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(218:32; Giant Electric Pea)
Track list: Disc 1 1. Common Goal 4:37 2. Fate 4:57 3. Justify 12:53 4. Take Good Care 8:36 5. Ride 3:44 6. More Than a Dream 5:43 7. Slow Down 8:10 8. Lives Go 'Round 6:31 9. Still Here 6:36 10. Unitopia 4:22 11. There's a Place 5:01 Disc 2 1. Common Goal (Matt's re-work) 3:43 2. Fate (Matt's re-work) 5:10 3. Justify (Matt's re-work) 11:15 4. Take Good Care (Demo) 5:38 5. Ride (Sean's re-work) 7:21 6. Ride (Extended 321 mix) 4:58 7. More Than a Dream (Sean's re-work) 4:55 8. Slow Down (Sean's re-mix) 8:18 9. Lives Go 'Round (Sean's re-mix) 6:30 10. Still Here (Matt's re-work) 5:33 11. Still Here (Sean's re-work) 9:40 Disc 3 1. The Outsider 11:52 2. Decameron Date 6 Tale 9 20:06 3. Haunted Storm 6:41 4. Ride (Dance mix) 5:34 5. There's a Place (Dance mix) 5:43 6. Common Goal (Dance mix) 6:29 7. Fate (Dance mix) 6:29 8. This Life (Demo) 4:26 9. Time for Change (Demo) 4:28 10. The Dream Complete 5:13 LINEUP: Mark Trueack - vocals Sean Timms - keyboards, vocals Matt Williams - guitars Tim Irrgang - percussion Monty Ruggiero - drums Mike Stewart - multi-instrumentalist Daniel Burgess - sax, clarinet, flute, piccolo, didgeridoo Craig Kelly - bass David Hopgood - drums, percussion
Prolusion. More Than A Dream – The Dream Complete is a 3 CD package by the Australian band Unitopia released in late 2017 at Giant Electric Pea Ltd. CD 1 is the original 2005 album re-mastered by Sean Timms and Matt Williams plus two bonus tracks. Disc 2 consists of re-worked and re-mastered songs from this album, again, mostly by Sean and Matt, and disc 3 contains more remixes, some previously unreleased and rare songs and one completely new track created specifically for this release. The art-work is by Ed Unitsky.
Analysis. CD 1. I haven’t listened to the original 2005 album, so it is hard to say how much this one was re-mastered, but for a debut it sounds very good. The album is homogenous in style, well-made, and although it sounds modern, its roots in the 70s and 80s are obvious. The strongest influences are early Genesis and early neo-prog bands collectively (including Mark Trueack’s Gabrielesque voice), yet the band added some elements, uncharacteristic of those periods and styles, such as occasional sax and jazzy keyboard impros, African motifs, and even a full-fledged orchestra, which, however, though not quite original in themselves, do not always fit the contents they are used in. Generally, the entire material on the album can be divided into two types – shorter and longer compositions. The former are quite average quality and generally characterised by a straightforward 4/4 beat and an overall verse-chorus structure; they are well-produced and richly ornamented, yet choruses repeated many times are what can annoy. The other part of the album – long and near-epic songs – are much more elaborate and significant in terms of artistic value, and I would like to dwell somewhat upon them. Justify (track 3) is one of my two favourite tracks on this CD, the longest and most complex-structured 12+minute near-epic featuring jazzy and vintage rock keyboards, a beautiful violin and even more beautiful soprano in the interlude. Wonderful. Take Good Care (track 4) is the second longest song, opening with a classical orchestral part, suddenly replaced by African motifs gradually developing in a rock song. It features diverse instruments and multiple hooking melodies. Slow Down (track 7) is my other favourite song. It begins as a ballad and, as it gradually develops, the tempo suddenly speeds up towards the middle of the track and we travel through a rhythmic yet interestingly evolving part until near the end, where it returns to the initial tempo and motif. Excellent. The next track (8), Lives Go ‘Round is another remarkable song, switching between 7/8 in the verse, sung to the accompaniment of vintage electric organ chords and intricately weaving guitar laces, and 4/4 in the other parts. Interestingly, this is the only song on this CD, as far as I’ve noticed, where the beat goes beyond 4/4. Of the two bonus tracks, the first one (titled like the band, Unitopia) is, perhaps, the weakest on the CD and is just a plain verse-chorus song with nothing special about it, which, however, does not stand apart from the rest of the material. The second (There’s a Place) is a female-male duo (the female voice is leading) in the spirit of Gabriel-Bush’s Don’t Give Up. CD 2. This disc consists of counterparts of the songs from CD 1, which vary considerably in content, quality and degree of resemblance to their originals, ranging from almost identical to barely recognisable. The first three tracks are completely different from their prototypes: in fact, apart from the lyrics and vocal melodies, there is nothing in them reminding of the originals. And they are in many ways better than them. More hard-edged, better produced, with more complex harmonies and tempos, they show how the musicians’ compositional skills have matured over the years. They do not remind of anything from the past anymore – they are quite unique and modern. Another excellent piece is track 5 (Ride). This is mostly a slow, melancholic, meditative, almost ambient song, which also has little in common with that from CD 1. I don’t see much sense in the rest of the material, where you can find little new and which ‘culminates’ in a techno-dance second version of Still Here as the last track – a style which, unfortunately, occupies much more space on the third CD. CD 3. This part is even stranger and more contrasting. The first two pieces are good epics (particularly the second one) showing reverence for 1970s classics. Tracks 3, 8 and 9 are robust early-neo-prog songs and are the earliest examples of the band’s work (there was an extensive gap of nine years between the band’s formation (1996) and the release of its first album (2005), and the This Life and Time for Change demos were written in 1996, in the very beginning of the team’s story). What is between Haunted Storm and This Life (tracks 4-7) is yet more versions of some of the CD 1 songs, this time all techno-dance, which can light-heartedly be skipped while listening. The album closes with an excellent completely new song written specifically for the purpose.
Conclusion. Apart from some questionable stuff, such as dance mixes or unnecessary repetitions of original songs, the boxset is a good farewell present (the team disbanded in 2014) to the Unitopia fans. I think, such collections are more targeted at a fan base, but it can also be a good thing for a ‘newcomer’ (like me), where they can familiarize themselves with the band’s legacy, trace its evolution from the earliest 1996 demos to their recent approach and see how talented musicians amuse themselves in a studio when they are too tired to write serious songs. Perhaps, electronic drums are generally used a bit too often.
Proguessor: September 2021
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