17 January, 2016
Unified Past - Peace Remains In This World
Progressive rock turned out to be a fertile ground that has been developing successfully for the last 40 years. While older listeners started their sonic journey from lengthy and serious compositions by ELP, Genesis, King Crimson or Pink Floyd in the 70s, and their successors danced to the 80s music by Yes, Jadis, Rush, Marillion or Asia, fans of the genre nowadays enjoy an amazing spectrum of new bands to choose from, not just traditionally coming from UK or USA, but virtually every corner of the world. Moreover, a significant subgenre of 'prog' - progressive metal - revitalized the metal scene. However, writing such music demands a lot from musicians - they simply must be really pro(g? ;-)) about composing, performing, collaborating (which usually includes a lot of improvising, writing/reading musical notation, studying music theory etc.) because time signature is what progressive rock loves. If the time signature is put in a wrong spot, the joy of listening is pretty much over, unless you prefer to enjoy experimental sounds.
Based in New York, Unified Past has been continuously taking the progressive rock scene by storm since 1999, and accelerating their ascent every year. The 'Peace Remains In This World' single comes from their newest, 7th album titled Shifting the Equilibrium (2015). A chance listener doesn't have to be a die-hard fan of prog to feel the track's vibe resonating within their body, since the song has loads of unquestionable depth, juiciness and spirit.
The songs' intro sounds typical for the genre thanks to the cold virtuosity of Stephen Speelman's keyboard work, but what follows are heavier, modern guitars and a spacious drum sound. When the bass shifts to down-tuned notes, the keyboards continue their lively leitmotif. Dave Mickelson uses the lowest notes on the bass at times, literally dragging the balance 'down', especially when compared to keyboards and vocals (which, in turn, stretch the composition 'upwards').
The chorus brings an excitedly-sounding keyboard arrangement, making your ear focus on that instrument, though it does take a second row seat in favour of vocals and bass at perfectly chosen moments. Victor Tassone provides masterful drumming, produced to stay in the middle of other instruments, providing the composition with a solid backbone. All arrangements repeat and yet remain spirited until the very end of the track.
Phil Naro's voice is quite high (but not as high as that of Jon Anderson's of Yes fame) and sounds very upbeat, both attributes making it characteristic. Interestingly, the top vocal part makes for a separate melodic line at times, and is perfectly supported by the instrumental melody in the background.
Overall, the composition (spanning seven minutes) is open and includes many matching variations - imagine spirals spinning inside spirals. It sounds as if all instruments were biting the composition from every possible direction - at times simultaneously, then letting only one of them feed. This means that every musician got enough of space to showcase his skills. Therefore, peace and balance kept far from boredom remain present throughout the entire track and engage your attention along with dynamical, intersecting instrumentation. The arrangements oscillate between cold and warm vibes, and the tempo and time signature change pretty often. Such contrasts along with memorable melodies are always a turn-on for any sensitive ear and stimulate brain waves a lot, too.
Finally, the song's subject is a peaceful reminder about keeping serenity in the world through refreshing the values that once used to matter, such as authentic spirituality ("Time to go inside") and kindness. Making peace and not war or money is humanity's goal - our lives are very short when perceived through a broader, time-related perspective. Therefore, it's pointless to waste all that precious time on provoking one another, leading to easily predictable results.
Thanks to such a mindful theme and non-aggressive (yet lively) music, many listeners will certainly get hooked on 'Peace Remains In This World'. Undoubtedly, the song sounds huge when performed live on the stage, so make sure you buy a ticket (and the album too) when you learn that Unified Past goes on tour.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, January 15th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
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Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine