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Magenta - Revolutions CD (album) cover

REVOLUTIONS

Magenta

 

Neo-Prog

3.55 | 161 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Impressive, but hardly revolutionary

After having worked with Cyan on and off since the mid 80's, Rob Reed formed Magenta (like Cyan, also named after a colour) at the end of the 20th century. The lead vocalist of Magenta, Christina Murphy (aka Christina Booth), had already provided backing vocals to some of Cyan's recordings so Reed and her were not strangers to each other. The first thing they offered us under the Magenta moniker was this double album featuring no less than four epic, multi-part compositions and a running time of nearly 100 minutes (which means that it would have been triple album if released back in the days of vinyl). This is quite ambitious and given the extravagant format chosen they pull it off remarkably well.

The first thing to note is that Magenta is a wholly different beast compared to Cyan. Magenta wears their musical influences on their sleeves and the most obvious one here is clearly Yes from around the Fragile and Close To The Edge period, but also Renaissance and a bit of 70's Genesis can easily be detected. This is thus a lot more Retro-Prog than it is Neo- Prog, celebrating the classic Symphonic Prog from the 70's. There are some occasional orchestral sounds that disturb me and bring an overly bombastic feel to some parts, but the melodies are all gorgeous and memorable and there is absolutely no denying the immense talents of everyone involved. This is indeed a highly professional and well-made work.

The cover art fits very well with the music found on these two discs; it is bright like the sun, elegant like Christina's dress and light like the colour magenta. The problem for me is that it is a bit too bright, too elegant and too magenta. This is somehow a little bit too sweet and nice and pleasant (a problem I have with the music of Renaissance also) and I miss some of the grit and power usually associated with Rock music. For example, while singing about such a violent and grim event as a battle, one could expect the accompanying music to be a bit darker and more aggressive. It is not that they are not passionate about what they sing and play, but the resulting sound somehow lacks a tiny bit of substance. One can hardly dismiss the music of Magenta as Pop music, but it does have a bit of a glossy surface that makes it hard for me to fully appreciate what I from some kind of "objective" perspective clearly recognize as well produced music. I am looking forward to hearing some of the material from this album performed live (I am waiting for a live DVD from the band to arrive in my mailbox), my hope is that it will have a bit more Rock power and be a bit less orchestral and sleek.

Another problem I have with parts of this album is that some of the lyrics are hard for me to bear. Especially in Man The Machine where they sing about "mobile phones" and "laptops" (sic!) - this is just too silly and embarrassing for my ears! I do like the lyrics on some other parts of this album, though. The overall concept of the album is that of revolutionary events in the history of mankind. The best part for me is the first epic Children Of The Sun and the subsequent acoustic link-piece Opus I that repeats the melody from Children Of The Sun to great effect. This very nice acoustic piece is heavily Steve Howe-like.

I can readily admit that it is hard not to be charmed by these melodies and I was indeed somewhat tempted to award this a higher rating. However, it is equally hard for me to ignore the aspects of it that I personally don't like so much as well as the obvious influences. Taken for what it is, Revolutions is a highly impressive piece of work and I can understand why someone would consider it a masterpiece. While I have the greatest respect for Rob Reed, this music does come across a little bit like a watered-down and overly polished version of the classic Symphonic Prog bands of the 70's.

Enjoyable and impressive, but with some minor off-putting aspects

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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