should be honored and humbled that, at least for musicians world- wide of all ages, your MUSIC remains a source of inspiration and creativity. As Pink Floyd, of course. But let's face it, Rick Miller has provided more PF music in terms of hours and minutes than you ever did in the same period of time, so please, just suck it up.

The VERDICT: NON COUPABLE (the Box's ''L'Affaire Dumoutier'' playing in the background)

4.5 Ancient spirits

 Unstuck in Time by MILLER, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.89 | 27 ratings

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Unstuck in Time
Rick Miller Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Canadian singer and multi-instrumentalist Rick Miller has been incredibly active since the release of his second album 'Interstellar Passage' in 2000, and 'Unstuck In Time' is his fifteenth, released at the end of 2020. The album title itself is taken from Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse Five' and is the inspiration for the title track (which closes the album and is more than 11 minutes in length). Rick tends to stay with the same musicians, and this album contains the same line-up as 'Belief In The Machine', apart from the return of long-time collaborator Kane Miller who was not involved with the last release. This means Ricks is joined again by Sarah Young (flute), Mateusz Swoboda (cello), Barry Haggarty (guitar), Kane Miller (guitar, violin) and Will (drums, percussion).

Rick is one of a very few progressive musicians whose music is instantly identifiable and not really like anyone else. His albums are always intensely atmospheric, with artwork and themes which are related to that. When listening to his albums I find myself drifting into a different world where the only items that exist are the music and his vocals. He sings in a way where there is no stress or strain, lulling in the listener, and one feels like we are drifting through an environment on a feather, being allowed glimpses into some magical places. There are times when he allows the guitar to cut through, but for the most part this is a journey where the layered arrangement is everything.

For some reason Rick has kept below the parapet of prog yet he keeps releasing incredibly consistent albums which are always thoroughly enjoyable, and the listener feels enriched having heard them. This is the ninth release of his I have been fortunate to hear, and all I can say is that if you have yet to come across the world of Rick Miller then you owe it to your ears to do so. Play this on headphones and fall into his universe.

 Old Souls by MILLER, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.72 | 21 ratings

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Old Souls
Rick Miller Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars Rick MILLER began his musical research in 1984, putting on albums to reach his 16th at the start of the year. Rick is moving further and further away from his idols PINK FLOYD and GENESIS with their guitarist Steve Hackett to offer a sound with a refined character. Dark, melancholic, borderline new age atmospheric rock for a return to his original love; in short, real progressive rock without frills with its breaks to melt the strongest of the Ameridians.

'Time's Way' or melodic rock with its progressive declination; a nice intro, a rhythm in ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST for Kane's languorous guitar solo I suppose. 'Guinevere' bucolic title with hoofbeat, a spleen violin and it unrolls slowly. 'Haunt Me' just for the elaborate, nostalgic, meditative intro; always very melodic, Rick's soft voice, his guitar playing which transcends each piece. 'Virgin Rebirth' roaring intro, majestic and dark Kane's violin then the colorful synth that fills the room on a typed new wave 80 sound; final much calmer, hovering in decrescendo on a roll of waves and it continues with 'The Red Sky' where Mateusz's cello works wonders taking us to arid lands where depression becomes beauty; an oriental arpeggio disturbs otherwise it is a facsimile for the rest.

'Ixtlan Awaits' to a new age tune, you know ENYA; then we are on ALAN PARSONS with a solo of its own, grandiloquent, enlightened and luminous; space break inspired then final pop 60-70. 'A Stitch in Time' with again a Persian connotation where the flutes of Sarah and Jaye work wonders, the most beautiful piece with these celestial choirs. 'Lost Karma' continues with this atmosphere, flute and acoustic guitar arpeggio in medieval sequence. 'Don Quixote' and the river title that goes on a repetition; it was not without knowing the bugger who offers singular, stratospheric variations; one of the station wagons perfectly symbolizes the noise of the title hero's windmills and his disturbed thinking; final on a PINK FLOYD between 'On The Turning Away' and 'Animals' and the acoustic guitar. 'Time's Way (reprise)' at the end to make you want to listen to the first title again.

