This is a very curious prog-AOR album that contains the best of both styles; namely, that catchy sound we could find in good american AOR of mid 70´s and early 80´s (Boston, Journey, Toto) and varied instrumentation that enhances the final product with lots of good taste.
I haven´t heard about Cannata until this album. The band rotates around the multi-instrumentalist Jeff Cannata (drums, vocals, synths, guitars) helped by lots of guests musicians (flutes, keyboards, guitars, sax, piano, woodwinds) and, in a couple of tracks, by James Christian, a vocalist who –if my memory doesn't fail- was the the lead vocalist of the successful Greg Giuffria´s House of Lords.
As it´s usual in this kind of albums, the sound is impeccable and worthy of being listened with headphones. The artwork shows us a pharaoh chamber with a sarcophagus in the cover, and a camel´s caravan in the backcover (similar to “Rajaz”). Apparently this is a conceptual album about spirituality and all those things that progheads enjoy with.
The first track “Tamorok” (6:16) is an nice and elegant AOR track that all new Asia fans will love (this song is better than the whole Payne´s discography but the atmosphere is similar). In the middle of the track the atmosphere changes and quickly we listen to a great instrumental track with arabic airs, multicolored percussions, and flutes, ending with a vocal part that reminds to Yes (“Big Generator” era).
The rest of the songs have also that intelligent balance of instrumental virtuosity and song oriented melodies. I admit that AOR is an out of fashion genre, but really there were great AOR bands in the past with a high skill and A level musicians.
We can also find inside “Tamorok” some progressive moments (guitars a la Howe, “Generator” arrangements) and full songs (the seven minutes of “Big Life” with a delicious ending piano; the Yes-ish “When it´s love” (4:38), one of the best AOR songs I´ve listened to in years; or the amazing “Stars (2001)” (5:35)). Fourteen AOR tracks are difficult to review.
This album gave me back the hope for a deadly wounded style. If you enjoy with classic AOR, Asia, Yes (Rabin era), and bands of “elegant” pop such as Mr. Mister, I´m convinced you´ll love this album. I know that many of progVisions readers don´t listen only to progressive rock, so this album is recommended for them. But if you´re fans of risky music or classic progressive rock, forget this review.