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Monarch Trail

От Michael Baryshnikov (2:5023/24.3243) к All

В ответ на Заголовок предыдущего сообщения в треде (Имя Автора)

Hello All!

Залит Monarch_Trail/(2021)_Wither_Down

Новое имя на сервере - канадская прогрессив-рок-группа.
Собственно Монарх Трейл - это _почти_ сольный проект известного клавишника Кена Бэйрда.
Также, как его сольники, это набор меланхоличных, йесообразных инструменталов и песен, объединённых общей концепцией.
Это третий альбом из цикла (два предыдущих я не слушал).
Ну, не знаю - впечатления особого это на меня не произвело, насмотря на красивые клавиши и меллотрон, чего-то там не хватает, но говорить о потерянном времени тоже не приходится. Послушайте, вдруг понравится.

(c) Monarch Trail biography, PA
Founded in Dundas, Ontario, Canada in 2014

Mostly known for his works as a solo artist, Canadian keyboardist and composer Ken BAIRD would expand his activities after no less than five solo albums and come up with the trio of Monarch Trail, a project formed out of the need of Baird to produce music in a more teamwork status.Bassist Dino Verginella and drummer Chris Lamont, who completed the line-up, were both featured in Baird's previous albums. As guitars were also part of Monarch Trail's compositions, they were helped during the sessions of their debut by John Mamone, Kelly Kereliuk and Steve Cochrane.The first work of the band "Skye" was partly inspired by the drawings of Annette Roche, so naturally some of them became part of the album's artwork, a record eventually released in April 2014 and based on the principles of the Neo Prog/Symphonic Rock genres.

Ken Baird biography
Kenneth Lawrie Baird - Born in Dundas (Hamilton), Canada

There's something very endearing about the music of Ken BAIRD: a combination of exquisite, melodic orchestral prog with pastoral, almost elemental acoustics. His four albums to date provide some outstanding progressive moments spiked with folk elements. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, BAIRD had his first piano lessons at the age of fourteen and then went on to study classical music at McMaster University. In 1994, he released an album with the band PERPETUAL ANGELUS and then went solo when the band broke up. All of his cd's are self produced and self sold (available from his web site).

His first album, "August" (1996), is all instrumental except for one track (with BAIRD handling all the instruments himself). Despite the synths, this reflective album has a warm and natural feel, at times reminiscent of Mike OLDFIELD, GANDALF or CODA, at other times taking on TANGERINE DREAM, VANGELIS and Rick WAKEMAN flights. "Fields" (1998), his second release, has a slightly more progressive edge and features four guest musicians - among whom you'll hear the distinctive soprano voice of Susan Fraser. It also showcases Ken's talents as a singer-songwriter. His tender, intimate, almost contemplative delivery is in the tradition of the best English vocalists and suits the dream-like imagery of the themes perfectly. "Orion", released in 2000, features yet more guest musicians (including guitarist Steve COCHRANE) who help create a bigger, rockier sound and give the album a more dramatic feel, both in the writing and the production. With "Martin Road" (2003), we are back to more pastoral harmonies and intimate song writing. Here again, BAIRD's vocals are so gentle it almost seems as if he were afraid of getting caught singing, as though someone might walk in... but you wouldn't want it any other way. Gentle, yet very powerful stuff.

Whether instrumental - or song-oriented, Ken BAIRD's material oozes class from every pore. His well-crafted and colourful musical phrases can't fail to connect with anyone into quiet, contemplative melodic prog.

(c) Lise (HIBOU), PA

(c) Review by tszirmay, PA

Four years have gone by since the Monarch last left a Trail in the world of Prog, slowly emerging from the pandemic lockdown, fully stretching its wings, and taking liberating flight once again. Funny how stressful situations can inspire some (not all) artists to go deeper, further, and farther than ever before in the Olympic struggle to stimulate their muse and come up with some quality art. I cannot help noticing that besides clean and sterile hands, the lockdown has given inspiration a whole new dimension, a lot of soul searching with little to no (outside) distraction that may induce complacency or routine.

Ken Baird has awoken from the long hiatus and has worked on a follow-up third Monarch Trail album, the previous two having been very well received in Progland. I am sure that the surrounding beauty of Dundas, Ontario is most influential in massaging the muse, as this third opus clearly deviates from the Neo-prog labelling, as it is deliberately more symphonic in scope and texture. Ken has elevated his piano playing to glorious heights, using this most classical of keyboard instruments to set the melodic foundation of this compositions. Yes, it is very much ivory centric, but his faithful crew still supply the needed dynamics on guitars, bass, and drums, in order to flesh out the arrangements. Hello Dino, Chris, Kelly and Steve!

The opening title track has a running time of nearly 11 minutes (a bit beyond the neo time frame), setting the tone right from the opening notes, no holds barred. The piece just blooms brightly, led by that limpid and vivacious piano, picking up pace and delivering some lovely performances (Dino' s reptilian bass especially) along the way. Ken's vocal differs from the norm, strangely fragile and pained, as per the sorrowful lyrical foresight of the pandemic era but Ken informs me of the following: . "For sure, people will interpret it any way they want no matter what I say and of course that's kind of the whole point with songs, but I also like to say what happened, that it was all done just before covid. I mean JUST before too, I finished the lyrics and vocals off in Jan/Feb of 2020 and then covid hit in March. It was kind of weird!"

Two 6-minute pieces are up next, a more guitar dominated orientation as Kelly Kereliuk's axe sets the mood, with swerving motifs of varying contrasts, whistling synths and complex twists and turns. The lyrics hint at the 'condition' : " Trials of our lives , Laughing up our woes Sounds far away Of Engines and horns, Echo will still remain if we try And keep us still here if only time could be alive" Nice? "Canyon Song" is a plaintive lament at the start, offering an almost Genisisian feel, with Ken' brittle vocals until Kelly lets the guitar rip. After the fury, the serenity of a sweeping solitary and extended synth line, with partners bass and drums in tow, keeps the intensity palpable and dramatic.

Another 2 epic tracks follow, as the powerful mellotron introduces the forlorn "Waves of Sound" as well as tossing in a few French lyrics into the mix (real Canadian, eh?), a brooding melancholia that takes its sweet time in developing, blossoming slowly into a long carpet of moods and echoes, the piano solo rising over the mellotron waves is a thing of utter splendour. Very tasty indeed.

"Megalopolitana" is not only the leviathan piece here clocking in just over 15 minutes, but also the signature piece from this release, as it clearly hits all the pleasure nodes. Opening jazzy notes, breezy voices that evolve into a rather elongated foray into all kinds of areas of sonic delight, highlighted by a lovely parping and bombastic synth motif, straight out of the Tony Banks school of how to play a lead synthesizer, using emotion, grandeur, atmosphere, and passion. Kelly goes on an extended guitar rant of the finest vintage, expressively insistent yet highly expressive. Throw in a vocal section, a tremendous acoustic guitar showcase from Steve Cochrane and a final moody flourish, voila! This could have been a fine Anthony Phillips style epic! Easily one of Ken's finest compositions!

A sweet 6 minute + finale puts this one to bed, "All Kinds of Futures" (please notice the double plural) and seals the deal for me, as the liquid piano glides majestically across from one speaker to another, a faultless instrumental that also features French Horn, and Penny Whistle, loads of 'tron, bass, guitar and drums. Love it!

So very happy to see you back on the grid, easily one of the finest Canadian prog artists around. I urge you all to take the Monarch Trail, and if you stay in small groups, you won't even need a mask!

WBR, Michael Baryshnikov.

--- wfido
* Origin: FidoNet aka 2:5020/35.323 (2:5023/24.3243)

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