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VOLARÉ

Canterbury Scene • United States


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Volaré biography
A quartet from Athens-Georgia, this group managed two albums in the late 90's, but haven't been heard since. Actually, the usual prog quartet (with the bassist also doubling on sax) had started as a quintet as they also aligned a cellist, but by the debut album's release, he was gone. Their music is a rather quiet English jazz-rock, not far from Canterbury groups like Hatfield and National Health, but retaining its own spirit as well. Voted by many specialized mags, "The Uncertainty Principle" was in a lot of "top 10 of 97" lists, while the following "Memoirs" (released in 99) is actually a retrospective which contains the band's 1996 cassette tape debut in its entirety, along with three additional tracks.

According to their site, they named the band more due to a 70's US car Volaré, rather than the opera reference.


Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, Belgium.

Volaré official website

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VOLARÉ discography


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

3.79 | 23 ratings
The Uncertainty Principle
1997
3.68 | 9 ratings
Memoirs
1999

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

VOLARÉ Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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VOLARÉ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Uncertainty Principle by VOLARÉ album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.79 | 23 ratings

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The Uncertainty Principle
Volaré Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The sole fully-developed album by Volare proves - as fellow US band The Muffins did with Manna/Mirage - that you didn't need to be an artist with a personal connection to the extended Wilde Flowers/Soft Machine/Caravan/Uriel/Gong family of bands to produce top-quality Canterbury material. With a sound reminiscent of the best works of Hatfield and the North and National Health - with some more modern-sounding interjections from synthesiser wiz Patrick Strawser - the band produce a very credible effort which will enchant all fans of the subgenre.

It's a genuine shame that we haven't heard more from these gentlemen (aside from Memoirs, a collection of pre-Uncertainty material), because in recent years it seems the only Canterbury releases have been archival stuff from the glory days of the subgenre and the occasional new release from an old hand. I can't be alone in hoping that the distinctive Canterbury take on fusion won't die out as its founders retire from the music scene one by one; albums like The Uncertainty Principle make me think a revival is entirely possible, and prove that there's talent there equal to the challenge. It's a crying shame it didn't spark a Canterbury revival at the time.

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 Memoirs by VOLARÉ album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.68 | 9 ratings

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Memoirs
Volaré Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This American prog group from the mid-1990s came together to play not in the neo-prog or revived symphonic prog veins, but to recapture the classic Canterbury sound as presented in times past by the likes of Hatfield and the North and National Health. Memoirs isn't a fully- developed album so much as it is a compilation of early tracks and demo material, and so perhaps on that front it isn't the best place to first encounter the band's music - in particular, the sound quality on the earliest tracks in the collection is rather shaky, and in a rather frustrating way: it's bad enough to sabotage the sound they're going for, but not bad enough that you can't tell where they were aiming, if you see what I mean.

As it stands, I think their sole fully-developed album (The Uncertainty Principle) better represents Volare and their accomplishments, but if you are very keen on Canterbury these rarities aren't too bad either.

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 The Uncertainty Principle by VOLARÉ album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.79 | 23 ratings

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The Uncertainty Principle
Volaré Canterbury Scene

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Volare were formed in February 1994 in Athens,Georgia,USA by three students, Patrick Strawser on keyboards,Norwegian bassist Jon-Fredrik Nielsen and Steve Hatch on guitars along with drummer Brian Donohoe.The next year Nielsen leaves the band to be replaced by Dave Denkman and cellist Rob Sutherland.After many months full of rehearsals and gigs,Dave and Rob quit and new bassist Richard Kesler enters the scene.The new Volare quartet records a 5-track demo-tape in 1996,receiving good critics,followed by the recordings of their debut with the scientific title ''The Uncertainty Principle''.This saw the light in 1997 on Laser's Edge.

Following the unique lines of HAPPY THE MAN,the delicacy of RETURN TO FOREVER and the Canterbury craziness of NATIONAL HEALTH,HATFIELD AND THE NORTH or even Dutch SUPERSISTER and compatriots HOWEVER,Volare present a modern mix of Canterbury-sounding Fusion style,full of shifting moods, sudden breaks, slick melodies and flexible passages.With some heavy use of electric piano,distinctive synth parts and frenetic guitar work,the quartet draws the line between the Canterbury-Prog complexity,where interplays follow one another, and the all-time classic Jazz-Fusion style with its numerous breaks and light improvised sections.Rich compositions played with talent but also with a slight modern edge,mainly in a fast tempo,where the members can emerge both as pieces of a band as well as individual leaders.The later tracks of the album have sort of a light Avant vibe, a few of them have also a hardly detected symphonic twist, while guitarist Steve Hatch often recalls ROBERT FRIPP's complex guitar tabs at moments with some fiery and heavy guitar work.

Nothing very original or ground-breaking,but all compositions are definitely at a high level and will fill your time with many great listening moments.Anyone along the lines of Canterbury- Prog,Fusion or any fan of the aforementioned bands should approach without hesitation.Recommended.

