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Windchase - Symphinity CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.18 | 83 ratings

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3 stars This is a decent album, recommended to fans of romantic-tinged soft prog. In Australia, the ship of the desert is perhaps the kangaroo; Camel is only a musical influence that deeply affected Sebastian Hardie's fluid guitarist Mario Millo, who leads this offshoot with great success. Windchase's "Symphinity" is a 1977 record that continues where Camel's "Mirage" left off but with an added feature: Mario Millo's equal fascination for Carlos Santana and Jan Akkerman. So what so special here? Toivo Pilt is the keyboard maestro here, displaying his gift on Hammond C3, Grand piano, Mini-Moog, Fender Rhodes, Mellotron, ARP 2600, Solina, Omni strings and Clavinet D6. Duncan McGuire on bass and Doug Bligh on drums provide the rhythmic support. The 8.33 of "Horsemen to Symphinity" is a colossal slab in the Camel, Focus and Santana vein which will be reprised at the end of this recording by the live 1998 version of the band with new members, except for Mario. More detail on this piece later. The average "Glad to be Alive" is another 8 minute joyride but the vocal and the string arrangement are plodding heavy, blooming only when Millo lets loose a long series of guitar forays with some spirited bass rumbling from the McGuire mate, but the vocals sound hopelessly outdated. "Gypsy" provides Millo the luxury of using his volume pedal, sounding exactly like the famed Dutch guitarist, amid the wrapping Hammond (sounding exactly like Van Leer) and the stop-start Focus rhythm, unleashing a tinge of Carlos "El Gitano" Santana, for good measure. How can one not like this? Fetch me a Foster's, will ya! "No Scruples" relies on some slithering keyboard parts, with loads of synthesizer solos that give way to some mesmerizing Millo acrobatics and more unconvincing but brief vocals. "Lamb's Fry" is a splendid 9 minute journey back to Camel lands, with charitable doses of electric piano solos, oriental tinged synth runs and energetic bass/drums, adorned with a scintillating jazzy Millo flight, full of technique and passion, searing into Carlos territory once again. When these guys drop the vocal mikes, they truly shine. "Non Siamo Perfetti" (we are not Perfect) is a humble acoustic guitar piece that explores Mediterranean aromas (Down Under is a land of immigrants, after all) and is well worth the 2 minutes as an interlude. "Flight Call" is another poorly vocalized song that is utterly forgettable with the corniest lyrics this side of Oceania but those were the times, I guess. Even the short synth solo is syrupy and tasteless. Should have titled this "Fight Call" instead. Fetch me another Foster's, will ya! Thankfully, the crowning achievement is the reprise discussed earlier, a near 12 minute rampage that manages to outshine the original version's sheer brilliance, with resolute playing by Mario and the Men from Mars. Perhaps the live setting added some zip and gusto because even the brief singing is better, the spotlight clearly remaining on Millo's expressive fingers, twisting notes, tossing in some overt Santana allusions (not too many are skilled enough to emulate that high and rapid sustain) and jamming with utter zeal, including a whopping drum solo. About 15 minutes are yucky but the rest is admirable and worth the adventure. Hey, there from Down Under, what the heck! 3.5 Waltzing Matildas.
tszirmay | 3/5 |


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