Random Acts Of Beauty
David Minasian is a new name to me, but he's been working in the world of music and film for a long time now. This is actually his second solo album, although seeing as how it's been 26 years since the first one, we can look at this as a fresh beginning. Before I'd even pushed play, I'd mentally decided on this being an album of quiet grandeur, of stately symphonic prog rock. And that was just from looking at the cover! Usually my expectations are dashed, but this time around they were exceeded a hundredfold. Because this is my favourite prog release of the year.
The majority of the music here is fairly laid back, dreamy prog that could easily have graced classic Moody Blues or Camel albums from the seventies. Mr Minasian has taken keyboard driven prog rock off into the stratosphere in places, bringing in Pink Floyd style elements and some strands of mid-seventies Yes. But with his ever so soft vocals and fabulous compositions, it's always his release.
The opening track, 'Masquerade' is one of the highlights, and even features the guitar work of Andrew (nee Andy) Latimer from Camel. Turns out David Minasian directed a concert film and documentary for Camel back in the mid-nineties and they've been friends ever since. There's plenty time for both of them to shine as the song slowly unveils itself over twelve minutes. There are three instrumental tracks on the album with 'Storming The Castle' the best of them. It's a rare chance for Mr Minasian to kick out his particular jams, and there is some fabulous guitar work from his son, Justin.
Out of all the exquisite tracks on offer, it's 'Frozen In Time' that is the winner for me. It's not for the faint of heart, being a fifteen minute long instrumental, which has its roots in the early eighties when he was recording his debut album. It's been brought up to date with some new material added, and is a full-on, proper, everything including the kitchen sink, over the top progressive masterpiece that throws lutes, flutes and a cathedral organ into the mix. It's utterly insane and utterly fantastic. In fact, I'm a wee bit dizzy just thinking about it.
It's the best symphonic prog album I've heard in years, and the best prog album, full stop, of this year. Essential listening.
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