Time to usher in the next generation of canterbury musicians. Gentlemen,
Volare has landed. These guys look like they just busted out of high school.
Very young, very talented. I was quite impressed with the style they play,
which is basically like National Health or Happy The Man with a touch of
Caravan. All the finest that style could ever offer. And these guys have
a lot of years ahead of them. Maybe I won't weep for the future....just
Laser's Edge LE 1028,1997 CD)
Progressive, anyone? This is the real thing. Last year's five song demo tape certainly offered a lot of promise, but who would've thought that in less than a year the band would come up with something this strong. It's all here power, melody, finesse, emotion, spirt. And did I mention chops? 100% instrumental, the band is a four piece now drums, bass & sax, guitar, and keys -apparently the cellist who was with them on the demo has split, but the band seems to be even tighter in the smaller configuration, with each member offering equal amounts of fire, coloration, and rhythm to the overall effort. A strong jazz and Canterbury ethic is at work throughout, and if one had to compare Volare' to anyone, National Health, Kenso, and Happy The Man would all be at the top of the list, perhaps some ECM artists tOO; yet Volare' has their own voice, rooted in the strength and complexity of their compositions and fortified by their sheer playing skill. Each piece develops along its own path, constantly growing and changing, finding new patterns and themes to develop and carry forward. One can hear the emotional content and technical precision playing off one another as pieces grow and unfold. Occasionally a piece will wander off course into self-indulgent territory, but not for long. Frankly, it's hard to imagine anyone not liking this. I'm sure this one will be in the top-ten list of about ten Expose' writers next spring.
One could dismiss my enthusiasm for this disc as either a biased plug for a hometown Athens, GA band, or the inevitable consequence of my having reviewed so many amorphous, obtuse, experimental releases throughout the remainder of this issue. But that would be ignoring the considerable merits of one of the best releases of the year and one of the best debuts in an even longer time. Volare' dish out some truly tasty Canterbury-tinged complex instrumental prog. A quartet of guitar, keyboards, bass & sax, and drums with an abundance of original and captivating musical ideas, this band at times evokes with haunting authenticity the best of Hatield and the North, early Muffins, and National Health. "The Uncertainty Principle" is an album full of invigoratingly imaginative themes inflected with well developed subtlety and nuance. A full arsenal of classic analog keyboards along with carefully chosen guitar tones imparts a "lost classic" quality to the sound. This, combined with the harmonically sophisticated writing and occasional jazzy tendencies, might suggest a previously unreleased '705 Canterbury gem. But a distinct freshness in the top-notch performances and a discerning stylistic open-mindedness clearly point to the youth of this work. Each of the ten pieces here segues organically through a healthy assortment of complementary musical ideas with confidence and finesse. The sometimes quirky, always intelligent and intricate compositions are laced with original chord progressions, boldly varied textures, and dramatic dynamics. There is so much here to like, it takes several listens just to begin to absorb all the fine detail. Much as Anglagard did a few years back, Volare' have created something magnificent which, through impressive musical maturity and considerable stylistic awareness, is able not only to move forward but also to delve back into prog history without seeming the least bit stale. This is the type of release that reaffirms the potential of progressive rock, and one most any prog fan should thoroughly enjoy.
