Under A Glass Moon
(All Album Reviews by Under A Glass Moon)
Have you ever seen a trailer for a movie and thought to yourself, “Wow, this movie looks incredible!”? Then, when you actually went and saw the movie, you realized that all the good parts were shown in the trailer! This is the feeling I get with the offering from Mike Florio’s Arisen. When I was first researching this disc, I listened to a few short samples on the Internet and thought, “Wow, this sounds pretty good, I want to hear more.” Unfortunately, most of the good stuff was in the samples I had already heard.
Now maybe my analogy may seem a bit too harsh, and in hindsight, it may be a bit, but Arisen, Florio’s first official release, hasn’t really been a grower with repeated listens either. That said I have found more to enjoy each time I have listened and have found the underlying problem as to why most of this disc turns me off, the lyrics.
Writing thought provoking meaningful lyrics is no easy task, or even lyrics that won’t cause the listener to scoff, but Florio has done neither and that is what really turns me off to the songs that are presented. An example being the best song musically on the disc, “Binary World”, which sonically is excellent, especially Florio’s synth work, lyrically though it is very hard to tolerate. Take the chorus for example, with such thought provoking lines such as,
“Binary World, glossy new effects
Binary World, quantize and perfect
Binary World, synthetic energy
Binary World, sampled harmony”
This theme continues for the majority of the album, however, not all is lost. The music presented here is decent and the arrangements are pleasing to the ear. Most of the album reminds me of mid 80’s Kansas without the guitar work of Steve Morse. Lost of catchy synth lines, wrapped around somewhat complex arrangements, make for a halfway decent listening experience. Now some may see me reference mid 80’s Kansas and be turned off right away, but for those who do enjoy those albums in that era, Florio’s work is similar. His vocals are also good, rare for a lot of progressive music made today. Overall, Arisen is fairly decent musically and pretty horrid lyrically. Florio does mention that most of his future compositions will be purely instrumental, that may be a good decision.
Every once in a while something new comes around for us prog freaks to enjoy. Now in this occasion new, is not as such groundbreaking, but it is new in the sense of refreshing and very well composed and delivered. Arisen is the brainchild of Mike Florio, vocals, keyboard deluxe and composer of these fine tunes. And I must say I’m pleasantly surprised with the superb songs (and singing) that this album has to offer. Also, I must mention the 3 fabulous “partners in crime” Bill Thomas: guitar, Dave Bailey: bass, Steve Golden: drums, for they are supreme in every tune, backing up Mike.
I’m so glad that Mike (himself) approached me, otherwise I may not have heard of him before it was “too late”. By that I mean that this guy is one prog artist that we certainly will be hearing more of, no doubt about it! And I like to be up to date. He delivers a fine voice and some superb key play. And this album deserves to be in many a collection for prog fans that like their music beautiful and well constructed.
Try out: “Bells for1827” with the church-like intro and then Bill Thomas´ guitar shines, Mike´s voice breaks into the theme (not unlike an Ambrosia – theme...and that’s a superlative!) Mike´s beautiful voice sometimes reminds me of Todd Rundgren’s and at other times that of Saga´s singer (Michael Sadler) but mostly he sounds like Mike and thats a good thing!
I think that Arisen is a very well played, extremely well composed album! “Paradise of stone” is a great example of the music delivery I mentioned earlier. Everyone into fine prog/art rock deserves to hear this great album. It’s filled with superb music.
I simply have to give it top rating!! Hey you guys (Mike especially) this is top notch
progressive/art rock music!! The production is superb, with every instrument and voice clear in the overall picture, and nicely balanced too.
Isn’t it great, that good surprises often come unexpected and from new (at least to me) artists, This surprise will stay in my CD player for a long time, that’s for sure. For every time I hear this gem something new pops up on my prog radar. So dear prog/art rock fan go on, spoil yourself buy this album. It might prove to be the best present, you gave yourself this year!
Warning! There are no growling, no speed metal guitars on this album, just beautiful music!