David Minasian is probably best known as the producer of many concert films of the band Camel, but he is also active as a recording musician. Recently the keyboarder and singer has released his new album Random Acts Of Beauty.
The genre of this album is easily distinguished as symphonic progressive rock. Epic, almost medieval song structures, heavy keyboard and guitar sounds and – certainly a key element – lots of Mellotron (for vintage choirs, horns, flutes and strings) are featured on this one. Yet, the music doesn’t sound as dated as the description may lead one to assume. In fact, Minasian has created beautiful timeless songs – so in a way the album title almost says it all.
The opening track Masquerade already shows the direction that all songs take and it is a good example for the overall sound. This song song features Andy Latimer of Camel fame on vocals and lead guitar which is a real treat. Minasian‘s son Justin plays all other guitar parts and solos on the rest of the album. But it actually isn’t the sound of a single instrument that makes this music so special – it’s the whole “wall of sound” that impresses, indeed.
This kind of symphonic music is all too easily discarded by many critics as sounding cheesy as hell with all these seemingly endless solos and different instrumental sections, strings, choirs and even harpsichord sounds. But let me assure you that in this case it isn’t so. Minasian achieves to use these elements in a rather light way instead of drowning the song ideas into pompousness and kitsch. But still, a few anthemic sections tend to head into the castigated direction, which seems to be inevitable within this genre.
Something else progressive rock has been fighting with since its early days is that the structures and the overall concept are quickly labeled as being overly intellectual. In this case, the music surely isn’t easy listening, yet it isn’t too complex either.
The album’s production is rather simple, without any real surprises. Frankly a little more effects work on the music would have made it even better. Furthermore some synth sounds are a bit cheap and 80’s-like. Then again, most guitar lines sound really crisp, sometimes distorted and even heavy.
Random Acts Of Beauty is a great album that brings back an almost lost progressive subgenre – that of symphonic rock. But the most important thing is that Minasian shows that this kind of music can still sound very good.
written by Wolfgang Merx