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On disc: Unitopia

- The Garden - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars

The Garden

The Garden
(InsideOut - 2008)

Most will think of bands like AC/DC and Rose Tattoo when someone talks about music from Australia, but with Unitopia now a prog rock / art rock septet is trying to leave their mark on the scene. The Garden is their second album, but the debut More Than A Dream was self-released and so didn't get widely spread.
Unitopia opens up with One Day, a slow, piano-based tune which features Mark Trueack's vocals. The song can carry you away... is dreamy. Even if the vocals get a bit more intense towards the end... and somehow it seems to be taken from a musical. And with the twitter of birds and percussion they lead you into The Garden. The 22-minute epos needs a bit time to develop and the Australian outfit takes you on a musical journey. So the fist part The Garden Of Unearthy Delights has a metallic edge, but also a bit of 70's prog rock - and a pop appeal. The vocals remind me a bit of Reamon - at least at The Dragon's Liar... Still in The Garden... They show a different facet with an longer instrumental part. Okay, towards the end of The Garden it becomes a bit lengthy... Luckily before you consider to skip to the next song they are back a bit heavier and here they remind me a bit of old Marillion... And you keep listening. With Oriental-influenced vocals kicks off Angeliqua, bassist Shireen Khemlani leads you into this one and then they rock! With the prog rock edge the Oriental touch is gone. Beside the heavy instrumental parts, their sound is differing when Mr. Trueack sings, partly symphonic, partly with a light pop touch or with some classic guitar - and flute. And then the Oriental-tinged vocals are back for a while. The short Here I Am is somehow catchy and could win me immediately! Two more and CD 1 is over, the 2. CD opens again with a long opus - Journey's Friend. Instrumentally they lead you into the heavy 16+ minutes long tune. Towards the mid part of the tune they go a bit jazzy with saxophone and keyboards, but then heavy guitar riffs set in. And the Hammond organ adds a 70's feeling. Aggressive vocals, heavy riffs give the song an aggressive touch, but then they return to the main theme and the keyboards and flute try to enchant you. The following Give And Take will easily get you. It's a catchy tune which is quite atmospheric, but less complex, even if you can discover new things almost every time you listen to this one. Some spoken words, which seems to be taken from an old radio broadcast, they introduce you to When I'm Down. Another light tune which gets alive by Mark Trueack's vocals. But don't expect a simple track! At Love Never Ends you get a short duet at the end of this short tune. Something they haven't used before on the album - and again I get this musical feeling... But then they head into the next track which opens with some classic influences. But So Far Away is only a kind of interlude to Don't Give Up Love. The final track is called 321 and is about a mining accident, where miners been trapped for days... And so the song has a dark edge, but also transports the hope of the miners. Its about the 2 miners who were trapped after a collapse for almost 14 days! The songs deals with the story of the two Beaconsfield miners. Cool track!
It seems that the Australians have the same influences as The Flower Kings, but they present a different blend. The roots are the same, but the music is different. But if you like great melodies, prog rock with a light touch and a positive vibe, then you should check out The Garden!

8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


           2008-2010 by Claudia Ehrhardt • E-Mail:

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