Sometimes I wonder why progressive rock albums are released without anyone knowing about it. That also happened with Dreamer, the solo album of the Dutch-rooted American and multi-instrumentalist Anton Roolaart (see interview). He recently contacted me and asked if I was interested in reviewing his solo album. Surely I was, since our policy at Background Magazine is to give every musician a fair chance as long as the music is prog related. When I listened to this record, released in 2007, I couldnít imagine that one man could achieve such a fine job on his own. How is it possible that it took three years before I could enjoy this magnificent album?
It makes no difference whether Roolaart plays the keyboards, the guitar or sings; it all sounds superb. His musical style on the guitar sometimes reminded me of Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Transatlantic). He used the same kind of effects. Apart from the guitar sound, the way he plays the keyboards appeals very much to my musical taste. Using appropriate Mellotron-samples give the music a retro sound every now and then. This man knows how I like my synthesizer solos: very tasteful and expressive with a lot of passion and emotion.
Some musicians have the talent to play many instruments, but if you canít sing properly you certainly have a problem being a solo artist, unless you only perform instrumentals of course. Fortunately this is not the case with Anton Roolaart. He has a pleasant voice without having any accent at all, but he also has the gift of writing good songs as far as Iím concerned. Heís a real story-teller, a singer-songwriter so to speak. His songs are very adventurous with a lot of room for detail. Sometimes theyíre mellow and sometimes theyíre going full speed ahead. The album can be characterized by a great variety of musical styles; the influences of blues and jazz for instance are evident. This way he keeps the songs interesting for his listeners.
Anton Roolaart didnít create this excellent album completely on his own. The most important fellow-musician is Rave Tesar who also played keyboards with Annie Haslam and Renaissance. Together they were responsible for the recording and mixing of the album, but Tesar also performed some additional keyboard parts. For the rhythm section he asked Vincent Puryear on bass guitar and Charles DesCarfino and Rich Berends on drums. Among experts of progressive rock, the latter is well-known being the drummer of the American prog metal band Mastermind.
Iím not going to give you an enumeration of the individual songs on Dreamer. In this case I think itís more important to give you some references to compare the music of Anton Roolaart with. While listening to this album I heard many influences of progressive rock music, but especially bands as The Flower Kings, Steve Hackett, Yes and sometimes Genesis. Also The Beatles came to my mind. The music Roolaart recorded on Dreamer is pretty amazing and highly recommended to anyone who likes neo-progressive rock. At the moment Anton Roolaart is working on his next release. I hope it will be as good as this one. Letís welcome this new musical talent!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Read the interview with Anton Roolaart.
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