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UNICORN

Neo-Prog • Sweden


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Unicorn biography
UNICORN is a neo-progressive rock band originating from Örebro, Sweden. UNICORN is one of the many projects fronted by influential Swedish musician Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale, Bloodbath, Pan.Thy.Monium, Karaboudjan, etc). The band was formed in 1988 by Anders Mareby on guitars, Peter Edwinzon on Keyboards, and Dan Swanö on vocals and drums. UNICORN had multiple changes in bass players (Tom Nouga, Per Runesson, and even Peter Edwinzon and Dan Swanö).

UNICORN released 4 demos from 1988-1992, all of which are exceptional in terms of quality. If you are to get one demo from this band, I recommend getting The Weirdest of Tales. It's really a great example of Swedish neo-prog. After the 4 demos (A Collection of Worlds Pt. 1, A Collection of Worlds Pt. 2, The Weirdest of Tales, and After Before), UNICORN released their debut album, Ever Since, in 1993. This album is their definitive release, and is highly recommended to any fan of Dan Swanö, or 80's and 90's neo-prog in general.

The band's second full-length album, Emotional Wasteland shows a much more mature band. The band advanced in terms of production qualities and lyrics, as well as creating some more high-quality neo-prog. If you consider yourself a fan of bands like MARILLION, ARENA, and IQ, UNICORN is a band you should check out for sure! There albums can be hard to find, but if you want to hear some beautiful music, look no further than UNICORN!

-Written by J-Man (Jeff)

See also:

- Another Life
- Dan Swäno
- Edge of Sanity
- Godsend
- Karaboudjan
- Nightingale
- Odyssey
- Pan....
Another Life
- Dan Swäno
- Edge of Sanity
- Godsend
- Karaboudjan
- Nightingale
- Odyssey
- Pan.Thy.Monium
- Route Nineread more

Unicorn official website

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Buy UNICORN Music


Best Of UnicornBest Of Unicorn
Import
See for Miles UK 2001
Audio CD$39.99
$29.98 (used)
Too Many CrooksToo Many Crooks
Remastered
Renaissance Records 2009
Audio CD$13.13
$81.04 (used)
UNICORN - [UNICORN PLUS THE BRAND NEW LABEL] 2nd Mini Album CD+Photo Book K-POP SealedUNICORN - [UNICORN PLUS THE BRAND NEW LABEL] 2nd Mini Album CD+Photo Book K-POP Sealed
LOEN Entertainment
Audio CD$19.99
FEEL SO MOON(+DVD+BOOKLET)(ltd.)FEEL SO MOON(+DVD+BOOKLET)(ltd.)
SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT JAPAN
Audio CD$17.58
$4.89 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Unicorn DKP 9006 Bliss Piano Concerto Philip Fowke [1981] NEAR MINT Holland USD $13.19 Buy It Now 19m 39s
Unicorn KPM 7014 Richard Baker's Musical Menagerie [1982] NM/EX USD $13.19 Buy It Now 24m 30s
TWILIGHT OF THE GODS Opera LP RARE UK UNICORN RECORDS USD $14.97 Buy It Now 30m 58s
Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn CD LIKE NEW BR747 USD $7.99 Buy It Now 38m 57s
Unicorn DKP 9027 Oliver Knussen Symphony no. 2 etc [1984] NM/EX + insert USD $13.19 Buy It Now 52m 50s
Unicorn RHS 339 Contrasts In Brass Locke Brass Consort [1976] NEAR MINT USD $13.19 Buy It Now 57m 1s
Unicorn RHS 307 Peter Maxwell Davies The Fires Of London [1970] NEAR MINT USD $26.41 Buy It Now 1h
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Unicorn UNS 201 Scandinavian String Music Little Orchestra London [1969] EX/NM USD $13.19 Buy It Now 1h 23m
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Unicorn UNS 227 John Field Piano Concerto Felicja Blumenthal [1970] NEAR MINT USD $13.19 Buy It Now 1h 39m
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UNICORN RHS312 HORENSTEIN Strauss Tod Und Verklarung/Hindemith Mathis Mahler LP USD $8.27 Buy It Now 1h 51m
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Chominciamento Di Gioia - Vienna Unicorn Ensemble (CD Used Very Good) USD $9.51 Buy It Now 9h 5m
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Unicorn RHS 318 The Versatility Of The Scholars Volume 2 [1973] NEAR MINT USD $13.19 Buy It Now 1 day
Unicorn UNS 248 Bach Magnificat in D Ian Partridge / Steinitz [1977] NEAR MINT USD $13.19 Buy It Now 1 day
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Unicorn KPM 7003 Nielsen Symphony no. 3 Ole Schmidt LSO [1974] NEAR MINT Holland USD $13.19 Buy It Now 1 day
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UNICORN discography


