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United Progressive Fraternity: Fall in Love with the World
When Mark Trueack announced the break-up of Unitopia, the feeling was like that of losing a close friend or family member. But Mark Trueack, (Truey), has been working on many projects at the same time. The United Progressive Fraternity evolved from the collaborations of some of Truey's favorite artists on a solo album yet to be released. The project took over Truey's consciousness to the point that he temporarily put aside the solo album to help assemble this cast of creative and innovative artists. Like a fraternity, this is no young bunch of artists trying to find their way. These are seasoned and experienced artists from some of prog rock's premier bands. The "fraternity" includes honorary members Jon Anderson and Steve Hackett amidst a cast of "Who's Who" in modern prog rock. The wonderful thing about the fraternity is that it will expand and grow over time to include some excellent surprise contributors in the future.
But that is the future…let's talk about the present and their debut, Fall in Love with the World.
The United Progressive Fraternity, for this debut album include some familiar names like Matt Williams, guitar; Dave Hopgood, on drums; Tim Irrgang, on percussion and Mark Trueack, on vocals; all from the band Unitopia. The Fraternity also includes original members: song-writer Guy Manning, (Manning and The Tangent), on vocals and keyboards; Daniel Mash, (Maschine, The Tangent), on bass guitar; Marek Arnold, (Seven Steps to the Green Door), on wind and keys; and Steve Unruh, on violin and flute. Honorary members include Jon Anderson, formerly the voice of the rock legend Yes: and Steve Hackett, on guitar, formerly the exquisite and innovative guitar sounds of the rock legend Genesis. Claire Vezina, also brings her beautiful vocals to the project.
To open the album, what better way than with an overture? And "We Only Get One World" is full of sounds of voices from around the world mixed well with intricate and exquisite percussion, soft acoustic guitar and sounds from throughout the world all surrounded by a powerful heartbeat of drums. Like the opening of a classic Disney movie or a symphony of the world it welcomes you to the fraternity. The four minute overture sets the table well for the feast to come.
"Choices" introduces the theme of the album: protect the Earth, before it's too late. The opening classic radio excerpts that Unitopia has been famous for adding to the opening of its tracks is back. They are really a great way to introduce a song and Truey always selects an interesting and diverse spectrum of excerpts that fit so well. I think this might have been one of his best.
Then Truey sings, "Choices make the world go round". Yes of course. But the world music surrounding this peace and the eerie stillness of the sound just force us to contemplate our future and meaning of life on the planet even deeper. That underlying Squire - like chunk of bass Daniel Mash is playing has an awesome King Crimson/Yes quality that adds that special touch to the track. Williams guitar is inspired and the solo sax from Marek Arnold is a fortunate treat.
Hopgood, on drums and Arnold on clarinet open the third track, "Intersection" with a cool jazzy spirit. Then Truey returns with powerful vocals, "Hello will you stand in my way. Do you fall?" Do we ascend or fall? A very good question. Truey's warning reminds us of the choice we still have if we choose to exercise it. The keyboards, guitar and sax soloing are excellent. This music reminds me of the intricacy and the powerful design Unitopia used to create such a powerful mix of jazz and progressive rock elements. Irrgang's percussion tingles the ears.
"The Water" is one of the album's powerhouse highlights. Imagine getting to sing with your idol. Well Truey has always been a Jon Anderson on vocals, Yes fan; like many of us. This time he gets to sing with Jon about something that both artists feel strongly about in the world. The drying of the Earth. A powerful driving force uniting two powerful vocal talents...and members of the progressive fraternity…by coincidence. Williams guitar is innovative and a driving force throughout the production.
"Don't Look Back", is loosely based on a story Truey told me about an adventure that occurred to Unitopia accidently on their first tour in Europe. It was a wrong left turn that could have had disastrous effects on one of the first shows of that tour. But as Truey sings in the refrain, "Don't look back…no left turn". You can, as Truey sings, "shout with frustration, it's only direction I seek, in another world where no one understands the language I speak". Any world traveler or adventurer has felt the frustration. But the metaphor can mean oh so much more to one's life. Matthew's guitar and Arnold's clarinet add that perfect old world charm as Hopgood's heartbeat drums and Mash's bass help mimic Truey's heartbeat during the ordeal. Excellent work.
"Travelling Man (The Story of ESHU)" is my favorite track on the album. It is full of a worldwide sound of music and plenty of deep thinking. The story goes far back in time, beyond the famous "Crossroads" sung about by the famous blues singers of the American South. I will not spoil the story. After all you can Google it these days. But listen to the music as you are listening to Truey sing. The assemblage of music on this epic long track is full of the expanse of time and world cultures brought together by this fraternity of progressive artists. Along with Steve Unruh's flute you can hear one of my other favorite highlights of the album Steve Hackett's guitar soloing. That guitar is instantly recognizable. Unruh's violin helps add to the world celebration of this album. As Mark sings, "When will we all re-unite!" Manning's keyboard interlude just before Matt Williams rocking guitar solo is yet another highlight. Steve Unruh's violin solo immediately conjures memories of Charley Daniel's fiddle duel on "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". Everything you can imagine from an epic and more. The wonderful slow guitar solo that accompanies Truey at the end will bring tears almost as full as the ending of Unitopia's "Garden". I will not spoil it by providing the lyrics here. With Claire Vezina accompanying him it helps close one of the best songs of the year.
