“More Than A Dream”, the debut album of the Australian band Unitopia was originally released as an independent release in the year 2005. A year later the Canadian label Unicorn Digital released the album worldwide. This month the band released a 3 CD box set of that same album on the Giant Electric Pea label. The first CD includes a remastered version of the original album with some bonus tracks. The second disc exists out of Remixes & Re-workings of that same album. The third disc is especially interested for collectors of the band’s work who missed the band’s contributions to the “The Stories of H.P. Lovecraft” and “Decameron - Ten Days in 100 Novellas Pt. 2” projects. This first album of the the band from down under failed to reach a big audience in the year 2005. But this changed after the release of their second album “The Garden”. This double album was also my introduction to the band. I remember a great gig in a small cafe in my hometown Apeldoorn, The Netherlands. The band impressed the audience by skillfully played epic songs and the unique voice of singer Mark Trueack reached the hearts of the spectators. It was a remarkable gig.
Sean Timms - keyboards, Prophet 5, Hammond C3, Steinway Grand Piano, Minimoog, programming, percussion, mandolin, banjo, backing vocals; Mark Trueack - lead & backing vocals, Ian Politis - backing vocals; Pat Schirripa - electric & acoustic guitars; Paul Fisher - guitar; Steve Portolesi - bass; Kevin Sugars - drums; Robbie Chenoweth - trumpet; Mike Stewart - Tenor & Soprano Saxophone; Nick Mulder - Trombone; Neusa Georgiou - backing vocals; Matt Wever - electric guitars, backing vocals; Con Delo - bass; Brad Polain - drums; Holly Trueack - child soprano; Jacqui Walkden - cello; Craig James - electric guitar; Adelaide Art Orchestra cond. by Timothy Sexton; Callum Campbell - backing vocals; Rod Ennius - French Horn, Flugelhorn Horn, trumpet, Brass arrangement; Kris Guglielmucci - acoustic & electric guitars; Steve Todd - percussion
As I told you already in my introduction, disc one contains the re-mastered album. The re-mastering is done by Sean Timms and Matt Williams. Together with singer Mark Trueack these three musicians are the driving force behind this album.
Disc one is opening with two nice opening tracks that are between the four and five minutes long. “Common Goal” is starting with nice keyboard orchestrations and a nice Mellotron part. It shows the influences of the prog of the seventies. The unique voice of Mark Trueack complements the sound of the band. The second track is called “Fate”. In this song African percussion is combined with a jazzy sax and a fretless bass. You can find strong vocal melodies in this track. After these fine tracks it is time for the longest track of the original album. With almost thirteen minutes “Justify” is the first epic of Unitopia. It is a diverse track with strong vocal harmonies and a wonderful cello solo played by Jacqui Walkden. But you can also find some jazz influences in this track. Aggressive guitar parts, a Hammond C3 solo, an acoustic guitar part and beautiful vocal lines, this track has it all. The part with the cello and the child soprano part sung by Mark’s daughter Holly is very nice. Definitely one of my favorite songs of this album.
“Take Good Care” is also a remarkable song. It features the Adelaide Art Orchestra conducted by Timothy Sexton performing the opening orchestral prelude. This is followed by some African influences that reminds me of the Cinematic music that David Arkenstone is making. A beautiful song with well looked after vocal parts. But this counts for the whole album. After the short track “Ride” you can enjoy another highlight, the title track “More Than A Dream”. It also features the Adelaide Art Orchestra. The combination with the acoustic guitar and the Steinway Grand is great. And you can find lovely vocal melodies in this highlight. Talking about highlights, the following song “Slow Down” is my favorite track of this album. It has a beautiful slow opening with delicate sung vocals. Singer Mark Trueack shines in this amazing track. I just love the classical orchestrations by the Adelaide Art Orchestra and the tasteful use of the narrative sound samples. The ending is also very strong.
“ Lives Go Round” is one the earliest songs and features the late Kris Guglielmucci on electric and acoustic guitars. You can find some lovely synth parts in this fine tune. The last official song of the album is called “Still Here” and includes some lovely soprano sax parts played by Mike Stewart. Disc one includes also two bonus tracks. “Unitopia” is an uptempo tune with some pop influences and has a fine horn arrangement. At the time it was decided to not include this song because it didn’t fit with the rest of the album. “There’s A Place” has the same kind of feel as“ Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel. The lead vocal part of Neusa Georgiou is beautiful. Both bonus tracks are fine songs but they don’t fit with the rest of the album. So at that time it was a wise decision to not include them on the original release.
Disc two features 70 minutes of remixes and re-workings of the album tracks. When Unitopia originally decided to re-release “More Than a Dream”, it was going to be a double CD with the first CD as is and the second with Matt’s re-imaginings Of the original songs. But the band never quite got there with all nine tracks. Now you can find Re-Work tracks by Matt and Sean, an original demo and some remixes on the disc. It is interesting but the original album is very strong. So personally I prefer to listen to the first disc.
For me disc three is more interesting. Not because of the Dance Mixes (?) and the unreleased demo’s but because the disc includes a new song entitled “The Dream Complete” and you can find the long tracks “The Outsider” (11:52) and “Decameron, Day 6, Tale 9” (20:06) on this disc. “The Outsider” was originally released on “The Stories Of H.P. Lovecraft: A SyNphonic Collection”. “The Decameron, Day 6, Tale 9” was originally released on “Decameron: Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part II”. For people like me who don’t have a copy of those mentioned albums, this is a very valuable addition.
“More Than a Dream - The Dream Complete” is a Deluxe 3 CD package of Unitopia’s debut album. With two additional discs with nearly two and a half hours of extras this box with new artwork from Ed Unitsky is a real bargain. With this release, Unitopia’s debut album finally gets the score it deserves. The album is very strong and I love the classical influences and the strong and unique voice of Mark Trueack. But musically speaking the driving force behind this album is of course composer Sean Timms. If you missed the debut album of Unitopia this re-release is a valuable addition to your prog collection.