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Eclectic Earwig Reviews

Eclectic Earwig Reviews

Volare MEMOIRS CD cover
Volare' Memoirs...

Pleasant Green Records (PLGR003) 1999 Volare', an instrumental, Canterbury prog style band from Athens, GA, released their sole full length CD The Uncertainty Principle in 1997 on Laser's Edge and disbanded within the following year. Memoirs..., on Pleasant Green Records, combines the five songs on their out of print, self-titled debut cassette from July 1996 with "Memoirs of a Misshapen Man," recorded live at the Baltimore Progressive Rock Showcase in January 1997, "Oxford Don," improvised live in the studio during the March 1997 The Uncertainty Principle sessions, and "The Hive," recorded as a reunion in June 1999.

Although Memoirs... includes recordings that span a three year period, the songwriting largely stems from the era before The Uncertainty Principle, as "Memoirs of a Misshapen Man" and "The Hive" were featured in the live Volare' set as far back as 1996. Thus, with these tracks, the five songs from the debut cassette, and a live improv, Memoirs... accurately represents the Volare' live set list from summer 1996. The liner notes, including comments from three of the four band members, explain the different origins of the various tracks, their places in Volare's history, and the events surrounding the different recording sessions that generated them.

Volare's quirky and melodic prog rock shows strong Canterbury inspirations, including Hatfield and Happy the Man, in addition to slight jazz fusion and symphonic rock influences. Skillful dynamics range widely in intensity, sinuous odd meter passages groove, and textures from acoustic and electric guitars and a wide palette of synthesizers flesh out the sound. Volare' repeatedly achieves many of these extremes within the same song, making each composition more interesting through contrast rather than writing songs in slightly different styles to give the collection of songs contrast.

For budgetary reasons, the five tracks for the Volare' 1996 cassette were recorded through a PA onto four track tape, with overdubs of only saxophone and cello. The adroit execution of this low tech approach results in a surprisingly bright sound with clear separation between instruments, and along with the sharp live recording of "Memoirs of a Misshapen Man," these six tracks favorably compare to the other two Memoirs... tracks recorded in professional studios.

Memoirs... simultaneously documents Volare's early live set and releases various previously unavailable tracks from before and after The Uncertainty Principle. Fans of Canterbury style prog in general or that album in particular would enjoy Memoirs....

Review copyrighted by Scott Andrews sha3u@virginia.edu Volare' Information: http://www.keslers.net/grasshopper/volare.html

Track Listing:
1. North by Northwest
2. Eighth Direction
3. The Broken Waltz
4. Three O'Clock
5. The Odessa Steps Sequence
6. Memoirs of a Misshapen Man
7. Oxford Don
8. The Hive

Volare: The Uncertainty Principle (CD, 61:33); The Laser's Edge, 1997 The Laser's Edge P.O. Box 2450 Cherry Hill, 08034-0199 USA Fax: (609) 751-7466 E-mail: lasercd@aol.com Cyberhome: www.jersey.net/~lasercd I don't often do this but here goes . . . BUY THIS . If you call yourself a prog rocker, Canterbury scene music lover, retro-art-rocker, avant garde dabbler, jazzy fusionist, or just plain eclectically oriented as myself -- quickly find this.Volaré '90s tribute to all that was cool in the open-ended experimentation of the '70s is pure finesse, polished, engaging and downright fun. Not a single track is weak. Patrick Strawser is a genius on keys and synth. Steve Hatch knows his guitars and pulls off some the finest array of effects you'll find anywhere without being tweaky. His voicings and skills are uniquely twisted and hip-cool groovy. He also plays mandolin and Light sabre, (go figure). Richard M. Kesler bends and throbs his bass into throbbing, thumping submission. He does delightful sax too when the muse requires. Brian Donohoe is absolute perfecto drums and great etc. If you relish the wonders of National Health, Hatfield and the North, or Phil Miller solo works Volaré is a wonderful echo. On "Midnight Clear", " . . . in two seconds of time . . .", "Vespers" when Kesler adds reed and Strawser plays piano, even a coying Happy the Man aura pulses. I should point out that on "Black and White", Hatch roars and slays his overdriven, distortion-rich guitar wonderfully. This tune, in this not-so-humble reviewer's opinion, is the real Volaré with no other-band mimicry. Now that Volaré is history, (too bad), with Hatch and Donohoe in a new incarnation, Matter Eater, it is obvious the last track was a foreshadowing of things to come in another band format. Again, I affirm this is a must-have, first-and-last release collector's item. Huge salutes here!! ~ John W. Patterson EER-MUSIC.com TOP PICKS

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