Many of you might remember the sophomore release from Australia's Unitopia a few years back, called The Garden. It was a strong, melodic prog rock album (their first for InsideOut) that mixed classic sounds with a more modern approach. Well, the band are back with the follow-up, titled Artificial, and it's another doozy that will instantly appeal to prog fans of all ages.
Comprised of one long suite broken down into ten tracks (called 'The Artificial Suite'), the band combine some bubbly keyboards, crunchy guitars, jazzy sax, and Peter Gabriel/Peter Nicholls influenced vocal styles. In fact, the opening two tracks, "Suffocation" and "Artificial World" both evoke Genesis, IQ, and Porcupine Tree, but on "Nothing Lasts Forever" Unitopia clearly show their love for The Beatles in what amounts to a charming piece of proggy pop. The band go for a heavier rock sound on the driving "Not Human Anymore", featuring some gritty guitar work and even some sitar, and dive headfirst into atmospheric prog on "Tesla". This 13 minute epic is an especially moody track, littered with melodic vocals and layer upon layer of keyboards, as well as a cool latin jazz-fusion break towards the end of the piece featuring sax and violin. "Reflections" is a gorgeous little mostly vocal ditty, with some great piano accompaniment, and the closing sections "The Power of 3", "Rule of 3s", "Gone in the Blink of an Eye", and "The Great Reward" allow the band to really take the listener on a ride that includes elements of jazz, prog, and heavy rock. Think of a jam session between IQ, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, and The Tangent, and you get an idea of the lofty heights the band reaches for on these final pieces to the suite. If you get a hold of the digipack version of Artificial you get three bonus tracks, which easily fit in with the style of the regular album and totally worth having.
There's been a lot of strong progressive rock albums released here in 2010, and you can add another one to the list. If you like your prog mixed with sprinklings of jazz, hard rock, and with a nod to the 70's, you can't go wrong with Unitopia's Artificial.
02. Artificial World
03. Nothing Lasts Forever
04. Not Human Anymore
07. The Power Of 3
08. Rule Of 3's
09. Gone In The Blink Of An Eye
10. The Great Reward
11. What Kind Of World?
12. This Time, I think We Got It Right
13. Relative To Me