By: Gaz Cloud
United Progressive Fraternity | website | facebook |
Released on November 10, 2014 via InsideOut Music
Unitopia were one of Australia’s finest progressive bands. Having officially “called it a day”, Mark Trueack and other core members now bring you UPF (United Progressive Fraternity), Mark’s vision being a “band for the people”; a collective concept, a kind of ‘revolving door’, where members who have something they would like to share whether it be musical ideas, or a chance to have musical input, artistic or thoughts and viewpoints on a range of all things whether they be musical, philosophical, theatrical, social/environmental comment, can contribute towards a progressive family, a “Fraternity”. The hyperbole, plus some striking and imaginative cover artwork, help turn the release of Fall In Love With The World into an “event”. The reality is effectively a new star-studded line-up of Unitopia, dedicated as always to Trueack’s peculiar vision.
When those guests include The Tangent’s Guy Manning and legendary former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, this is no bad thing. Trueack’s creative well is evidently overflowing, ensuring that album-defining ‘The Travelling Man’ justifies its 21 minute length! Of course, with so much inspiration about, there’s a tendency for it to boil over into pomposity. If bombast doesn’t put you off, there’s some great musicianship to be found here, with wind duo Marek Arnold and Ian Ritchie’s sultry playing particular highlights.
An exotic middle-eastern feel to some tunes and the music’s weighty tone suggest we’re listening to something important. A shame, then, that the lyrics convey none of the same evocative appeal. ‘Don’t Look Back – Turn Left’ is a neat concept, but much of the remainder of the album appears to be hinting at something just out of sight. Perhaps Trueack’s overarching narrative light was thrown into shadow by the illustrious supporting cast.
The guest stars do align on ‘Water’. Here Yes’ Jon Anderson lends his dulcet tones to a tune that leans towards radio-friendly 80s power prog. The vocal content is as confusing as ever but the hooks are so strong you’re prepared to sing along regardless. The tune’s direct approach packs a mighty punch and it so longs to be played again that the extended mix that closes the album is a welcome addition to the package. UPF is a great musical testament to the member’s talents. It’s a shame that such wonderfully imaginative music is often led astray by meandering, hard to decipher lyrical content.