Band Website: www.unitopiamusic.com
Label: InsideOut Music
Label Website: www.insideout.de
Release Date: 2010
A few years back I did a review of the first CD from Unitopia and it’s great to see these guys still together. Not only that they’ve really developed their prog style and are sounding better than ever. Having roots that go back to about 1997 they’ve gone through a few personnel changes but none of that has really distracted the core writing direction. On Artifical, their third studio effort the band is made up of Mark Trueack (vocals), Sean Timms (keyboards, vocals), Matt Williams (guitar, vocals), Jamie Jones (drums), Shireen Khemlani (bass, vocals) and Tim Irrgang (percussion). Each member provides their own musical influences and what you get is some wonderful melodic symphonic progressive rock.
Artificial is a collection of 13-tracks, three of them being bonus cuts for a North American release. The music created by Unitopia is very much of their own making and I don’t really hear any distinct outside influences. Perhaps the only thing is that at times the vocalist bears a hint of resemblance to Peter Gabriel in vocal tone. Things get underway with the moody and atmospheric “Suffocation” [1:40] a short piece full of keyboard washes and heavy drum percussion which slides directly into “Artificial World” [5:42], which then slides into “Nothing Lasts Forever” [5:31] a song built on loads of Beatle references in lyrics and musical motifs. Much of the music of Unitopia comes out of melodic song-craft. It’s their arrangements and song structure that makes this easily recognizable as progressive rock. There are plenty of changes in time and tempo and musical dynamics but even with that you never lose the sense of melody, which in the end makes the material memorable and hummable. Not counting the linking of tracks, the longest of the bunch is “Tesla” [13:21] which goes through quite a number of musical change-ups. A number of these tracks benefit from some nice string arrangements and even some well placed saxophone giving it a kind of Supertramp or Alan Parson’s Project feel. Not counting the bonus tracks, it appears the original track listing ended with “The Great Reward” [5:00] an absolutely wonderful track that features an almost heartbreaking anthemic melody and yet gives off a very positive vibe. I loved this track.
Unitopia’s third CD Artificial is easily one of my favorites of 2010. It’s extremely well crafted and well played. The compositions are structured in such a fashion that there is depth and substance in every track. This is a most enjoyable listening experience and I highly recommend it to fans of melodic symphonic prog. If you’ve never checked them out, don’t hesitate, Artificial is actually quite ‘genuine’ and a winner in my book.