Magazine, Issue No. 14, Winter 1998
Volare: The Uncertainty Principle (1997; The Laser's Edge LE 1028) 62m
Hailing from Georgia here in the States, Volare plays decidedly un-American Progressive Rock. Sort of. Volare's demo tape was widely hailed among the cognescenti of Canterbury styled music. But, that Canterbury prog ala Soft Machine is madly influenced by American Jazz means Volare has come full circle. A quartet, Volare consists of Patrick Stawser (piano, Fender Rhodes,mellotron, organ, Mini-Moog, a variety of digital synths), Steve Hatch (electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin, lightsaber), Richard M. Kesler (bass and sax) and Brian Donohoe (drums and percussion). The Uncertainty Principle was produced by Fred Schendel and Steve Babb (both of Glass Hammer, Babb also of Wyzards). Like all Laser's Edge releases, the CD was mastered for CD by Bob Katz who always creates top-notch digital sound. Although Volare have been categorically lumped into the Canterbury vein of Prog, to my ears they sound jazz influenced first, Prog influenced second. "Vespers" is just one number of several that is quite a bit jazzier than most Canterbury bands, including Soft Machine. On occasion, the Moog work sounds more influenced by Keith Emerson that by Mike Ratledge or Alan Gowen. One example is a Moog line in "Caught in a Combine," the albums opener. Another is the wickedly cool synth work near the end of "Blitz," a real delight in headphones or filling the room at full volume! Conversely, the liquid line in "Abcircus" that would fit very comfortably on a Gilgamesh album. Other key passages distinguish Volare. The complex sections of "...In Two Seconds Time..." and "Abcircus" have an almost Muffinish/RIO bent. "Abcircus" is a study in contrasts. Dissonant guitar is juxtaposed against sweetly melodic Fender Rhodes. Angular guitar punctuates the above mentioned mellow Moog lines. Hatch's guitar work in sections of "...(Incomplete, Broken, and Abstract)" and "Blitz" has a sort of early Brand X feel to it. "Black and White" is quite a heavy number with crunchy rhythm guitar, chunky organ and searing synth, a sort of "pull no punches" closing track. Yet, regardless of which song is emanating from the jukebox, a jazz vibe permeates strongly throughout all tracks. Some fine sax blows from Kesler helps to ensure some degree of validity to the Canterbury comparisons. Suffice
it to say that "The Uncertainty Principle" has many deep layers waiting to be penetrated by the inquisitive listener. One of the best releases I've heard for 1997 and very highly recommended.
From: Robert Bennett firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Lost Hatfield and the North Sessions?
Hello fellow Rattlers,
It has been a very busy season in terms of digesting new Canterbury
material! I have to mention especially the CD I received by "Volare".
Volare are a quartet from Georgia, USA that
sound like they have been
directly injected with the souls of folks like our Phil Miller, Alan Gowen,
various Muffins et al. It is a delight to hear compositions played in the
"Hatfield" style with great skill and sensitivity. In some ways the playing
is more consistent than many National Health tunes (I know, this is
I've been waiting for this one. I discovered Volare' last year after
reading some positive reviews about their performance at a music festival
in Kentucky. I sent for their demo cassette and was impressed with the
bands' Canterbury and classic progressive influenced instrumental music.
Seeing them at ProgDay this year confirmed my suspicion that the band would
be a live smoker. And now... their first full-length CD.
Volare' is a four piece consisting of guitar, bass, sax, drums, and a list of keyboards longer than your arm. The music on The Uncertainty Principle is at its core Canterbury influenced. However, added to the mix are strong elements of 70's fusion, Happy The Man, and classic progressive.
The songs, while not flashy, are very busy... there's a lot going on here. The music holds the listener's attention with wonderful melodies, and a variety of sounds from the instruments. The guitarist alternates between a clean jazzy sound and a heavier fuzz guitar. There are even times when the two styles appear in single songs and it
works well. The keyboardist would probably be comfortable in any setting from straight jazz to straight prog. I know nothing about musical equipment but if I got a nickel for every keyboard sound on this disc... well you get the idea. While we're speaking of variety I should also mention that at ProgDay members of Volare' filled in quite comfortably for missing members of French TV and Glass Hammer during those bands' performances.
Musically one of the bands' strengths, and is certainly part of their style, is the ability to seamlessly change tempo from fairly hard driving instrumentation to mellow, subtle passages. And then right back into a jam. These quiet parts, unfortunately, lost something in the outdoor live setting at ProgDay, which I now realize after having listened to this disc about a dozen times now. I'd really like to see them performing in a small club.
As far as great instrumental music goes this is my favorite so far for ‘97. If you're a Canterbury fan its a must. If you're a Laser's Edge fan then I'd say if you like A Triggering Myth you're sure to like this. If you're a classic prog fan who wants a little instrumental adventure I think there's enough here to satisfy you. If you're a jazz fan who's reading this news group then waste no time in seeking out this CD.
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