Rick MILLER releases albums frantically. He has an asset with his precise compositions to make you melt. He produces an album agreed at the start which is magnified over the listenings offering a hovering and languorous rock pop sound. For those who don't know yet it's just dantesque in the genre; for the others a good album a little more diversified than the last two. In short, it may seem conventional but it is very well done.

 Unstuck in Time by MILLER, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.89 | 27 ratings

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Unstuck in Time
Rick Miller Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

3 stars Rick Miller is a prolific musician who has been on a series of releases since 2000 when he debuted in 84 with the release of his first album. If I tell you Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons Project, Moody Blues or Genesis you will quickly understand where it will take you for this 15th opus, in atmospheric progressive rock, dark, melancholic, melodic progressive rock; Rick is the first to say that there is little room for jazz fusion, hey that's gonna change me! or for the energetic metal-prog sounds. Also note that this is his second album in 2020 with a track with a targeted reference to covid and you will understand that he actually has more time to compose. Let's go to this melodic monolithic universe.

"The Plague" begins on an ersatz made in the sauce of the day of the PINK FLOYD era Gilmour and "a momentary", Gregorian break, elastic atmosphere and prog drawers that follow interspersed with his suave voice. "State of Emergency" same vein with a higher tone, then similar melodic line. "Covid Concerto" on a synthetic intro that reminds me of The Cars, well in the mood of the 80's! Snubbing your nose at this virus that is spoiling our lives a bit? Compo in the tradition of an Alan Parsons instrumental. "Fateful Apparitions" on a much more complex track, ambient, intimate, dark, scary, Pink Floyd or psychedelic RPWL, interesting because it breaks the lineage of the tracks a bit. "La Causa" to a flamenco, dancing, airy and dynamic tune that awakens your old bones and brightens our ears. "Lost Continuum" and the intro that bathes you in the Moody Blues, even more on the first King Crimson, a flute, bordering on Arabizing the violin, more aerial, almost religious end on distant mantras. "In Sync with the System" starts there on Barclay James Harvest, more sung and rhythmic track, it's calm, the 80's synth break shows a bit here. "Broken Clocks" on a very short track in the same vein without the breaks that maybe go better! "Unstuck in Time" and the flagship title with drawers to start from here and there, a beautiful title but still with an air of déjà-vu and Barry's solos which raise in emotion. Rick Miller released an album in line with the second to last, which sounded a bit like the one before; it's good and you will find all the ingredients that once made people tick; but perhaps too much has happened here by dint of putting on a diaper as beautiful as it is, you may find the repetition a little too obvious. That's good but yes there is a but, it's a nice facsimile of his previous albums without much innovation here. Too bad for someone who follows him, pleasant surprise for someone who does not yet know

 Unstuck in Time by MILLER, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.89 | 27 ratings

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Unstuck in Time
Rick Miller Crossover Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

4 stars We find here several ingredients already present in the previous Miller's effort "Belief in the Machine", like a certain "floydianesque" atmosphere (impossible to let go without notice), the pleasant (yet short ranged) voice of Rick, flute and chello contributing exotic ambiance based on modal harmonies, and, of course, Barry Haggarty's guitar.

That is good, but it's not all. In addition, we have choral arrangements in a "gregorian chant like" sort of style, making for the obscure & medieval side of the mood. If you were on a DeLorean equiped with "flux capacitor", you'd read 1348 on the red display.

Anyway, there's also some kraut-rock styled synthesizers contributing to a healthy variety of influences, and probably the best part is the broadening of Haggarty's electric sound beyond the strictly Gilmour-likeness, reshaping himself with a much more acute, poignant tone, which fits perfectly the pathos pervading the grand finale.

This is not going to change your perception of the world and the music, but it's a great album.

