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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Music Review: Renaissance – ‘Symphony of Light’

When I interviewed Annie Haslam for the Sept. 25, 2012 edition of online radio’s Dave White Presents, the singer told me she had been very reluctant to reform Renaissance in 2011. For one thing, she was happy with her solo career. For another, the history of Renaissance’s ever-changing line-ups and the old need to work with orchestras made touring a daunting challenge. But guitarist, principal songwriter, and original member Michael Dunford convinced her the band should do something for their 40th anniversary. After Haslam agreed, the new ensemble released Renaissance Tour 2011 – Turn of the Cards and Scheherazade & Other Stories Live In Concert. Tragically, two months after my interview with Haslam, Dunford died on November 20, 2012.
renaissanceBefore his passing, Dunford and Haslam crafted the songs that appeared on Renaissance’s next studio album, their first in over a decade, 2013′sGrandine ll Vinto, an album dedicated to Dunford. As that album didn’t get much traction, this year Renaissance re-issued exactly the same album, this time naming it Symphony of Light and adding three bonus tracks, hoping Red River Entertainment could do a better job with distribution . Two of these new songs, “Tonight” and “Immortal Beloved” appeared on the EP titled The Mystic and the Muse, and the closer, “Renaissance Man,” is Haslam’s homage to her late partner. It’s fine to add these numbers to the Renaissance catalogue, but the name change obviously has led to confusion among longtime fans.
Whether you listen to Grandine ll Vinto or Symphony of Light, you’re hearing the finest Renaissance release since their glory days of the ’70s. For one matter, Haslam’s five-octave vocal range has lost nothing over the years. Her voice is even more precise and controlled than Turn of the Cards or Prologue days, and she can still sustain those crystalline high notes.
For another, there are only two lengthy epics on the album. The album’s longest track is the 12-minute “Symphony of Light” which introduced the colorful and gentle themes of the set. As most of the other offerings are about five minutes or so, we get a rich variety of tones and melodies that keep the program fresh as we move through the musical and lyrical imagery, much of it involving water and light.
Still Life
CD - £7.99

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