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 Memoirs by VOLARÉ album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.68 | 9 ratings

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Memoirs
Volaré Canterbury Scene

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars American Canterbury--two words which don't hang out much

Volare is the now-defunct project from Athens Georgia, a real hotbed of the Canterbury sub-genre of progressive rock. Kidding aside, "Memoirs" is not a typical studio CD release but more of a retrospective. It contains eight tracks, the first five of which comprised the band's cassette tape debut release recorded in the summer of 1995. So it acts as a CD reissue of their maiden cassette tape recording with three extra tracks recorded from 1997-1999. In the same period their first proper full length CD release was recorded and released by The Laser's Edge label, it was called "The Uncertainty Principle" and was quite well received by critics. "Memoirs" is a very nice historical release which fills in the edges of the brief career of Volare. It is another labor of love from Geoff Logsdon, the founder of Zarathustra Records and Pleasant Green Records, who as a prog lover has rescued and assembled important projects from the likes of Surprise, Rascal Reporters, Still, Almost Always, and Volare.

The five main tracks of "Memoirs" were recorded live as a 4-piece group with cello and saxophone overdubbed later. This is a jazz-rock instrumental band said to recall great Canterbury acts like National Health, Gilgamesh, and Hatfield and the North, but with their own unique style. They have a warm and laid-back vibe, neither too dry in the jazzy sense and yet they avoid some of the silliness that you might get from Zappa or Gong. The sound is born of a wide variety of keyboards textures and a nice tight rhythm section. The electric guitar is prominent of course but another color of this band comes from a generous helping of acoustic guitar. The cello and sax come in at various points as the dressing, the cello being a particularly organic and refreshing component. Volare compositions sound highly influenced by the joy of improvisation, they are earnest and engaging, an instrumental rock that doesn't forget about melodies. The results are very satisfying and I'm not sure why this band didn't catch on---in fact they really should consider making another album. This is good stuff which brings to mind the Italian band D.F.A. who are currently quite successful peddling a not-so-different product. Let's go Volare!

"Volaré's quirky and melodic prog rock shows strong Canterbury inspirations, including Hatfield and Happy the Man, in addition to slight jazz fusion and symphonic rock influences. Skillful dynamics range widely in intensity, sinuous odd meter passages groove, and textures from acoustic and electric guitars and a wide palette of synthesizers flesh out the sound." -Scott Andrews of all about Jazz

While the sound of the debut cassette tracks is well below today's standards of production, they are not bad and certainly very listenable for me. The three later tracks have improved sound quality. I would recommend any fan of fusion or Canterbury check out the welcoming jams of this under-the-radar American band.

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 Memoirs by VOLARÉ album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.68 | 9 ratings

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Memoirs
Volaré Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars How many Canterbury bands are there that have come out of the U.S.A.? I am familiar with the great band THE MUFFINS but none other except for this band. VOLARE's first recording never did get released on cd until now with this release. Interesting to note that these 5 tracks(from 1st recording) were all recorded live and the sax and cello were added later. Also we get 3 bonus tracks including "Memoirs Of A Misshapen Man" which is a song that they played live from the beginning, they had just never recorded it. This is a live version that was recorded in studio back in 1997.

"Oxford Don" was a song that didn't make it onto their second release "The Uncertainty Principle". This version was also recorded live in 1997 at a different studio."The Hive" was recorded specifically for this album in 1999 when they reunited briefly for some live shows. "North By Northwest" was inspired by HATFIELD AND THE NORTH. It opens rather softly with keys, light drums and cello. A full sound a minute in. The guitar is playing over the top. The tempo and mood keeps changing in this one. One minute it's a pastoral calm and the next it's a driving rhythm. Excellent tune. "Eighth Direction" is a heavier mid paced song. Quite a bit of bottom end on this one. Organ, drums and cello lead the way. Some prominant synth work 2 1/2 minutes in,but it's the drumming that impresses me the most here. Guitar and cello follow. Some great bass lines after 4 minutes. It calms right down except for the brief scorching cello.

"The Broken Waltz" opens with a pleasant melody as drums and keys are joined by cello. Pulasating keys 1 1/2 minutes in come and go. Intricate sounds fill the air. The sound changes 2 1/2 minutes in as piano comes in. A full driving sound a minute later. The drums are great. It calms back down to end it. "Three O'Clock" features acoustic guitar and cello melodies. Sax comes in as well. My least favourite track. The next 2 songs are my favourite tracks. "The Odessa Steps Sequence" has such a warm organic sound of light drums,keys and bass. When the guitar along with a full sound arrive 3 minutes in it's even better. I like the synths 4 1/2 minutes in. A nice heavy sound before 7 minutes with some excellent guitar and bass. "Memories Of A Misshapen Man" is next and i love the intro. The drumming is outstanding. Synths 3 minutes in.A powerful sound follows that is closer to metal than it is to Canterbury. "Oxford Don" opens with lots of atmosphere as they are creating some tension here until 1 1/2 minutes in. Then the guitar soars tastefully as keys,drums and bass play on. I like the way this guy plays drums. Nice synth solo. The song calms down 4 1/2 minutes in. "The Hive" opens with guitar leading the way as drums pound away. The guitar is beautifully played. Sax, liquid keys and throbbing bass fill out the sound. Is that mellotron 3 1/2 minutes in ? Nice.