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

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

3.13 | 14 ratings
Ever Since
1993
2.81 | 19 ratings
Emotional Wasteland
1995

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

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

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

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

3.02 | 3 ratings
A Collection of Worlds, Part I
1988
3.50 | 2 ratings
A Collection of Worlds, Part II
1989
3.50 | 2 ratings
The Weirdest of Tales
1991
2.51 | 3 ratings
After Before
1992

UNICORN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 After Before by UNICORN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1992
2.51 | 3 ratings

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After Before
Unicorn Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars While ''The weirdest of tales'' became a sell-out, Unicorn were put on ice, as Anders Mareby moved to another city and Per Runesson was going to fulfill his military service.After months of inactivity they came back together, but this time without Per, who was dedicated to other commitments.Bass duties were handed to Peter Edwinzon and for the first time Unicorn operated as a trio, recording and releasing their fourth cassette ''After before'' in 1992.

Anyone having listened to Unicorn's first few cassettes will define a certain turn in the sound of the band.Like a musical Benjamin Button they appear to go back in time and, instead becoming heavier and more modern with each release, ''After before'' resembles more than ever to 80's Neo Prog, as performed by the British bands of the time.Do not expect a work of mellow sounds, it's just that Unicorn sound a bit more melodic and less rhythmic on this effort, somewhat losing part of their identity.Acts like JADIS, THIRD QUADRANT and COLTSFOOT are the most appropriate comparisons, Unicorn proposed a highly atmospheric Progressive Rock with a certain lyricism and occasional synth blows over the melodic and slightly distorted guitars.I am a bit dissapointed, seeing them a bit confused on whether to move on or get a bit closer to the retro prog stylings (one track even features some organ parts!), but the material is very good and satisfying with the trademark vocals of Swano and the music being always competent and interesting.The 7-min. long title-track with its half-MARILLION, half-PINK FLOYD influences and the ''The likes of noone'' with its great keyboard sounds is the pair of tracks shining through.

Yet another undergroung goodie by Unicorn.Their most 80's-styled work of all their cassette albums/demos, will be an instant favorite for all those in love with this particular period of Prog music.Recommended.

 The Weirdest of Tales by UNICORN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1991
3.50 | 2 ratings

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The Weirdest of Tales
Unicorn Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars In early-90's Dan Swano was deeply involed in the Death Metal scene, however this didn't slow down his work with his beloved Unicorn.In fact the band recorded another demo release in 1991, despite the dissapointment of not conveincing any record label for a contract, this was the last with the classic line-up, and it was more of a professional work, having a full-color printed cover.Its title was ''The Weirdest of Tales''.

This new demo actually continues from where ''A Collection of Worlds 2'' stopped.Grandiose still easy-listening Neo Prog-like musicianship with very energetic arrangements and accesible song structures.The guitar work of Anders Mareby remains the highlight of the band, melodic, edgy, rhythmic and deeply atmospheric at moments.The choruses are very memorable, while Swano's voice remains an acquired taste, though it often seems perfect for the overall atmosphere Unicorn created.Pianos and keyboards are still in the menu, but as with almost any Unicorn album, they do not have a basic role, but you can expect some nice flashes here and there.Very solid release, which however lacks the more powerful instrumental sections of the previous demo.

