This article was written for publication in the Virgin Music Stores magazine.
In a decade that has been dominated by grunge, rap and dance, it has been difficult for fans of progressive rock music. There has certainly been fewer progressive rock releases in recent years, and even more rare was the appearance of a new band.
Now, the most promising progressive rock band in years emerges in the form of Millenia. Britain seems to have developed as the centre of the progressive rock world, so it not surprising that this would also be the birthplace of Millenia partners Russell Dawson-Butterworth and Paul D'Acia. You may not have heard of their names, but if you're familiar with Pink Floyd, Asia, and The Alan Parsons Project, then you are familiar with the style of music they create.
Carrera Records signed both artists separately, and through an introduction Millenia was formed, thus paving the way for their debut album "Thinking Rock". The album delivers solid performances track after track, and listeners will be surprised at the high level of professional quality that this release delivers. One can only imagine what this band could sound like with a few albums under their belt!
The album opens with the strong rock anthem "These Are The Times", and continues to pour it on from there. "Steady Life" delivers the kind of power that's perfect for driving down the motorway with the windows down and the stereo turned up loud.
Paul D'Acia acknowledges that any similarities to Pink Floyd are not accidental. "Russ and I both enjoyed (without knowing each other) Pink Floyd and The Alan Parsons Project. The sheer depth of music intrinsically bound into the songs of these artists attracted our interest. What also impressed us was the fact that neither band was frightened of projecting an image that was not trendy and also that they experimented with styles and yet their work embodied themes and methods that tied it all together. Both Russ and I have 'served our apprenticeship' in blues and jazz but even when we are not writing together, we usually write stuff that is scarily like the other's output... spooky."
When Alan Parsons created his first album, it was based on a theme that explored the work of Edgar Allan Poe. In a similar vein, Millenia's debut album was also inspired by literature. "The Thinking Rock is actually a poem by the poet Dorothy Scrivener who died young from cancer about four years ago," D'Acia explained. "It metaphorically describes a place where people go to come to terms with life or find a solution - success, grief, euphoria, loss of direction, etc. Each song on the album represents a different story (or basic human emotion) and so the listener should relate to the songs."
"Thinking Rock" contains 12 tracks, three of which are instrumental. While most bands tend to shy away from instrumentals, Millenia approaches it head-on. D'Acia sees the absence of lyrics as a great opportunity rather than a hindrance, and says, "Obviously Alan Parsons did it first and for all the right reasons, the instrumentals are important paths between the songs, and furthermore they are designed to give the listener something to explore without lyrics to 'spell it out'. With the subjectivity being the key, your interpretation will be different to the next persons."
Sound effects in rock music can enhance the experience, and that has been true from Floyd's classic "Dark Side of the Moon", right up to Alan Parsons' newest release "On Air". Millenia continues that tradition by expanding the sonic experience on tracks like "This Town".
Millenia has worked hard to ensure that all the songs deliver a message, while also trying to give the album a solid flow. D'Acia cites the link created by the instrumental "The Ark", "the means by which man was saved from the flood. In this case the journey from the despairing 'For Our Children' to the more hopeful and redeeming 'Solid Ground'."
In all, a strong performance from a promising new band.
Grab a piece of the "Thinking Rock" today!
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