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(112:25 2CD, MetalMind Records)
TRACK LIST: Disc 1 (66:26) 1. Overture 6:12 2. The Storm 4:31 3. The Veil 4:59 4. Covenant of Faith 3:19 5. Rescue 5:06 6. The Lost City 1:55 7. The Bonding 5:25 8. Ambush 5:22 9. Judgement 5:27 10. History 5:36 11. Confrontation 6:16 12. Vigil 4:50 13. Shadows 7:20 Disc 2 (56:29) 1. Fire Dance 9:56 2. Cursed 4:51 3. Closer 2:57 4. Disbelief 1:11 5. Murder 4:03 6. The Eleventh Hour 5:10 7. Resting Place 6:14 8. The Sands of Time 4:18 9. Embrace the Fire 3:35 10. The Night Before 3:55 11. The Fire of Life 10:12 LINEUP: Clive Nolan – keyboards; vocals Agnieszka Swita – vocals Christina Boob – vocals Alan Reed – vocals John Jowitt – basses Scott Higham – drums Mark Westwood – guitars Mark Kane – horn Alister Bentley – oboe Hugh McDowell – cello With: Mixed choir
Prolusion. CAAMORA started in 2005, at first as a collaboration of veteran English musician (vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter) Clive Nolan and young Polish singer Agnieszka Swita, whose first efforts resulted in the release of two EPs, “Closer” and Walk on Water”. However, already in the same year that the project was formed, it assumed the shape of a quite large ensemble, which instantly began working on “She”, an ambitious album with several rock as well as chamber musicians on board.
Analysis. After two years of preparing this material, with the first result being its live performance at the Wispianski Theater in Katovice, Poland, last October, Caamora finally have it out as a manufactured piece, but besides this double-disc studio album and a single live DVD, both of which I got for review, it’s available in a lot of other editions – too many to list here, though the curious can always check the Metal Mind Records website for details. I think the project can easily be considered to have the status of a super-group. Clive Nolan’s work is linked with such cult bands as Arena, Pendragon, Shadowland as well as a number of other outfits, most of which are well known to anybody with an interest in modern progressive rock music. The same words are relevant to John Jowitt, no matter that many will know him first of all as bassist for IQ. Singers Alan Reed and Christina Boob are from Pallas and Magenta respectively, guitarist Mark Westwood arrives from Neo, while cellist Hugh McDowell (if memory serves) emerges from the ashes of ELO-Part Two. The project’s playing as well as singing is amazingly passionate, a feature which, regardless of the stylistic or any other characteristics of the album’s twenty two tracks, is evinced on all of them. From time to time, the instrumentalists are all-out head-banging, such as on The Storm, The Bonding, Resting Place and Fire Dance. These four all contain some positively intricate and bombastic art-rock arrangements, at times with the inclusion of chamber forces, the first three sounding fairly heavy during those maneuvers. Several more compositions reveal at least one relatively large-scaled instrumental interlude, usually either within the symphonic progressive idiom or in the form of light Classical music, of which, respectively, Vigil and The Fire of Life seem to be especially representative. No less than half of the tracks are totally vocals-based, some alternating slower and faster arrangements, some keeping the same pace throughout. They all would’ve been mainstream rock music creations if they hadn’t had some unusual sonic twists. A distinctive aspect to most of the sound on this recording is the project’s wide-ranging use of orchestral arrangements: by means of real woodwind and string instruments as well as synthetic chamber and brass ones, those tracks involving a large mixed choir also have a certain operatic feel in places. However, the sound is quite original in general, lying far from what the names of all the primary players suggest, which comes certainly to a greater extent from the writing (and perhaps performing as well) than from the deployment of the aforesaid elements. Besides the piano-laden Covenant of Faith, one of the three ballads using only conventional rock instrumentation (which reminds me of Queen with a different singer) I only hear some echoes of The Alan Parsons Project in places, mainly when Clive utilizes the brass pads of his synthesizers. Although the recording consists for the most part of a song-based material, the instrumental arrangements are almost always diverse enough to take in the entire picture at one sitting or upon the first listening, if you will. The vocalists behind the act’s three main personages, Agnieszka Swita, Christina Boob and Alan Reed, all have their own tracks for expressing their own emotions, mainly in a traditional dramatic style, while when they sing together they create a sense of Rock Opera, doing that in a very natural way. Finally there’s one piece that impressed itself on me, despite being song-based. This is Rescue with its blazing oriental music-flavored acoustic guitar solo that runs almost all through it.
Conclusion. For a recording whose main virtues are originality and beauty, Caamora’s “She” is definitely worth the wall. Since I have always been an advocate of the former feature, and also taking into consideration the consistency of the quality of the recording despite any differences between the songs, I much appreciate this effort and give it a high rating. Nevertheless this is more Song Opera than Rock Opera, and so it can be highly recommended only to those mainly into more accessible Progressive.
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