This demo was sold out pretty fast and I can see the reason why.Dynamic, catchy and highly atmospheric Neo Prog deserves some exposure and Unicorn were definitely among the representatives of the style.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 A Collection of Worlds, Part II by UNICORN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
3.50 | 2 ratings

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A Collection of Worlds, Part II
Unicorn Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars In 1989 Unicorn recorded a second demo entitled "Tunes for the stork", but the idea of releasing it was abandoned due to its bad sound.Finally the second demo was released the same year simply as ''A Collection of Worlds Part II''.Moreover, by the time Dan Swano had already started the story of Death Metal act Edge of Sanity and had spread many Unicorn flyers to lots of people interested in the newborn Edge of Sanity to promote his prog band.

Unicorn matured surprisingly fast over the year and the new demo finds them leaving almost all Melodic Rock hints behind and focusing on writing more demanding Neo Prog material with clever instrumental parts but also an accesible face.The excellent and memorable ''Times of Change'' from the debut was also re-included in this demo.The rest of the tracks are also dominated by fantastic vocal arrangements, catchy grooves, great guitar work and plenty of piano paces along with the digital keyboards.What though pushes the band to the next level is the presence of demanding instrumental sections between the more easy-listening passages with numerous sudden breaks and the more evident presence of light symphonic passages here and there like on the beautiful ''Lake of time'' and its flute-driven section.More importantly the album has a very positive energy coming out of these nice and dynamic pieces, which is easy to set the listener in a good mood.

Fantastic follow-up to the first demo, which finds the band more focused, more experienced and more inspired.First class Neo Prog and both enjoyable as well as historical release for anyone interested, though to track down a physical copy must be quite a difficult achievement.

 A Collection of Worlds, Part I by UNICORN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1988
3.02 | 3 ratings

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A Collection of Worlds, Part I
Unicorn Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Cult progressive rock band from Örebro,Sweden, featuring a young Dan Swano,known for his works in the heavy/death metal field,most notably with Edge of Sanity and Nightingale.Swano along with guitarist Anders Mareby were in the band Ghost from mid-80's,joined later by bassist Per Runesson.With the addition of singer Björn Eriksson and keyboardist Peter Edwinzon they became Icarus,but soon Eriksson left due to style disagreements.The quartet was renamed to Unicorn by 1987 and released a cassette in 1988 entitled ''A Collection of Worlds'' with Swano on vocals and drums.

It is hard to believe that this is a dedicated metal-head like Dan guiding this band,as the sound is pretty easy-going Progressive Rock,based on elaborate melodies and deep atmospheres.The overall style is pretty much in the vein of the early-80's British prog bands,mainly I find similarities with TWELFTH NIGHT and COMEDY OF ERRORS.Swano's voice is actually quite good for the style,which is based on some careful and dreamy keyboard themes,the strong guitar work with the fine soloing throughout and the easily accesible song structures.A couple of the pieces presented have a strong yet well-hidden GENESIS influence like the fabulous, almost symphonic ''Times Of Change'' or the romantic ''Mr K Just Left The Circus'',while a few others contain signs of Melodic Rock/AOR,''Fly eagle fly'' being one of them and also count in the excellent ballad ''Dreamland''.The memorable choruses and well-crafted arrangements indicate that these teenagers had some great talent to present.

Some nice work by Swano and his fellows on this rare demo release.''A Collection of Worlds'' is on par with the most of the Neo Prog characteristics and fans of the style will find this effort trully attractive.But I would even recommend this work to die-hard metallers in order to seek Dan Swano's music roots.

 After Before by UNICORN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1992
2.51 | 3 ratings

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After Before
Unicorn Neo-Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The Weakest Unicorn Release

For those of you who read my reviews and/or know me well for the forums, you would probably know that I have a bit of a soft spot for the music of Swedish neo-prog band Unicorn. I always love their heartfelt and sincere compositions, and even though their releases always have a fair share of flaws, I consider myself a fan of this product of Dan Swanö, Peter Edwinzon, and Anders Mareby. On their fourth, and final, demo - 1992's After Before - I am pretty disappointed, however. This is the weakest Unicorn release for various reasons that are exclusive to this demo only.

