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Roz Vitalis - The Hidden Man Of The Heart CD (album) cover

THE HIDDEN MAN OF THE HEART

Roz Vitalis

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.09 | 128 ratings

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BrufordFreak
3 stars Another Roz Vitalis release, another rollercoaster ride. The eclectic and diverse choice of songs to represent this band's recent work is, as usual, surprising. There are gorgeously performed and recorded neo-classical pieces (of varying degrees of compositional complexity) set next to songs that sound as if they were intended for or belong in a local bar. This is a trend that I've seen from Roz Vitalis from the start--though I have to admit that this album is the best recorded and engineered album I've heard from this band. My complaint of Roz Vitalis material remains the same: inconsistent quality, inconsistent complexity (some songs feel like they're classical compositions while others feel as simple as child's play), and inconsistent audience targeting (exactly who is the audience that they see their music attracting?).

1. "Someone Passed Over" (2:18) a somber, not-quite-sad cello theme which is then augmented and developed by each of a string quartet to form a weave of high quality and maturity. (8.5/10)

2. "Passing Over" (LP Version) (6:43) a piano, bass, and electrified acoustic guitar version of the previous song upon which layers are added to include drums and flute, heavy electric guitars and synths. At the midpoint the song breaks down into "drunken brass and woodwinds" while drums and bass support, but then steady drum beat, rolling bass line, and picked acoustic guitar establish a variation over which piano, electric guitar, and horns join in. Nice play on that album-opening theme. (9/10)

3. "Rhapsody Of Refugees" (5:43) What the heck! Where are we? At the circus? Nice sound and performances of a rather child-like song but so shockingly out of character with the previous two songs that I just can't go there. (7/10)

4. "Blurred" (2:58) fast strumming acoustic guitar with keys, bass, and drums while flute, electric jazz guitar, trumpet take turns deploying the melody. Turns more Spanish in sound and feel as the song develops. Just a little to straightforward and lacking variety in the development. (8.5/10)

5. "Trampled By The Lion And Adder" (1:35) classical composition for chamber strings. Gorgeous. Definitely the band's strength. (5/5)

6. "Thou Shalt Tread Upon The Lion And Adder" (6:44) a weave of percussive drum parts, muted guitars and harpsichord open this one before 1/4 spaced strums from a heavily distorted electric guitar join in. The guitar then starts to riff and solo before the band steps up into a full rock "march." In the third minute everything slows down and spreads out into a more spacious, folk jazz weave. Nice. This is followed by an eerie carnival-esque section which flows and works very well with the previous sections. Now this is progressive rock music! A slow build and amplification sees the addition of horns and more guitar work. (9/10)

7. "Passing On The Line" (2:02) seems a piano version or variation on previous two songs' themes. Quite oversimplified. (3.5/5)

8. "Disturbed By Jungle" (1:56) continued Satie-esque piano experimentations or 'tudes. (4/5)

9. "Jungle Waltz" (5:02) a simple foundational weave within which electrified acoustic guitar, bass, drums, piano, and, later, organ and trumpet play. Competent but nothing very innovative or special here. (8/10)

10. "Wounded By The Lion And Adder" (3:55) violin solo with chamber strings supporting. Again, gorgeous and, again, the band's true strength. (9/10)

11. "Fret Not Thyself Because Of Evildoers" (6:58) opens with avery eerie xylophone riff over which some very heavy, scary electric guitar, bass and cymbols play. Then, suddenly, we're lifted out of the scary scenario and brought into a comic-pop Halloween party. Not up to speed for top notch progressive rock compositionally or performance-wise. (7.5/10)

12. "The Hidden Man Of The Heart" (5:13) band with acoustic guitars over which flute, electric guitar and trumpet take turns soloing or enhancing the musical themes. Though based on some pretty simple constructs, this one works due to the melodic expressions of the soloists. (8.5/10)

13. "Some Refugee Passed Over" (3:44) another composition for strings that opens with solo cello before viola joins in for the second pass through of the main theme. Third time through violin is added. The harmonic weave is quite nice. Fourth time adds a second viola with accenting notes gradually taking over the lead. At the two minute mark things break down and more staccato play comes from two of the quartet with more echoing and merging of themes. Nice piece. Why don't Roz Vitalis just stick to neo-classical chamber music? They're so good at it! (9/10)

14. "Psalm 6 (LP Version) (8:32) the attempt at a "heavy metal" (' la IRON BUTTERFLY or early BLACK SABBATH) version of the opening song's themes. Horns take up a theme in the second minute--over the simple "metal" foundation--giving the song a new Spanish flavor. Then, at 2:05, everybody drops out and a churchy organ enters performing some of the same themes in a softer, gentler fashion. Solo trumpet joins in with a plaintive voice. Drums and electrified acoustic guitar give it a 1970s MIKE OLDFIELD sound and feel to it. Nice (though hardly original). Bass, drums, and strumming acoustic guitars and mandolin give it a ALAN PARSONS PROJECT "Fall of the House of Usher" feel. Okay, they got me. Nice work. (9/10)

3.5 stars; a nice addition to modern instrumental progressive rock music. I'd love to see a Roz Vitalis album with all neo-classical chamber music.

BrufordFreak | 3/5 |

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