Unitopia - The Garden
(Remastered Version)

(3CD 2023, 49:25, 51:22, 71:05, ProgRock. Com Essentials)

The tracks:
Disc 1 - Original Album Remastered
  1- One Day(2:28)
  2- The Garden(22:29)
  3- Angeliqua(9:50)
  4- Here I Am(3:19)
  5- Amelia's Dream(3:22)
  6- I Wish I Could Fly(3:25)
  7- Inside The Power(4:29)
Disc 2 - Original Album Remastered
  1- Journey's Friend(16:29)
  2- Give and Take(5:10)
  3- When I'm Down(5:41)
  4- This Life(4:45)
  5- Love Never Ends(3:49)
  6- So Far Away(2:11)
  7- Don't Give Up Love(7:48)
  8- 321(5:26)
Disc 3 - Extras
  1- One Day (Live In Europe)(3:23)
  2- The Garden (Live USA)(22:17)
  3- I Wish I Could Fly (Live USA)(4:11)
  4- Here I Am (Live Germany)(3:43)
  5- Angeliqua (Live Netherlands)(9:29)
  6- The Garden (Live Netherlands)(24:05)
  7- Tears From The Garden (New 2020 Recordings)(3:54)

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Australian formation Unitopia was founded in 1996 by Mark Trueack (vocals) and Sean Timms (keyboard and guitar) after they were introduced by a mutual friend who noticed that the two had similar tastes in music. The story goes that as soon as Timms heard Trueack sing, he knew they had to do something together. In 2005 Unitopia released their first album entitled More Than A Dream, followed by The Garden (2008), Artificial (2010, see review), One Night In Europe (2011, see DVD review), Covered Mirror Vol 1: Smooth As Silk (2012, see review) and recently Seven Chambers (2023, see review).

This review is about the The Garden 3-CD remaster digipack, including a live disc and a new song entitled Tears From The Garden.

Disc-1 : My highlights.

The Garden (22:29) The first part contains a percussive climate with vibraphone that reminds me of Peter Gabriel solo. Then a swinging rhythm featuring heavy guitar riffs and powerful vocals, embellished with fiery saxophone, powerful vocals, Hammond organ, steel-guitar solo and sparkling piano. The interplay between rock guitar and Hammond is exciting rock. The second part of this epic composition delivers lots of shifting moods, from dreamy to bombastic, tastefully coloured with a soft bass solo, a swinging piano solo and a powerful saxophone solo. In the end intense vocals and Mellotron choirs in the vein of 76-77 Genesis, wow! The great dynamics, fiery guitar, Hammond and sparkling piano often evokes Spock's Beard, also due to the inspired vocals of Mark Trueack.

Angeliqua (9:50) This mid-long track starts with a sultry saxophone and an angelic female voice in an arabesque climate, pretty hypnotizing. Then a swinging rhythm with Hammond and fat rock guitar riffs, followed by a mellow part with dreamy vocals, in a Neo-prog atmosphere. Next again rock guitar and Hammond, turning into dreamy with classical orchestrations, jazzy acoustic guitar solo and saxophone. Finally a heavy eruption with swirling Hammond solo and biting rock guitar, how exciting!

Amelia's Dream (3:22) First a voice, then a mellow climate with tender classical guitar, classical orchestrations and flute, wonderful, another musical face of this amazing band.

Disc 2 : My highlights.

Journey's Friend (6:29) A tight mid-tempo with fiery guitar and flashy synthesizer flights, wah-wah guitar and Hammond, and powerful saxophone, in a Neo-Prog atmosphere. Then dreamy piano and vocals, again Spock's Beard comes to my mind.

When I'm Down (5:41) After a spoken voice intro the mood shifts to bombastic with powerful vocals and spectacular synthesizer solo, the undertone is melancholy.

In the short track This Life (4:45) the focus is on a biting wah-wah solo, another wow!

Don't Give Up Love (7:48) is a varied and dynamic song with beautiful classical orchestrations (Mellotron-like soaring strings), a swinging break with distorted voice and spectacular synthesizer soli.

Disc 3: live + new track Tears From The Garden.

Unitopia is an excellent band on stage, in my opinion even more impressive than on the studio-albums, and the crowd loves it! Highlights are the two versions of The Garden (USA and The Netherlands), the band in its full splendour.

Tears From The Garden (New 2020 Recording, 3:54). A wonderful mellow piece featuring tender classical guitar, sounds of nature and romantic vocals, embellished with sparking piano runs, soaring strings and flute.

Conclusion about CD 1-2-3 : To me Unitopia sounds as a good and experienced band, the accessible sound is often close to Neo-Prog but in between room for lots of more complex musical ideas, dynamic and varied, topped with strong vocals. And live this band rises to the occasion, CD-3 is in fact a kind of 'best of' on stage. Highly recommended!

**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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