First of all, After Before contains material that would all be soon released on full-length Unicorn albums. This will probably significantly lower the appeal of this demo to most people, especially considering that the album versions of these five tracks are significantly better than these demos. There are a few cases with Unicorn's music where I actually prefer the demo to the album release, but that isn't the case with any of the songs on After Before. Many of them sound underdeveloped and have rather flawed arrangements, both of which were improved on the final versions. For that reason alone, After Before can really only be regarded as a collector's item. It's a pretty good collector's item at that, but it is nonetheless completely non-essential.

Another major issue with this demo is Dan's vocals. I would say that they sound rather weak on this demo, which is odd since he usually has a fantastic voice. It often sounds strained and out of his normal range. This is another problem that was mostly fixed on the album versions. His voice on the previous three demos (The Weirdest of Tales in particularly) is far superior to this demo.

As I mentioned, I have a bit of a problem with Dan Swanö's voice on this demo, but the musicianship is otherwise pretty good. Dan's drumming sounds much tighter, precise, and professional on this demo, which is of course a good thing. Anders Mareby isn't given as many killer solos on this demo (if you want to hear him do some fantastic solos, get The Weirdest of Tales). He still does a great job, as usual, but I don't think that this is quite his best. The same goes with Peter Edwinzon. He does a really great job, but I think that he has done better on previous demos and future albums. I also miss some of the keyboard tones on the earlier demos. I know that they can sound cheesy at times, but it gave Unicorn some of their charm in my opinion.

The production is largely an improvement over the previous demos. It sounds more professional to these ears. I actually prefer the productions of the early demos, though. Even though most audiophiles won't be able to tolerate the amateurish mixing of their first three demos, I personally think it gave Unicorn some of their appeal.

After Before consists of five tracks, which adds up to almost a half-hour in length. As I've mentioned earlier, all five of these tracks can be found on Unicorn's future albums, which I highly recommend hearing. My favorite tracks are When The World Came Watching and After Before. None of the other tracks are bad, though some of them are a bit hit-and-miss. Especially the opening track, Liquefy. It has some really fantastic moments, but it has a few poor transitions that really lower my overall enjoyment of the song.

Conclusion:

After Before is the weakest Unicorn demo by far, and I can't give it more than 2 stars. This is really only for Unicorn fans (like myself), and even then you're not guaranteed to be impressed. Despite my complaining, After Before still isn't a terrible demo. I've heard so many disastrous demos from various bands, and this one is quite good by comparison. If you're a fan of Unicorn, this is worth getting. After all, it's available for free.

2 stars.

 The Weirdest of Tales by UNICORN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1991
3.50 | 2 ratings

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The Weirdest of Tales
Unicorn Neo-Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Definitive Unicorn Demo

The third demo from Swedish neo-prog band Unicorn, The Weirdest of Tales, is possibly my favorite release from the band. On The Weirdest of Tales the band kept the undeniable charm of their first two releases, but brought their style to a more mature and developed sound. For this reason, this demo stands as a highlight in their discography.

Unicorn has always been an interesting band for me. Despite the fact that they follow all of the neo-prog clichés and formulas, something about their music has always captivated and entertained me. The superb musicianship along with the charming and upbeat songwriting works perfectly in Unicorn's music. Whenever I'm in a bad mood, I will always put Unicorn on. The uplifting music and lyrics (even if the lyrical aspect can be a bit cheesy) always will put me in a good mood.

As I mentioned previously, the musicianship is great on this demo. Dan Swanö delivers a really solid vocal performance throughout this demo. I think this is Unicorn's finest moment vocally. His drumming is pretty good as well. I don't think Swanö is the best drummer in the world, but his style fits this type of neo-prog perfectly. Peter Edwinzon does a great job on keyboards as always. He is just such an underrated keyboard player. I think that this demo is focused much more on Anders Mareby's guitar solos than any other Unicorn releases. He really shows his chops on The Weirdest of Tales. The bas playing gets the job done, but it's nothing too spectacular. I believe than Per Runesson played bass on this demo, but I'm unsure. There is only minimal information about the lineups of each Unicorn demo.