 Belief in the Machine by MILLER, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.90 | 87 ratings

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Belief in the Machine
Rick Miller Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Canadian Rick Miller is back with his fourteenth album, two years after 'Delusional'. This is very much a continuation of the change in style he has been working on recently where there is much more of a rock element within his music, and his band is the same as the last album apart from this time around only Barry Haggarty provides guitar, as Kane Miller is no longer involved. Given Kane has been a mainstay since Rick's fourth album, 2004's 'Dreamtigers', that is quite a shift. But Haggarty's relationship with Rick goes back even further, while flautist Sarah Young has also been involved for more than 15 years. Both drummer Will and cellist Mateusz Swoboda also have a long history with Rick, who describes this album as being "in the genre of what I would call Progressive Rock. That term defining the type of music that was made famous throughout the 70's by bands such as Genesis, The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd."

To be honest, that is a pretty good description, Rick (who provides vocals and all other instrumentation) used to be thought of as more dreamscape and cinematic, yet while there are still huge Pink Floyd influences within this, there is also plenty of the more dreamy Eighties The Moody Blues. It is an incredibly easy album to listen to, with strong guitars throughout which provide a welcome edge as only a Stratocaster can do, but this contrasts against the rest of the music which is far more sedate and relaxed.

This is the eighth release I have reviewed from Rick over the years, and I am surprised he isn't more widely known as he continues to deliver album after album of great progressive rock music in a more relaxed tone, and is someone I enjoy hearing each and every time. Just seeing the name Rick Miller on a CD makes me know that here is something of quality, and it is not often that can be said these days. I have never given Rick a poor review (I really ought to seek out the early albums at some point), and there isn't going to be any change this time, as this is yet another superb relaxed album from a wonderful musician and arranger. He provides great songs, knows exactly the vocal style it needs, and brings it all together each and every time. Superb.

 Belief in the Machine by MILLER, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.90 | 87 ratings

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Belief in the Machine
Rick Miller Crossover Prog

Review by progpositivity
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Almost everything about this album reminds me of Pink Floyd's output from the 1970's and later.

1) There is a very smoothly spacey and atmospheric layer of keyboards throughout. 2) Keyboard leads are very similar to those heard on Floyd's classic album "Wish You Were Here". 3) Most of the electric guitar leads sing and soar expressively in the style of David Gilmore. 4) Even the lead vocals are lushly understated with a timbre surprisingly similar to that of David Gilmore. 5) There is a certain melancholy vibe which resides in a moody territory close to that of classic Pink Floyd

This music has some differences from Pink Floyd that are worth noting.

1) Spoken word passages will call to mind memories of The Moody Blues. 2) Some of the passages which feature flute performances by Sarah Young may evoke memories of The Moody Blues or Camel (but not Jethro Tull IMO). 3) On this album, Rick does a better job of presenting a coherent story line for this concept album than Pink Floyd ever did. 4) Despite a similar melancholy vibe shared with Pink Floyd, this music from Rick Miller feels more fueled by a social stance which believes that a "better fate" can be achieved if citizens heed warnings from artistic works which explore depictions of oppression resulting from misunderstandings of and mistreatment of non-conformity. (In contrast, Pink Floyd's music sometimes depicts struggles with undercurrents of sarcasm, bitterness, fear, hopelessness, self-loathing and insanity.) Thus, this album, while weighty in subject matter and stylistically similar to Pink Floyd, is more likely to leave you with a smile on your face and hope in your heart than a replay of DSotM or WYWH.

This album is very well produced and mixed. The instrumental performances are delivered effectively.

That said, listening to this album felt more like a tour of a very "well trodden" classic prog pathway than it did an exploration of anything very new or different.

 Belief in the Machine by MILLER, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.90 | 87 ratings

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Belief in the Machine
Rick Miller Crossover Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The endless enigma (hello ELP) of progressive rock continues to prove itself as a valid reality, the sheer size of its history and ongoing legacy remain astounding. Even after 50 years , I still unearth hidden jewels that I kick myself for not picking up on earlier, but I understand that this is what happens when you have a global phenomenon that will forever offer new discoveries. Such is the case with Canadian composer and multi-instrumentalist Rick Miller, who has created 14 releases since 1984, the first 2 being more electronic relaxation music but veering fully into prog with ''Dreamtigers'' back in 2004. Ever since then, Rick has been pumping out albums at a steady pace (average every second year), using the same seasoned crew, namely one of Canada's top session guitarists in Barry Haggerty , Sarah Young on flute , cellist Mateusz Swoboda and his friend Will on drums. His style of choice happens to mirror mine: a romantic, emotional, heart-felt melancholic, cinematographic soundtrack that can be dark, brooding, haunting and focused on powerful melodies that seep into the spirit and conjure deep images. Having seen the glowing reviews on PA, I took the jump to read some of them and I realized I had been missing out on something right down my alley (the power of reviews from trusted sources). I recently purchased his latest ''Belief in the Machine'' and I am red-faced with shame, as this is quite the find, being exactly the type of prog I have always adored and continue to do so to this day.

