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Trion - Funfair Fantasy CD (album) cover

FUNFAIR FANTASY

Trion

 

Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 53 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Trion started out as a quirky little homage to the mellotron has now blossomed into a de facto band that keeps giving the instrumental prog fan more joyous pleasures. It has become serious enough for guitarist Eddie Mulder to quit his mainstay Flamborough Head gig (he is not on their imminent 2013 release) and, for the time being at least, see how far the mellotron worship can sustain itself. Let me just opine that the previous work 'Pilgrim' will be a very hard act to follow, as it was a superb collection in all aspects, from artwork, composition, material to playing. Certainly slanted in the mellow rock direction, a la Camel and its Dutch cousin Odyssice (drummer Memmo Boosma is a member of that band as well), the sky can be the limit when you have a deranged mellotron to be inspired by.

Some tracks are utterly magnificent such as the luscious and anthemic 'Scotland' and the ravishing finale 'Secret Matter' while the rest remain firmly entrenched in a solid formula of sonic expectations within simpler frameworks. The amusing opener 'Ampelmannchen' is playful enough, with even some brief backing vocalizations, but it's really an Eddie Mulder show as he spreads nicely on both guitar and bass, while Spanninga does some nice work on piano and adds some wistful recorder samples. Nice and breezy. 'Gananogue' is a little town in Ontario, Canada and as such, it's a short and sweet tune, highly melodic, sunny disposition and all. It has a latter sister track called 'Song for Canada' , a gorgeous track which is flattering I guess for us ice-skating Canucks. For those of you who do not know, Holland and Canada have a rather unique relationship, the Dutch never ever forgetting the liberation from the Nazi regime by troops from Canada, who also fed the famished populace. Some things stay imprinted forever!

But 'Scotland' has definitely strong ties to Latimer's dromedary, as it portrays dense emotional guitar phrasings, some delightful flute-synth ornamentation and solid rhythmic backing. Keyboardist Edo Spanninga lays down some evocative string mellotron carpets, as Mulder paints wildly on the fantastic 6 string canvas, a truly ravishing 11 minute piece of delectable mellow rock of the chiseled variety, perhaps even Trion's finest moment. 'In the Distance' is gifted with a soaring blues melody, clearly led by the slow-hand guitar solo which then evolves into a sweet pastoral acoustic section before reverting to the original theme. It's something you swear you have heard before, yes, that good! Acoustic interlude, you ask? Well, of course, Eddie taking his acoustic guitar for a little stroll among the tulip gardens in the aptly-titled 'Wandering'.

'Towers' is perhaps the least convincing tune here, a laborious arrangement that, to my ears anyway, has a tendency to plod on, missing some kind of spark, which is too bad, as it could have been a Focus-like masterpiece. 'Sealth' reverts to the acoustic/pastoral realm, a style that suits Trion well, very characteristic of their previous albums, seeping mellotron weavings, flute samples and stunning Spanish guitar phrasings that are truly magnificent. The oddly titled 'Meat Prizes' has a brisker tempo, not really as good as the rest of the material as the disc ends on the previously mentioned 'Song for Canada' and the amazing 'Secret Matter', a colossal finale. Both have rather impressive symphonic deliveries and majestic guitar lines, full of vibrant delicacy.

In all, a very enjoyable release but frankly, nowhere near the brilliance of the first 2 albums.

4 carnival whims

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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