Another great thing about this demo is the compositional quality. Every song is really great and memorable on The Weirdest of Tales. All six songs have something spectacular about them. It'd be tough for me to pick a favorite song, but there are some standout moments on the album. The opening track, Your Last Denial, has excellent guitar solos from Anders Mareby, as well as a wonderfully crafted saxophone solo played by Dan Swanö (the sax part may be played by Tom Nouga, but I'm unsure. As I mentioned earlier, there is minimal information online about the lineups of Unicorn demos).

Tunes For The Stork is another highlight, and it's probably the best track on the demo. It amazes me that such a spectacular song never made any of the Unicorn full-length albums. Actually, the only songs that made it onto Ever Since are Messenger and Zoetrope. As I mentioned, every song is great on this demo. Every song is a superb example of Swedish neo-progressive rock.

The only real knock that I can give this demo is the production. It sounds very dated and amateurish, but it fits the music well nonetheless. It sounds rather cheap at times, but it's an acquired taste. I personally think that the production gives this demo some of its charm.

Conclusion:

The Weirdest of Tales is an excellent demo by Unicorn, and well worthy of the 4 star rating. This demo always excites me, and I think that this may be Unicorn's best release. This is essential for any neo-prog fan. It's such a shame that this band gets so little attention. They really deserve some recognition for such great music.

4 stars.

 A Collection of Worlds, Part II by UNICORN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
3.50 | 2 ratings

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A Collection of Worlds, Part II
Unicorn Neo-Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A Great Follow-Up to a Promising Debut

The second demo from Unicorn called A Collection of Worlds, Part II is a successful follow-up to their promising debut A Collection of Worlds, Part I. This demo shows a slightly more mature band, but it wasn't until The Weirdest of Tales that Unicorn sounded like a fully grown band. Yet something about Unicorn's first two demos has always charmed me.

The musical style that is played here is very similar to their first demo. Melodic neo-prog in the vein of Marillion. I wouldn't call this demo (or anything Unicorn has ever done) particularly innovative, but their music is entertaining, heartfelt and sincere, so I quite enjoy it. A Collection of Worlds, Part II is probably my least favorite Unicorn demo, though. This one just isn't quite as consistent as the others. This is still a great demo anyway, especially considering that it's legally available for free on a blog (from Dan Swanö). If you're a fan of neo-prog, Unicorn's demos (and albums) have a certain charm that can't be found too often.

As I mentioned in my review of A Collection of Worlds, Part I, the musicianship is pretty great. They never have any show-off solos, but they really show their chops. Peter Edwinzon is really the highlight of Unicorn for me. His keyboard playing is just beautiful, and I think his melodic style fits this type of neo-prog perfectly. Anders Mareby is also a pretty great guitarist, but this demo is mostly focused on keyboards. If you want to hear Anders have some really great moments, get The Weirdest of Tales and Ever Since. Dan Swanö also does a great job. His compositions are unbeatable, and his voice is pretty good here. For some reason his voice sounds better on this demo than it does on the previous one. The bass playing from Per Runesson (I believe he played bass on this demo, but I could be wrong) is pretty average. He doesn't really do anything great on this demo, but it could partially be because the bass is rather inaudible. The production quality of this demo isn't really terrible, but it's substantially below average.

A Collection of Worlds, Part II is rather long for a demo. This clocks in at almost 40 minutes, so it can easily be called an album (even if it's not officially one). This consists of 9 tracks, though the outro isn't really a song of any sort. This demo is filled with quality moments, even if some of the melodies are forgettable.

My favorite track from A Collection of Worlds, Part II is probably the opener, The Czarina of Vermillion. I actually prefer the version on this demo to the version on the album Ever Since. The liberal use of flute really adds a nice touch to that song. Times of Change is another great song that also made their debut album. In this case, however, I prefer the more polished version on the album. The short, yet complex Yellow and Greg is another favorite of mine. Peter Edwinzon does a great job on this song. Visage and The Dumb are the two longest tracks, and also some of my favorites. Tears of Joy is a nice closing song as well.

Conclusion:

A Collection of Worlds, Part II is another solid demo from Unicorn. Despite the fact that this is not my favorite Unicorn demo, it still deserves a 3 star rating. It's not the biggest 3 in the world, but I can't give this any less. Despite its various flaws in production and a few weak melodies, this is still a great demo. I know I've said it many times, but something about this band has always charmed me. This is really sincere music, I really respect the emotion behind their demos and albums. Dan Swanö has created better music in his career, but I find Unicorn to have his most heartfelt compositions. This is highly recommendable to fans of neo-prog.

