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United Progressive Fraternity - Planetary Overload, Part 1 - Loss CD (album) cover


United Progressive Fraternity


Crossover Prog

3.83 | 76 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars From the ashes of UNITOPIA, Mark Trueack marches on with his messages of human potential and spiritual possibility through melodic Neo Prog. In this current format, Mark seeks out collaborations from some of the all-stars of Prog and turns out stunningly beautiful and poignant musical compositions. A special shout out to the added value brought by Steve Unruh. Planetary Overload, Part 1 - Loss is constructed and performed like an amazingly well-produced sound recording of an original cast performance of a stage musical on climate change.

"- Phase I - Dawning On Us" : 1. "Loss (Anthem)" (3:25) droning instruments and voices, as if Nature were gathering for an early morning ritual or celebration. All kinds of comments by world scientists and elders are clipped over this introductory overture. By the second minute there is a congealing of instruments; by the third there is a wonderful layering of voices singing among the flutes, strings, harps, guitars, percussives, and violin. Has a refreshing JON ANDERSON Olias of Sunhillow feel to it. (9.5/10)

2. "What Happens Now" (4:04) a jazzy, cinematic (think "James Bond") backdrop to a multi-voiced rock opera about the realities of and human awakening to climate change. Powerful, masterfully engineered, just not the catchiest music. Feels as if it belongs on a stage with a full cast of actor/singer/dancers. (Is this possible, Mark?) (8.5/10)

3. "Cruel Times" (8:05) slow, steady, emotive pit orchestra music to support the important plaintive message of the singer. In the second half, the music goes on a walkabout to support the very jazzy soli of piano, violin, and multiple synths. Nice bass play beneath. A nice performance from a big chunk of the all-stars. Again, it all feels so theatric--as if it's all meant to be spread out over 90 minutes and accompanied by acting and choreographed dancing among professional sets, lighting, and costumes. (12/15)

4. "What Are We Doing To Ourselves" (3:19) berimbau, oud, bazouki, dulcimer and other instruments from various world folk traditions (thanks! Charlie Cawood!) participate in this atmospheric piece. Not unlike a nice early ALAN PARSONS PROJECT song. (10/10)

"- Phase II - Destraction and Destruction" : 5. "Stop-Time" (6:56) raw, raunchy rock'n'roll in the order of URIAH HEEP with some awesome clavinet (is that you Nick Magnus?) and guitar chord play arranged with vocal bursts often expressed during complete stops from the instrumental music. The multi-voice staging is brilliant--but so meant to be seen, on a theatrical stage! Great "dulcimer" solo in the fifth minute. Nice performances by guests Nick Magnus, Hasse Fröberg and Colin Edwin among others. (12.5/15)

6. "One More" (2:37) pensive guitar arpeggi with intermittent violins, fretless bass, and mandolin contributions behind Mark's succinctly voiced lyric. Brilliant voice clips spliced into the end. (4.5/5)

7. "Mercenaries" (6:48) again, theatric stage craft at its finest. I just want to see the play! Great contributions from the musicians--especially Steve Unruh. The frenzied, chaotic second half is sheer brilliance. What I'd give to see the stage presentation of this one--the lights, sets, costumes, and choreography. Not a fan of the "in the dead of the night" choral section in the sixth minute, but am very impressed by the guitarist. (Matt Williams?) (13/15)

8. "What If" (1:44) pensive performances from guitars, muted trumpets, and lead singer, Mark Trueack. (4.25/5)

9. "Forgive Me, My Son" (7:46) with kalimba and hand drums and other Sahara-area instruments providing the PETER GABRIEL sound--as well as Mark's vocal approach! (13.5/15)

"- Phase III - Growing" : 10. "Dying To Be Reborn" (5:19) Mark singing with a single acoustic guitar opens this one, but not for long as the full band jumps in before the end of 30 seconds. Really nice guitar and sitar work as fast moving chords of orchestral hits travel and build in the background. Then multi-voice "ba-ba-pas" with sitar and horns preempt a rock anthemic support for a great electric guitar solo. This ends and we return to the opening structure and palette (with a little more Nick Magnus magic added in the background). (8.5/10)

11. "Seeds For Life" (19:33) another Trueack song who's message may be more important, more beautiful than the music. Brilliant concept, wonderful construction, thank you! (Special thanks to the wonderful contributions on classical guitar by Steve Hackett.) (36/40)

12. "Loss To Lost" (5:15) opens with ocean sounds before dramatic piano, flutes and sitar float and flit in the mix. At 0:50 the music transitions into the body with a slightly Latin-based rhythm driving the rock instruments. Nice contributions from unusual world instruments--percussive and stringed. The vocalise of soprano Grace Bawden playing off of the subtle piano and violin work is really cool. A beautifully conceived, constructed, and performed song. My final top three song. (9.5/10)

Total time 74:51

If you're into rock opera, music theater, or musical stage craft of the importance and relevance of something like Hamilton or Jesus Christ Superstar you'll love this album. Also, if you look at that list of all-stars making their very real and integral contributions to this album, you will expect to think that you're in for some quality performances and exciting music--and you will be right! Check it out! Pick it up! You won't regret it!

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of gorgeous progressive rock with a very important message for our current world.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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