Aragon - The Calm Before The Storm: Rocking Horse Act 3 (single),
Some 30 years ago I heard one of the most amazing prog albums I had ever come across, ‘Don’t Bring The Rain’ by Aragon. At the time I bemoaned the fact they were Australian and unlikely to get the success or critical acclaim they so richly deserved and that proved to be the case, with the band breaking up after their sixth album in 2004. There are few albums I can say I still play regularly from back then, partly due to always having so much new material to listen to, but I can honestly say this is one of them. That “The Crucifixion” is not recognised worldwide as a prog classic is nothing short of a travesty, and I long ago gave up on them ever getting back together and releasing any new material, but they put out a single in 2014, and there have been a few more since then, with this being the latest.
The line-up these days is Les Dougan (vocals, drums, percussion, keyboards), John Poloyannis (guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion) and Tom Behrsing (keyboards), as it always has been. There have been a few other musicians and guests involved over the years, but this trio have been the core since the very beginning and that debut album (which was released in 1988!). At 11 minutes long, this is classic Aragon, containing everything I expect from then in that the music is haunting, changing, full of contrast and an arrangement which builds and then lifts off. This band can go from delicate and emotional to powering and full-on rock (led either by keyboards or guitar) without notice and just as quickly switch it back again. The listener has no idea where they are going, just that the journey is worthwhile even if the route is unknown. Then there is Les. I have long lost the ability to say anything constructive about his vocal style, as he is one of the finest and most individual singers in progdom who comes across as a mix of Geoff Mann, Michael Sadler and Peter Nicholls. Like them he is instantly recognisable and when he is singing the music is designed to put him firmly in spotlight, yet Aragon also delight in instrumental sections,
This is epic, in so many ways, and long-standing fans will enjoy seeing the continuation of “Rocking Horse” which has been appearing in different forms for many years. Complex, progtastic, progressive music does not get any better than this. I can play this all day, and the other day I just set it on repeat and marvelled on how it gets better each and every time I hear it. I only have one question now for the guys from Melbourne, when do we get an album?? Please!!!!!