3 stars.

 A Collection of Worlds, Part I by UNICORN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1988
3.02 | 3 ratings

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A Collection of Worlds, Part I
Unicorn Neo-Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

3 stars What A Great First Demo!

The first demo from Swedish neo-prog band Unicorn is some of the earliest music Dan Swanö has ever participated in, and even at this young age he managed to create some great music! The heart of Unicorn was always Dan Swanö, Peter Edwinzon, and Anders Mareby. Their bass player on this demo (I believe it's Per Runesson), was soon replaced by Dan's brother Tom Nouga (except on the After Before demo, where Peter Edwinzon played bass).

The music played on A Collection of Worlds, Part I is neo-prog in the vein of Marillion. While Unicorn's music never did anything to push the boundaries of progressive rock, I always find something about their music to be rather charming. Heartfelt and sincere music always comes from their demos and albums, and I think that's why I can often excuse the flaws in their releases. The production quality of this demo is rather poor, Dan's voice wasn't really perfected yet, and some of the arrangements aren't fully matured, but somehow none of those things ever severely affect my listening experiences with this demo.

Part of the reasons why this demo is so enjoyable is the high-quality musicianship. Peter Edwinzon is one great keyboard player, and he really delivers the music powerfully and dynamically. His playing isn't as great as it was on future releases, but he still shows his chops on this debut demo. Anders Mareby is also a very talented guitarist. His melodic playing style fits the neo-prog genre perfectly (similarly to Steve Rothery). Of course Dan Swanö also does a fantastic job, mostly through his compositional talents. His voice is a little underdeveloped in some parts, but he gets the job done.

A Collection of Worlds, Part I consists of 7 tracks, but only 6 can only really be called songs. The final track is a short, 4 second outro. My favorite song on the demo is the beautiful Dreamland. The keyboards and melodies are just wonderfully crafted. Times of Change is another favorite of mine, but a better version can be found on their debut album. Fly Eagle Fly is a great way to end the demo before the short outro. Every song is memorable though, and I have a tough time finding flaws from the compositional aspect of this demo.

Conclusion:

A Collection of Worlds, Part I is a really enjoyable, if flawed, debut demo from Unicorn. If you can look past the flaws in the production and arrangements of these pieces, you will find some really magical music. My rating will be 3 stars for this demo. After all, it can be found legally (from Dan Swanö) on a blog online for free, so there's no reason not to get it. I would suggest getting The Weirdest of Tales before this one, though. That's a really great demo. Still, this one comes recommended to any fan of quality neo-prog.

3 stars.

 Emotional Wasteland by UNICORN album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.81 | 19 ratings

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Emotional Wasteland
Unicorn Neo-Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Who said death metal?

Dan Swanö is one of the most prolific and important musicians in the Swedish metal world. His multiple projects (Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath, Pan.Thy.Monium, Nightingale, Maceration, etc.) are almost all metal-oriented. With bands like Edge of Sanity, Pan.Thy.Monium, and Nightingale, he's shown his progressive rock influences with the extended song compositions and unique and complex arrangements.

Nightingale was almost pure progressive rock, but it did have an occasional metal riff thrown in there. Unicorn is Swanö's attempt at creating neo prog, and for the most part their second album isn't disappointing. I still have not obtained their debut album, but from what I've heard, this is similar stylistically. It sounds like a blend of Asia and Marillion to these ears. The result is a very poppy take on neo prog. There are a few moments that remind us of the 70's prog rock bands, but the majority of this album is pop rock with some neo prog tendencies. Overall, this is an upbeat and energetic album for the most part.

THE MUSIC:

"Emotional Wasteland"- The first song immediately shows us that this isn't the Dan Swanö we're used to. It's upbeat acoustic guitar riffing with a solo. When the vocals enter it gets softer, and it sounds very radio friendly. The melodies are strong, and the chorus is enjoyable. The outro is great. This is a solid and enjoyable opener.

