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Albatross - Albatross CD (album) cover

ALBATROSS

Albatross

 

Symphonic Prog

3.12 | 44 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars An American one-shot symphonic prog band operating in the mid-Seventies, Albatross released a single privately produced album before vanishing, and this inconsistent but nonetheless interesting self-titled album is their legacy. A strong Yes influence is instantly obvious throughout the five pieces on offer here, but the band filled their album with plenty of colourful instrumental variety, and, along with with Mike Novak's distinctive vocals, definitely had their own personality. Albatross deserve credit for their impressive technical skills and energy, and this work is instantly enjoyable and easy to find merit in, especially due to its frequently up-tempo arrangements.

Good on the band for having the confidence to open their debut album with a fourteen minute prog epic! For such a bleak lyric about the end of days, `Four Horseman of the Apocalypse' sure is constantly energetic and infectious! A rich variety runs through several different vocal and instrumental passages here, covering everything from overwhelming symphonic majesty, regal pomp, subtle grooves and dreamier spacey moments with very light classical elements for good measure as well. All of the musicians get to show off their skills - Mark Dahlgren offers plenty of bristling Mellotron used in different ways as well gleaming organ and loopy synth glitches, Dana Williams' lively drumming is rambunctious and commanding, Paul Roe's burning electric guitar soiling is heroic, and Joe Guarino thankfully delivers that thick plodding bass sound listeners love in vintage prog bands.

Mike Novak's boisterous vocal definitely tests the friendship on the quirky and slightly grating `Mr Natural'. Partly a comedic piece, heavy E.L.P-like Hammond organ stabs burst around a slight funk groove and a confident chorus, but the piece is more interesting when it spirals out of control with some delirious synth breakdowns and nice infernal Mellotrons bursts in the middle! The proficient band let themselves down by shamelessly ripping the church organ passage from `Close to the Edge's `I Get Up, I Get Down' section throughout the start and end of the amusingly titled `Devil's Strumpet' (love it!), but thankfully a constant fast tempo and endless tight and tricky peppy instrumental runs with superb interplay between all the musicians shine throughout the entire nine minutes.

`Cannot Be Found' is a mostly melancholic ballad with a wounded romantic lyric and plenty of Wakeman-esque flights of piano fancy and prettiness. It's a nice reprieve from all the busy and bombastic pieces that came before it, benefitting from its compact form and shorter running time, not even lasting four minutes. The catchy and punchy up-tempo closer `Humpback Whales' is, sure enough, a seafaring tale, with a foot-tapping beat thanks to the snappy drumming, and there's plenty of brisk little Hammond, Moog and Mellotron fills and some playful whimsical breaks. A breezy and likeable way to finish the album!

`Albatross' will never be confused for being a long lost undiscovered classic, but there is much worth discovering here, and the album greatly improves on repeated listens. As a prog-rock music collection grows, when you're sick and tired of the endless reissues of the long overdosed on classic titles and bands, little known curios like Albatross are more appreciated and very appealing, so do give the album a chance should you come across any of the CD reissues (an Australian label Great Barrier Records delivered the most recent one in 2014). A very decent work, and all the members of Albatross should look back fondly on the good results they achieved here with pride!

Three stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |

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