(02 June 2002) The debut self-titled album (Progressive Rock Worldwide (Brazil) PRW 047, 2001) from Brazilian band Arion is comprised of seven primarily epic-length progressive rock tracks. Classical allusions are spread throughout and references to ELP and Yes will strike even the most unseasoned listener.
The band (pictured left) are musicians with the most varied professional formations combining an academic background specialised in erudite orchestral music with self-taught skills. They are creative, beyond being skillful instrumentalists and are recognized and respected interpreters in the squares where they act. The common interest for Progressive Rock united these artists into a solid musical design, characterized by elaborated arrays and instrumental wealth, that resulted in their debut album.
Initially named Magma, the group was founded in 1993 at the university of Viçosa, Minas Gerais, where they carried through diverse shows. They performed shows for television and started to have a bigger together endorsement to the public, having also performed in Belo Horizonte. Already with fine instrumentals, they acquired their current identity with the addition of the singer Tânia Braz, a musician who
studied composition at the School of Music of the UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais).
Tânia is sonically a cross between Annie Haslam (Renaissance) and Xyra (from Xyra and Verborgen -- review), the band's sound can be characterised as a strong blend of ELP, Yes, Nexus (review) and Renaissance! Lovely keyboard excursions meet exciting guitar riffs and layer upon layer of stunning vocalise.
The objective of the group has been to keep the commitment to consolidate a work of nice Progressive Rock and thus integrate into the Brazilian progressive rock scene.
The natural entry in the record market began with interest by the Progressive Rock Worldwide label (from São Paulo)-- specialising in Progressive Rock and with distribution mainly in Europe and Japan--which released their self-titled album
in various countries.
The 14+ minute two-passage epic "Eyes Of Time" opens the album. A series of distinct themes are introduced through the movements with alternating keyboard- and then guitar-led arrangements being interlaced with tender vocals. Themes recur as the piece develops and reaches its final climax. Crisp military-style percussion introduces the Renaissance sounding "Daybreak Child," a somewhat more accessible piece with a memorable melody and lovely John Tout-style keyboard scales and guitars playing under the tenderly sung Annie Haslam-style lead vocal. Tânia's sensual vocalise fills the bridge before the main themes--on keyboards and guitar--of the song returns .
"True Love" is a sensitively sung progressive style ballad, led by Tânia's sweet vocals and Sérgio Paolucci's light keyboard arrangements although a more robust jazz-rock influence emerges as the song develops; it is a certain standout. "Land Of Dreams" is a striking contrast with ELP-style keyboards, a soaring vocal lead and crisp percussion marking out the territory of a dramatic multi-theme progressive epic. Luciano Soares' guitar solos are incredible.
"Cosmic Touch" begins similarly to "True Love" with Tânia's supported by light guitar chords. Extremely lush and high speed keyboards and vast echoing guitar excursions are introduced as the track develops. The tightness of the players and the Nexus-style richness of the arrangements reveals the virtuousity of the individual members and their cohesiveness as a group. We especially enjoyed Sérgio Paolucci's keyboard solos.
Perhaps the song that must summarises the album is "Everyway" which includes a ballad introduction as well as vocalise joining Nexus-style instrumental movements that illustrate the power of Arion's progressive arrangements. The main melody introduced at 3:00 blends vocalise, lush keyboards and crisp percussion to alternate with the 'hope' theme that begins only 0:50 later. These two themes alternate and build as the song comes to its striking break. A gentle ballad and supporting arrangement echoing some of the initial themes brings this certain standout to its final conclusion.
Led by a male voice the light progressive rock tune "Natureza Mística" is sung in Portuguese. Lush keyboards and crisp percussion perfectly suit the voices of the choir. Layers of Tânia's vocals introduce tribal-sounding drums and varying vocal elements in the song's bridge along with Luciano Soares' soaring guitar excursions, Carlos Linhares' powerful bass solos and Sérgio Paolucci's Yes-style keyboard musings. The song ends much as it began with sensitively sung layers of vocals and only the lightest of arrangement echoing the solos from the bridge.
Arion's debut album is a progressive rock masterwork and an album certain to delight those that enjoy the music of ELP, Nexus, Renaissance and Yes. Follow the links to the band's and the label's website to obtain your copy. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, Arion is a must listen!
Check out the official website of Arion singer Tânia Braz!