"At The End of the Bridge"- This opens up with acoustic guitar chords and Dan's vocals. The verse sounds pretty gloomy and depressing, but the chorus is very powerful. This is very straightforward verse-chorus-verse pop rock song, and I think it's one of the weakest on the album, though the chorus is fairly memorable. In comparison to some of the other songs, it is not as good. The ending is solid, though.

"The Boy And The Impossible"- The acoustic opening has a nice vocal melody, but it's fairly forgettable. Suddenly, a more upbeat chord progression enters and a cool synthesizer line enters. The lyrics are pretty poor, but musically this song is awesome. The chorus is catchy and memorable. At the end it reprises the opening with female vocals. The outro reminds me very much of Pink Floyd. The guitar solo at the end has a David Gilmour sound to it.

"Hiding Again"- The album's longest song opens up with piano and vocals. I like the use of flute and cello, and it compliments the other instruments well. It suddenly turns into a very neo prog sounding synth melody. This short instrumental section serves as a bridge to the next verse. The first chorus enters, and the melody in this section is memorable. A light piano section begins, but it soon builds into a spacey section. It turns into a section that reminds me a lot of IQ. The rest of the song uses many of these same themes. There are female vocals near the end followed by a guitar solo. All in all, this is possibly my favorite track.

"Suddenly"- This opens up with a jazz influenced piano and guitar section. The key changes and goes into the main verse. I think the verses are really annoying to be honest. This is my least favorite song by a large margin. It has some decent moments that keep it from being a complete throwaway, but there isn't anything that is particularly good.

"The Sorrow Song"- This opens up with a beautiful guitar melody. Dan Swanö's vocals soon enter, and the melody is pretty good. The first half is soft, but it builds into the same section but with drums and it's a lot more emotional. This is followed by a good guitar solo. The section near the end is really good.

"The Spring"- This is an acoustic piece. It really does nothing for me, but it's pleasant enough I guess.

"Waterfall"- This song reminds me a lot of Asia, and it is one of my favorites from the album. I love the pop-rock sensibilities of this song, and the melodies are excellent. This reminds me a lot of 80's AOR.

"After Before"- The closing song opens with electric piano and saxophone. It sounds a lot like something you would hear on a smooth jazz station. The acoustic guitar solo flows into the first vocal passage. It is very soft, and the saxophone compliments the verses well. The chorus is pretty good, but this is not one of my favorite songs on the album. I really like parts of it. The ending is excellent, though.

Conclusion:

Emotional Wasteland is a really good album. I which more Swanö fans would appreciate this album, as I think it's a unique album in his massive discography. If you can find this album and you're looking for some really good poppy neo prog, I recommend you check into Emotional Wasteland. My rating would be a 3.5 for this good album. Since I don't think this is one of the best Swanö albums (even though it is one of his most unique), I will round down to a 3. Still this is a very good album, but it is not essential by any means.

3 stars.

 Emotional Wasteland by UNICORN album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.81 | 19 ratings

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Emotional Wasteland
Unicorn Neo-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Unicorn is another one of swedish musician and producer Dan Swanö´s projects. Dan Swanö has played with many mostly metal orientated bands through the years ( Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath, Maceration, Katatonia), but he has never made it a secret that he loves classic prog rock and especially neo prog like Marillion and IQ. His band Nightingale makes a very nice kind of prog rock/ soft metal, very melodic and with Dan´s beautiful voice omnipresent. Unicorn is in the vein of Nightingale without reaching the good level of that band.

Unicorn plays some very poppy neo prog rock, with surprisingly weak melodies. The instrumentation is also very weak and to top it off the production isn´t too good either. I must say that I am surprised by this very weak effort from Dan Swanö as we´re used to much better things from him. This is really lame.

I am tempted to give this album 1 star, but on the other hand there are some nice moments and the album isn´t a complete failure. I will not listen to this again though. Fans of light neo prog rock might find this exciting, but I doubt it. 2 small stars for a forgettable album. What a let down. Listen to Dan Swanö´s work with Nightingale instead, it´s much better and deserves more attention than it gets.

Thanks to J-Man for the artist addition. and to CCVP for the last updates

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