This is highly enjoyable Canterbury music with top notch musicianship.

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 The Uncertainty Principle by VOLARÉ album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.79 | 23 ratings

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The Uncertainty Principle
Volaré Canterbury Scene

Review by fragile43k

4 stars Volare's first album is solid and consistent. To a certain extent, I would agree with other reviewers that compare this album to works by jazzier Canterbury bands like Hatfield and the North and National Health. Like these bands, Volare uses light- hearted and melancholic melodies for there musical backdrop. Placed on top and juxtaposed against these are quirky rhythms and lead guitar. I could have done with less of the metallic sounding guitar leads, it seems as though they were thrown in to say "hey, we're still a rock band". A lot of the guitar leads just didn't sound like they fit. All the more understated picking/ acoustic parts on guitar are very nice and do a great job of complimenting the keyboard parts. The bass player is also the one playing sax on the album. I would have liked to see more sax weaved throughout the album, since Kessler is a fine sax player. The main reason that this album sounds like a Canterbury album (and why I like it so much) is Patrick Strawser's keyboard work. He has many similarities to Dave Stewart or Steve Miller on keys. Patrick Strawser's nimble and endearing piano work drenches almost every track; this combined with his lead syth/organ work makes him absolutely indespenscible to the sound of this album. I would also like to compliment Strawser on his choice of synth sounds; they are natural and earthy while still in keeping with a more modern sound. In my opinion, nothing ruins an album like a bunch of cold, spacey synths that are going nowhere and doing nothing rather than filling space. For some reason I always felt that Volare could have used a vocalist. I am not talking about that overbearing and pretentious singing that seems to plague a lot of newer symphonic bands, maybe just some understated vocals thrown in sparsely to hold things together. My favorite tracks on this album would have to be Abcircus, Vespers, and In Two Seconds of Time. I am giving this album 4 stars, do primarily to the heartfelt keyboard work--just listen to Strawsers Fender Rhodes part at the end of One Minute of Thought. Though Volare is disbanded, I hope to hear Patrick Strawser making more music in the future, by him or with other bands.

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 The Uncertainty Principle by VOLARÉ album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.79 | 23 ratings

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The Uncertainty Principle
Volaré Canterbury Scene

Review by swalter

4 stars Absolutely fantastic album, great instrumental passages with lots of tempo changes and melodic hooks. National Health, Hatfield and the North and maybe a little bit of Gilgamesh can be heard in the music. I also hear Bruford's "One of a Kind" too. This one I played for a long time.....the Canterbury style seems over used in some reviews but fits here perfectly. Not at all "avant garde" sounding as in an RIO sense, but well played and "melodic" as in pleasing with memorable melody lines.

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 The Uncertainty Principle by VOLARÉ album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.79 | 23 ratings

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The Uncertainty Principle
Volaré Canterbury Scene

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Debut album from this American quartet (the standard prog quartet with the bassist doubling on sax), and one of the 90's better albums in the Canterburian jazz-rock IMHO and produced by Glass Hammer alumni Babb and Schendel. With an amusing artwork, they recorded this album on the ever-essential label Laser's Edge in 97, and was very understandably well-received critically by the specialized press.

If this group is generally classified as Canterbury-an music (from Gligamesh to Hatfield to National Health and maybe a touch of Brand X), it is primarily due to their light-hearted harmonies, Strawer's particularly well-chosen keyboards sounds (often hinting at Stewart or Miller), every player's excellent skills and participating to the group's overall tightness, intricate compositions laced with original chord progressions.

One could also point to Kenso, Happy The Man or even The Muffins, but there is more than just sounding like other groups: Volaré has its own strengths and spirit as not be considered a vulgar clone band, much like Anglagard managed to recycle 70's sounds without sounding stale. Vespers and Abcircus are jazzier than most of the Kent groups ever gotten (except for maybe Gilgamesh) and some of Strawer's Mini-Moog (more Emersonian than Stewardian) and the mellotron both at the end of Blitz, are proof of this. Certainly not an album to give itself on a few listening, it is nonetheless directly accessible and with repeated listenings, this album will unfold slowly all of its treasures. Certainly one of my top 10 of that year and probably in the top 20 of the decade.

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 The Uncertainty Principle by VOLARÉ album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.79 | 23 ratings

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The Uncertainty Principle
Volaré Canterbury Scene

Review by loserboy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars On the outside of this CD is printed the following wonderful summation. VOLARE is an instrumental quartet who blend classic prog and fusion with a distinctive Canterbury flavor. Essential for fans of NATIONAL HEALTH, HATFIELD & THE NORTH & HAPPY THE MAN. Let me build on this brief outline but suggesting that this quartet combine lovely guitar and bass expressions with keyboard and drum interplay in a highly "avante-garde"-like way. At times, I even hear the ol' mellotron adding some symphonia. It has taken me some time to get to the review of this progressive gem, but "just for the record...I'm going to put down" as a real winner and one of those recordings which will keep you amazed.

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