"Fall in Love with the World" opens with this strange poem by a guest narrator. It is actually yours truly. Yes, Truey invited me to write a short intro poem for the title track. Which was quite an honor. Thanks Truey. The title track is yet another classic highlight of what will truly be the group debut album of the year. This song sums up the weight and power of the message of this album. Enjoy life and this Earth to the best of your ability, but don't take what you don't need, and take good care of what has been given. Williams guitar and Truey's vocals rise to the usually strong levels we all remember from Unitopia. The refrain is perfect, "Fall in love with the world. The world needs to fall in love". It will have you singing along.
"Religion of War" closes the album with yet another powerful lyrical track asking us why faith must always be linked to violence. It is a powerful piece of music as well. Manning's innovative keyboard creations open the track with Truey singing, and Matt Williams and Daniel Mash providing their own guitar innovations. Hopgood's heartbeat drums keep great pace. Truey sings poignantly "It's not what your maker had in mind".
All of the news out of the Middle East and around the globe is a reminder that these battles continue unending. Like a wink back to Genesis' "Blood on the Rooftops", the news continues to distract us from what we were meant to do here on Earth.
If you order the deluxe edition, you will receive an extended version of "The Water" which is well worth the price. More orchestration and more of Matt Williams' excellent acoustic guitar work at the opening along with powerful vocal statements from Truey and Jon will complete this collection.
Ed Unitsky's artwork is over the rainbow great. Ed simply is one of the best artistic interpreters of music on this planet and he outdid himself this time.
Fall in Love with the World will be released on Inside Out Records on November 10th, 2014.
Don't miss this innovative and complete debut for this globally expressive band. For fans that were worried about the breakup of Unitopia…there is no need to worry anymore.
You are part of the fraternity. The fraternity of the world which we all belong to and are meant to enjoy. This is a truly extraordinary debut for a band that will be making major strides in the future.
1. We Only Get One World (Overture) (4:01)
2. Choices (8:32)
3. Intersection (8:58)
4. The Water (5:21)
5. Don't Look Back - Turn Left (5:36)
6. Travelling Man (The Story Of ESHU) (21:41)
7. Fall In Love With The World (4:35)
8. Religion Of War (3:49)
9. The Water (Alternative mix) (5:47)
Added: November 22nd 2014
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: http://unitedprogressivefraternity.com/site/
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|United Progressive Fraternity: Fall in Love with the World
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-11-22 15:03:07
The disintegration of Australia's Unitopia saw us wave goodbye to one of the most recognizable and talented Progressive bands of the modern era, and yet with the formation of United Progressive Fraternity, it almost feels like they never left at all. Leader of this fraternity is Mark Trueck, also a linchpin in Unitopia and that he's chosen to invite, amongst others, Matt Williams (guitar), Dave Hopgood (drums) and Tim Irrgang (percussion), all previously of Unitopia, along to aid his excellent vocals, helps explain the comparison. However this new family also has some grade A-listers to add oomph (and some great performances), Yes legend Jon Anderson adding unmistakable vocals and the utterly resurgent Steve Hackett providing trademark guitar.
Running with a clear theme of changing our attitude to the world, before it's too late (my colleague Mark Johnson does a superb job of expanding on the themes in his review above), what this debut, Fall In Love With The World, very cleverly does is plant memorable little vocal sections into songs and then repeat them to immediately grab the ear. "Intersection" is the first of these, the "How long, how long, how long" refrain irresistible, while the semi-chanting of "Life giving water" and "Cool clean water", in the song unsurprisingly called "The Water" another. Musically there are many references, although none too obviously plumbed, as all eras of Genesis flash past, a touch of mid era Peter Gabriel, a soupçon of Spock's Beard and even some 80s Pop to slap you in the chops. Add in the ever present Yes feel (through the utterly wonderful lead and backing vocals from Anderson – his contributions hit the mark time and time again), the occasional King Crimson tangent and a few colourful The Tangent (well Guy Manning is also involved) left turns, especially in the track "Don't Look Back, Turn Left"!
Upbeat in a worldly wise kind of way, the addition of wind instruments also offers Fall In Love With The World welcome changes of focus, as does Hackett's contribution to "Travelling Man (The Story Of ESHU)", an almost classical/world music/Prog crossover that works extremely well. Again as detailed above, my esteemed colleague, Mr Johnson, does a wonderful job of narrating his own poetic, poignant words to introduce "Fall In Love With The World", the acoustically driven track an album highlight, both in sense of the captivating music and the undeniably important message the lyrics send out.
It has taken a little while to dig deep into the nooks and crannies of what Mark Trueck and his wonderful fraternity have created with this album, initial listens leaving things feeling a little too simple and accessible. Yet, as I've lived with and yes, learned to love this album, more and more little delights have risen to the surface to be savoured. I don't honestly believe that journey has come to an end, and for that reason, I suggest the mark below may, in a few months have an extra half star added. Unitopia fans should rejoice, for United Progressive Fraternity will fill a gaping hole that was born with the demise of that band. Learn To Love The World is hopefully the start of a long and fruitful, yet possibly ever changing, union that will deliver albums to savour and music to love.
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