My first musical experience with Nick Magnus was late 1978, when I witnessed him playing in the Steve Hackett band (after shortly joining The Enid, and the band Autumn for 2 years), I was blown away by his varied vintage keyboards sound, especially the unsurpassed Mellotron. My latest musical experience with him was his fourth solo album Children Of Another God (see review) from 2010, I wrote about it “I am sure this CD will appeal to many progheads who love this very tasteful and varied bridge between symphonic rock and progressive pop”. Recently Nick has released his sixth solo album entitled Catharsis, the successor of N'monix (see review) from 2014. I am not familiar with his fifth solo album so I was very curious to this new solo effort.
Well, listening to this new Nick Magnus solo album I notice the same blend of symphonic rock and progressive Pop as on Children Of Another God, but now with more emphasis on progressive pop, often Alan Parsons Project come to my mind, very accessible, warm and melodic. In most of the compositions Nick Magnus delivers wonderful classical orchestrations on his keyboards, especially in the strong opener Red Blood On White Stone (surprising heavy guitar solo by guest Steve Hackett), Convivium (strong folky hints with flute and harpsichord, and the shawm, a medieval woodwind instrument Nick Magnus told me) and the mellow The Devils'Bridge. In The Market At Mirepois we can enjoy an omnipresent violin by guest Steve Unruh (known from the Samurai Of Prog project), blended with harder-edged guitarwork. The beautiful female vocals, Hammond organ and twanging acoustic guitar evoke Renaissance in A Widow In Black.
My absolute highlight is the final epic track Mountain Mother. First melancholy classical orchestrations and high-pitched female choir, then a slow beat featuring mellow vocals and piano. Halfway the music becomes more lush with a choir sound and howling electric guitar. Next a mellow climate with soft vocals, shifting to more lush, then an accellaration with a bombastic choir sound, moving electric guitar solo and synthesizer flights. Then the final part features an awesome build-up and climax, between mellow and bombastic with howling guitar runs and lush Hammond waves, wow, this is certainly the best part of this new solo album. I hope for more of this excellent prog on his next solo effort.
*** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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