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(150 min DVD, Metal Mind)
TRACK LIST: CONCERT (85 min): 1. Entertaining Angels 2. Calm Before The Storm 3. Prayer 4. Thunderstruck 5. Walking On Eggshells 6. Landslide 7. Timeline 8. Mountains Of Anglia 9. Lighthouse LINEUP: Uwe D' Rose - guitar Steve Gee - bass Dave Wagstaffe - drums Tracy Hitchings - vocals Mike Varty - keyboards
Prolusion. One of Neo Prog's first 'supergroups', LANDMARQ appeared on the map of the genre in 1990 as a union of former musicians from English bands Quasar and Artemis. Three of the five founding members, guitarist Uwe D' Rose, bassist Steve Gee and drummer Dave Wagstaffe, are still with the band. Singer Tracy Hitchings (also of Quasar fame) replaced Damian Wilson behind the microphone in 1998, whilst Mike Varty (whose musical career began in 1993 in Clive Nolan's Shadowland) joined in 2002 - after the departure of original keyboardist Steve Leigh.
Analysis. Recorded and filmed in November 2005 at the Wyspianski Theatre in (yes still the same) Katowice, "Turbulence" is the first DVD by Landmarq. I'm taken with the thought that I can already perceive that Polish town as a kind of Mecca for many faithful prog-rockers from Europe and beyond. That being said, the house is full this time around. One of the cameramen from time to time gives the viewer to understand that all the seats in the theatre - be these in its parterre, circle or numerous balconies - are occupied. Partly thanks to the band, I own all six of their previous releases too, four of these being studio recordings, and the other two live albums. In short, I don't remember any of the nine tunes that Landmarq perform at this concert, although their brand sound still remains instantly recognizable. What the group in fact presents on this DVD are five vocal-based typically neo-prog numbers, Prayer, Entertaining Angels, Walking On Eggshells, Timeline and Mountains Of Anglia, three songs with large-scaled, genuinely sympho-prog instrumental arrangements, Calm Before The Storm, Thunderstruck and Lighthouse, and one purely instrumental piece, Landslide. As to the songs' peculiarities, Prayer is a smooth ballad, whilst of the other four from the first category, each has for the most part a rockingly dynamic sound, from time to time revealing some complex stop-to-play movements based on pleasingly intricate rhythmic measures. Nevertheless, it is the other three songs that are essentially determinative regarding the progressive value of this DVD, besides which, taken together they form nearly half of the entire concert. Calm Before The Storm and Thunderstruck are multi-sectional compositions (suites in other words), each consisting of about a dozen different, but carefully integrated pieces that fit together like a well-built puzzle, the music never having a simple chord progression to build on. The latter can in a way be regarded as Mike Varty's hour of triumph, since it's just he who in most cases plays 'first fiddle' in the soloing department, eliciting surprisingly many different tones from his synthesizer. Lighthouse stands out for its interesting thematic development as well, but is especially intriguing within its instrumental interludes, in one of which Uwe even ventures on an improvisation. The instrumental, Landslide, is relatively accessible in comparison with the longer songs, yet still very impressive. The DVD includes several bonus video tracks, but the quality of most of them (meaning the picture and the sound alike) leaves much to be desired. The most interesting among the 'extras' is, IMHO, an interview that Dave Wagstaffe, Tracy Hitchings and Steve Gee gave to a Polish journalist. I was really curious to know which of their releases the musicians consider to be their most important album, how they define their musical style, and more.
Conclusion. Just as in the case of the latest Pendragon DVD, I can highly recommend "Turbulence" only to Neo Prog lovers, though to be frank, this release better suits my personal requirements, at least on its instrumental plane.
VM: January 7, 2007
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