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Midas - Beyond The Clear Air CD (album) cover

BEYOND THE CLEAR AIR

Midas

 

Symphonic Prog

4.03 | 32 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Midas was one of the most notable Japanese bands from the prog revival era that took place in the 80s. Their style was clearly defined as a halfway between the stylish essence of vintage symphonic prog (Yes, UK, Camel) and the agile dynamics of neo- prog, with a preference for the former point of reference. It will also be fair to notice that the band's overall sound bears an exotic flavor regarding both melody and cadence, a factor that allows them to create originality across their influences. The fact that the violin assumes the leading role most of the times males the band enhance the symphonic possibilities of the keyboard input in order to let the violin solos shine whenever they emerge. In perspective, one can tell that their debut recording "Beyond the Clean Air" doen't equal the power incarnated in their third effort "Third Operation" (in my opinion, their highlight album), but all in all, it is a very strong debut, a musical work that should be undoubtedly appealing for any symphonic prog lover, especially for its melodic richness and predominant extroverted moods. 'Sham Noctulica' kicks off the album with a splendid slow intro, something like a mixture of UK's 'Danger Money' and Genesis' 'Eleventh Earl of Mar', somewhat leaning closer to the moderately sinister vibe of the former. The track's development turns into an exciting, colorful display of symphonic sounds framed under a neo-prog oriented guise: the interaction between the energetic synth solos and the elegant intrusive violin phrases are well accomodated on the solid rhythm section, before the majestic intro is reprised into the closure. This track is a solid garantee for a very good impression. Next comes 'The Slough of Despond', which fills the following quarter of an hour with an even more pompous exercise on symphonic prog melodies and ambiences, featuring a heavier presence of keyboards - Eishyo Lynn's style is evidently inspired by Wakeman and Jobson, in equal terms, particularly the playful classicism of the former and the sense of cosmic texture of the latter. The inclusion of some slight Celtic-inspired lines in some mofits helps the track to keep its uptempo vibe in a very consistent fashion. A piano-led interlude, a waltz-based progression and a Camel-meets-Pendragon motif set on complex rhythmic structures succeed each other in a well-ordained fluidity. 'Mortuary', despite its title's funeral allusions, keeps the joie-de-vivre spirit alive. Its uptempo exotic main melodic lines include a funny brief tango section: as weird as it may sound, the trick works quite well. It is the shortest track in the album, but not the simplest, since it contains enough twists to become musically demanding. The official repertoire end with the 18+ minute long title track, a real marathon that represents Midas' musical statement at its most expressive level. It begins with a melancholy introduction performed on piano, wodwind-like synth and violin, exrcising the ghosts of old Baroque muses. The first sung section bears the scheme of a prog ballad, conceived in a compromise between UK and Curved Air. When things get faster, they really get fast, creating the perfect pretext for the exhibition of bombastic solos on violin and synthesizer, while the rhythm duo keeps things catchy and dynamic. Things slow down, heading for quasi-cosmic fields, building a bridge toward a reprised old motif and its subsequent coda, which alternates the climatic and the melancholic. 'Green Forest' is a very good bonus track, which makes it more than accurate that it should be published on this CD edition of the album. Regarding ambience and mood, it is very closely related to tracks 1 and 2. The album, as a whole, works well, and despite the fact that the dominant keyboard sounds feel somewhat dated, it stands as a progressive gem to be preoperly appreciated by genuine symph prog fans - Midas is a mandatory entry in every collector's list.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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