Concept-album, Symphonic
"Collant avec grande précision à l'univers d'Unitopia, UPF livre un album d'un bel éclectisme, sans toutefois atteindre la dimension mythique de son modèle."
ABADDON (24.06.2019)  
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The splits of the mythical bands always raise the same questions among the fans: will the spirit of the disappeared band reappear in the new contributions of the separate members, and above all, who was the soul holder of the band? The Beatles, was it Lennon or McCartney? Pink Floyd, Waters or Gilmour? Was Gabriel essential to Genesis' alchemy? Will Supertramp survive Roger Hodgson's departure? Unitopia is no exception to the rule: the Australian band has left its mark on the progressive with world and symphonic resonances in just three original albums and its separation has had the effect of a thunderbolt.

Since then, two entities have emerged, the Southern Empire of keyboardist Sean Timms and the United Progressive Fraternity project led by singer Mark Trueack, which brought with it almost all of the Unity band. In mid-2019, UPF releases its third album, "Planetary Overload: Loss to Lost", which, as the subtitle suggests, is based on a strong ecological message.

The tone of the album remains quite in line with the previous opuses, Mark Trueak and his formation sticking quite closely to the Unitopia form, with an inflection linked to the arrival of the violinist Steve Unruh (Resistor, Samurai of Prog), whose contribution is prevalent on many tracks, looking towards the Kansas style ('Mercenaries') ! In the middle of a plethoric line-up (47 participants!) is Steve Hackett (the acoustic solos of "Seeds for Life") and his keyboardist Nick Magnus. The world sensitivity is once again very present, from the sound of sitar in 'Loss Anthem' or 'Loss to Lost', to the use of oud and bouzouki; this rich orchestration is completed by numerous orchestral passages and the ensemble, associated with a production that is both deep and precise, brings a very appreciable dimension.

The least we can say is that the album is wide ranging from the intimate ballad (the beginning of 'Cruel Times' or 'What if' and 'One More', both nice), to the tribal track highlighted by ethnic percussion ('What Are We Doing to Ourselves', funny but minor), to the atmospheric piece (the second part of 'Forgive Me, My Son', which unfortunately hardly takes off), passing through rather jazzy segments without forgetting straightforward symphonic parts ('Cruel Times'). This eclecticism is pleasing to hear but gives a somewhat disjointed impression, like a "Mercenaries" where we seek musical coherence despite skillfully linked parts, like the epic "Seeds For Life", a beautiful 19-minute roller coaster patchwork, with its extraordinary opening part (after an unnecessary 2:20 intro that looks like Albedo 0.39 by Vangelis!) which gives the best passage of the album: we find here the breath of Unitopia's compositions, the alliance of inventive percussions, the symphonic dimension and the little guitar touch more tense in the background: grandiose! "Stop Time" is the most delightful track on the album, full of arrangement details and with a very fun rhythm. The instrumental part is a slow atmospheric ascent very well conducted, rather scary, delivering an perfect end.

In the "war of succession" against Sean Timms, Mark Trueack is always one step ahead: he releases his albums before his accomplice's, and naturally has with his voice an extremely powerful marker for Unitopia fans. With his very particular timbre, his ease in moving from a soft register to a vindictive expression and an incredibly precise diction, he obviously has an exceptional instrument. Moreover, UPF's instrumental orientation carefully seeks to reproduce the unitopian colors (unlike Sean Timms, who has taken a more rock band orientation with Southern Empire): "Mercenaries" refers directly to the "When I'm Down" of "The Garden" and his guitar solo strongly recalls that of "Angelica" of the same album, the symphonic and jazzy piano parts are one of Sean Timms' trademarks, there are references to "Slow Down" in "Cruel Times", etc. The boundaries are blurred all the more since in an interview just before the split, Sean and Mark said optimistically that they had material for several upcoming Unitopia albums, material that we find in the productions of both bands.

But it doesn't matter who is the best at the succession's little game: with this third album, UPF gives us once again a beautiful gift that will satisfy fans of an eclectic progressive, without reaching the alchemy of Unitopia. As if that were not enough, what makes large bands successful is this unique complicity that creates osmosis.

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01. Phase I: Dawning On Us - Loss (Anthem)
02. Phase I: Dawning On Us - What Happens Now
03. Phase I: Dawning On Us - Cruel Times
04. Phase I: Dawning On Us - What Are We Doing To Ourselves
05. Phase II: Destraction And Destruction - Stop-Time
06. Phase II: Destraction And Destruction - One More
07. Phase II: Destraction And Destruction - Mercinaries
08. Phase II: Destraction And Destruction - What If
09. Phase II: Destraction And Destruction - Forgive Me, My Son
10. Phase III: Growing - Dying To Be Reborn
11. Phase III: Growing - Seeds For Life
12. Phase III: Growing - Loss To Lost

Christophe Lebled: Claviers
Cornel Wilczek: Guitares / Claviers
Daniel Mash: Basse
Joe Toscano: Batterie / Choeurs
Marek Arnold: Saxophone
Mark Franco: Basse / Choeurs
Mark Trueack: Chant
Matthew Atherton: Guitares / Claviers / Choeurs
Steve Unruh: Chant / Guitares / Violon / Flûte
Alanna Mitchell: Invité / Narration (6)
Angelo Racz: Invité / Claviers (3)
Angus Keay: Guitares / Invité
Brendon Darby: Invité / Trompette
Charlie Cawood: Invité / Oud / Bouzouki / Dulcimer
Claire Vezina: Invité / Choeurs
Clive Hodson: Invité / Saxophone / Trombone / Trompette / Hautbois
Colin Edwin: Basse / Invité
David Hopgood: Invité / Batterie (7)
David Suzuki: Invité / Narration (7)
Dr. Cary Fowler: Invité / Introduction (11)
Dr. James E. Hansen: Invité / Narration (1,2)
Dr. Jane Goodall: Invité / Narration (1,10)
Ettore Salati: Invité / Guitare (3)
George Perdikis: Guitares / Invité
Ghost Girls: Invité / Voix Fantomatiques (9)
Grace Bawden: Chant / Invité / Choeurs
Guillermo Cides: Invité / Chapman Stick
Hans Jorg Schmitz: Batterie / Invité
Hasse Fröberg: Chant / Invité
James Lovelock: Invité / Narration (8)
Jerry Marotta: Batterie / Invité
Jesus Gancedo Garcia: Batterie / Invité
Jon Davison: Invité / Choeurs
Lisa Wetton: Batterie / Invité / Choeurs
Little Brodie Byrne: Invité / Voix (9)
Marc Papeghin: Invité / Cor
Mark Maslin: Invité / Narration (1,7)
Matt Williams: Guitares / Invité
Michel St-père: Guitares / Invité
Michelle Young: Chant / Invité
Nick Magnus: Claviers / Invité
Phill Sokha: Batterie / Invité
Raf Azaria: Guitares / Basse / Invité / Piano / Violon / Mandoline / Accordéon
Satish Kumar: Invité / Narration (1)
Sir David Attenborough: Invité / Narration (1,5)
Steve Hackett: Invité / Guitare Acoustique
Valentin Halembakov: Guitares / Invité
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