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Symphony of Light by Renaissance

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As one of the bands that broke barriers and helped progressive music achieve a modicum of public success during the Seventies, Renaissance has continued to produce quality albums over the years, This latest release marks the first without founding member Michael Dunford (who passed away in 2012).

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RENAISSANCE: Symphony of Light (CD on Red River Entertainment)

This release from 2014 features 68 minutes of regal progressive rock music.

Renaissance is: Annie Haslam (on lead vocals), Rave Tesar (on keyboards), David J. Keyes (on bass), Jason Hart (on keybioards), Frank Pagano (on drums), and Rych Chlanda (on acoustic guitar). Thery ae joined on certain tracks by: Ian Anderson (from Jethro Tull) on flute, and John Wetton (from Asia and King Crimson) on duet vocals.

While there are standout moments for each instrument, their unified flow is one of the things that this band excels in. Masterful compositions of an epic nature, filled with hot emotion and strident passion.

Often the keyboards seem to be the mainstay dominant factor, but that presence can be deceiving. While the keys are integral, their threads often slide so effortlessly through the mix as to be invisible, masked by the very core melody they impart. Grand piano often lends a majestic flair to the tuneage, while an astral quality is established by the smooth synth riffs. One of the interesting traits of these keys is their ability to be constant yet frequently blend in to the point of losing their individuality, coaxing everything to merge together in a glorious unison.

The guitar can be quite sneaky. There are obvious passages that ache with acoustic strumming, but occasions of electric fervor are immersed in the flow, hiding but working it. The acoustic guitar often adopts a quasi-romantic character.

The drums provide meticulous rhythms, complex yet fitting right into place.

The basslines rumble deep within the mix, a subtle yet vital influence.

Truly, though, the star of the music is Haslam's wondrous voice; her range so widespread, her capacity so rich with charm. Her lilting lyrics convey tales of lovers locked in universal love, mortals seeking the guidance of benevolent goddesses, and exceptional people in exceptional places doing exceptional things.

Overall, these compositions smolder with intense emotion. The pace is generally even and steadfast, kinda soft rock, although there are several instances where the band lets loose and indulges in some luscious grooves. While there's no actual orchestra, portions display a subliminal symphonic character, generating a modern classical edge. The rosy tunes prance with a certain regal flair.

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