Salem Hill - Mimi's Magic Moment


Year of Release: 2006
Label: ProgRock Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:41:00

When during the vinyl age a band would have released seven albums, they would be known all around the world, selling millions of albums and outselling huge stadiums. Believe it or not but Salem Hill has released seven albums (eight when you include the double live package Puppet Show, which is sold out), with their brand-new Mimi's Magic Moment. The question is: who knows them? Who has their albums? How much do they feature on the radio? Do they get media coverage? Are they able to tour around the world? Can they spend lots of money in the studio? The answer sadly has to be negative time after time, although if you compare the band's output with that of a lot of million sellers then for sure Salem Hill albums should be found in every single record collection around the globe!

When I listened to this album for the very first time I popped it into my car stereo, so without any information at hand, all I could do was listen to the music without the slightest prejudice. When I heard the first notes of the opening track "The Joy Gem," I thought I had put a Kansas album in by mistake. As I was driving, there was no way to verify this so I kept listening. Then at one given time I thought I recognized the voice of Neal Morse. For sure more people can have a similar sound, but Morse is quite distinctive so this would be a real coincidence. The lengthy track offered everything I wish for in progressive rock, being both melodic as well as technical, a combination that in most cases is missing from the end product. As soon as I got home, I went to look for the CD booklet in order to see what was going on. I wasn't mistaken at all, for none other than David Ragsdale as well as Neal Morse guest on this track. No doubt the band themselves already offer an ingenious and sumptuous track, but adding these two geniuses to the whole simply lifts it towards yet an even higher level. Also Glass Hammer's Fred Schendel as well as Avalon's Randy George step in, making this a wonderful album throughout, filled with tons of craftsmanship and labour of love.

Mimi's Magic Moment is in fact a concept album based around birth, which is seen as a magical moment, as an opportunity to create whether it be a child, a piece of artwork, the spark of a friendship or the unity of a team. For sure the unity of the four Salem Hill members is magical. Not only what the musical contents is concerned nor their technical abilities, but the magic lies in the fact that they have kept believing in the potential of their united creative spirits, for it has taken them several albums before they reached this spot. Already Be was a huge step forward, as I'm a great believer in the "more with less" attitude and Be was just that. In fact it looks like since the band's move to ProgRock Records they have re-invented themselves, making a huge step forward on the international prog ladder to success.

After the fifteen minute long epic which perfectly opens this album, Salem Hill slightly slows down with the more acoustic and more commercial and predictable "All Fall Down." As this is the kind of music which launched Styx into superstardom, an edited version of this would be ideal for daytime radio as it's also more AOR than pure prog. If they leave out the bit which sounds like Cast (although displaying some wonderful flute and guitar interplay), they'd have the perfect three minute song. "Stolen By Ghosts" contains some nifty organ, reinforcing the rhythm which obliges Ragsdale to deliver some tasty violin. The overall atmosphere however is calm and soothing with nice vocals being backed with subtle piano, until the drums steer the song into a more rhythmic phase with ace drumming backing a duel between electric guitar and violin. Surely a plus in the Salem Hill household is the fact that all four members are singers, too, which results in a much fuller sound and also in more variation.

With only four tracks on the album (with three clocking in at over fifteen, eighteen and even twentyone minutes!), we come to the closing section of this splendid album with "The Future Me." The intro sounds a little like California Guitar Trio or Philharmonie with a repetitive pattern. It most certainly is more prog with once again some incredible drumming and nice guitar and keyboard interventions. When the rhythm stops the main theme is woven inside an acoustic section which has the vocals follow the same melody. The song also contains a piano solo by Glass Hammer's Fred Schendel, adding a jazzy element to the whole. Throughout several changes the main melody creeps up again adding a recognizable element uniting the totality of the song. As in "The Joy Gem," "The Future Me" also contains the vocals of the young Alyssa Hendrix which gives it a certain innocence and freshness. The epic ends in a majestic way, putting a full stop behind not only Salem Hill's absolutely best album ever but also one of the strong contenders of "album of the year" in the new millennium's first decade!

If you haven't been in touch with progressive rock since the seventies, then Salem Hill undoubtedly is the perfect link to step from one century into the other, as if nothing has changed except for the total quality of recording. All I can ask of the band is to make sure their passports are OK so they can come and tour Europe fairly soon. With material from seven albums to chose from I'm sure no one will get bored!


Tracklisting:
The Joy Gem (15:04) / All Fall Down (7:14) / Stolen By Ghosts (21:30) / The Future Me (18:53)

Musicians:
Michael Dearing - vocals, guitars, occasional keyboards
Carl Groves - vocals, guitars, piano, keys
Patrick Henry - vocals, 4- and 12-string bass
Kevin Thomas - vocals, drums, acoustic & electric mallets

Guests:

David Ragsdale - violin
Neal Morse - vocals
Alyssa Hendrix - vocals
Jeff Eacho - flute
Fred Schendel - piano solo
Randy George - guitar, keyboards

Discography:
Salem Hill (1992)
Different Worlds (1993)
Catatonia (1997)
The Robbery Of Murder (1998)
Not Everybody?s Gold (2000)
Puppet Show (2003)
Be (2003)
Mimi's Magic Moment (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: May 8th 2006
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.salemhill.com
Hits: 1086
Language: english

  

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