The artwork for his albums is quite evocative and this one is no exception, as it mirrors the fabulous music inside, Rick showing no mufty-flufty tendency to gently entice, going straight for the jugular with the epic 11 and half minute opener ''Correct to the Core'' which lays out all the characteristics of his musical style: a somber cello slithering into the soul, Floydian textures that seek to haunt (namely vocal sound effects), a forlorn bass rumble and Gilmourian flourishes , all coalescing into a hard binary beat and an explosive and mesmerizing guitar rant. Rick's hushed voice takes centerstage, crafting the savvy melody that will guide this track through multiple developments, piano leading the way, bass following obediently behind. Clever lyrics parallel the crafty arrangements, everyone getting to solo: guitar, cello and flute, a perfect 'mise en place' that sets that table for the amazing ride this album is.

A trio of shorter pieces seek to expand the sonic palette , first up the flute-driven gorgeousness of ''That Inward Eye pt1'' which has a melody that is irreproachably magnificent , then the brief title track, a straightforward , guitar-fed rocker with a simple gait and ended by ''The Land and the Sea' , a brooding , percussive setting that serves , in my opinion, to set up the masterpiece track, the devastating and immediate classic prog of ''The Need to Believe'', a hybrid mix of Pink Floyd and Moody Blues , owner of a crushingly evocative melody that with bring tears of happiness to the romantic-inclined progger, armed with a Barry Haggerty Stratocaster foray of the finest vintage and a chorus to match: celestial, searing, hopeful, melancholic and downright beautiful.

From this moment on, the experimental side takes over, offering up cinematographic instrumental mind music of the highest order, with electronic piano a la 'No Quarter', cello, vaporous synth clouds and the subtle yet pervasive guitar interference , all displayed on ''Prelude to the Trial'' . Another instrumental piece ''Binary Breakdown'' is in contrast wilder and more energetic, adorned with swirling rhythms, cello blasts, looping bass, hard drums, slippery synths and echoing guitar flashes that finally evolves into a glittering axe solo. The melodic content is clearly defined and not a random jam, full of noodles. ''That Inward Eye Pt2 '' reprises the earlier flute melody, a welcome return to pastoral heaven, as cello, string synths and a sweet vocal all merge to create quite the melancholic feel. The choir effects are splendidly detailed, a gentle slice of symphonic beauty.

The angst-laden gloom of 'Media Gods (including the Awakening)' starts out as a symphonic holocaust of gothic choir, devilish flute and cello spurts , synthesized swirls and then an acoustic guitar introduces an atmospheric expanse , the Sarah Young flute nearby as an enthusiastic ally, and excellent intro into the final epic piece, the 10 minute 'The Trial' which elevates the proceedings to exhilarating heights as it spans the spectrum, from gentle to exacerbated, in dealing with creepy lyrics involving paranoia (as per the spoken words), as the puerile piano ambles, the orchestral melodies colliding with more poignant fervour, laden with electronic effects as the harsh beat kicks in, relentless. The vocals return, guitar twirling in a frenzy, with a choir melancholy that really hits the spot, as the attention to detail create levels of enjoyment that keeps the listener on its ears (or toes!).

This album has been a truly gratifying experience, chock full of amazingly crafted melodies, a perfect introduction to a musician I fully intend to help complete my collection, as this is right down my alley. I have already ordered his Falling Through Rainbows release from 2009, which I must say is just as enjoyable. As it stands, this is my favourite 2020 album up to now and I just cannot wait to hear more from my fellow Canadian! Rick Miller needs to be appreciated by a much wider audience.

4.5 System credos

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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