Arc Angel -Cannata - Tamorok

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Oxford Circus
Catalog Number: OXF002
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:12:00

There is nothing wrong with Arc Angel ? Cannata's Tamorok. The production sounds really good, it has lots of warmth, good performances from Jeff Cannata, who plays drums, guitars, synths and handles the vocals admirably, and his guests (many ex-Jasper Wrath members), who play woodwinds, sax, guitars, keys, and piano. You're waiting for the "but," aren't you? Well, the "but" isn't probably what you're thinking (unless you've already read Clayton's review).

The "but" in this case that you will not get past how much this sounds like an Asia/Yes hybrid. First, the Asia angle: This would be Asia with a slight edge ? which one (I) would have wanted from Aura -- but Asia nonetheless. While John Payne is the main ingredient in Cannata's vocal style and sound. From feel to production values, everything here suggests Asia. How else, besides the Cannata vocals (tone-wise), is this like Asia? Oh, in almost every way, even down to the soft focus feel. That is, the layered vocals are draped in a light, gauzy haze (a bit like Alan Parson's Project in that respect). Really, if you took off the track or two that sounds like Yes, slapped an Asia graphic on it and said it was Asia, I don't think anyone would bat an eye. One might notice that there is a little more energy and oomph in the material here, perhaps owing to Cannata being a drummer first. In fact, the kick-start track is "Watching The World" (track 5), where Cannata occasionally seems possessed by Rod Stewart. Yeh, the rhythm is little more basic than on the previous and subsequent tracks, but Jimi Bell, the solo guitarist lets loose some searing guitar licks, though his solo spots are rather brief (Barry Marshall's sax solo on "Let It Be" is also all too brief, especially as I simply love his warm tone).

Ah, but I said an Asia/Yes hybrid, what about the Yes-factor? Mainly it's in the harmonized vocals that one associates with yes, and a particular tone of a particular Yes vocalist ? of course, Jon Anderson. "When It's Love" and "Sailing Ships" especially have this Yes-factor, each sounding like a latter day Yes track. In the case of the first, it is along the lines of Big Generator - think "Love Will Find A Way" and "Rhythm Of Love." "Sailing Ships" has more generalized Yes-ness about it. Reading an interview conducted by the AOR Website, it seems that Cannata was an admirer of Yes (among other classic prog bands of the era ? Floyd, Tull, etc.).

Into this hybrid add a few strands of musical DNA from Saga, as I think of them during "Dangerous Game;" Billy Squier, as "Calling To You" sounds like something he would do ? actually, did ("Eyes On You" from Signs Of Life), though not an exact duplicate of that song?just a certain feel, especially in the way Cannata sings the chorus. And, oddly, the first bit of "Sailing Ships" sounds a bit like Marillion's "Lady Nina." But maybe that's just me.

Everything moves along smoothly, in a mid-tempo fashion. "Tamorok" starts off in a liquid fashion, and sounding very much like something that would have been a Top 40 hit in the early 80s. Woodwinds from guest Robert Gianotti and piano from ex-Jasper Wrath cohort make this an especially nice track. It is a good one to lead off with, containing just the right amount of warmth. This moves from Asia to Yes and back almost seamlessly. Listening to the chorus of voices in the chorus is very much Yes like. And like the best music, you hear this in layers, as little elements suddenly resolve themselves on subsequent listens. Cannata is a very dynamic drummer which helps give this release texture and depth. Gianotti guests on "Prisoner In The Holy Land" and "Stars" as well, providing some very nice leads, without being showy or flashy. "Big Life," sounds at times like something that could have come off an early-to-mid 80s Fleetwood Mac album -- Mirage is what I'm thinking of mainly, with shades of "Hold Me" and of Tango In The Night, with shades of "Big Love" (and not just 'cause of the title). And yet again, it's that dreamy, gauzy element that one finds in the referenced tracks that leads to the comparison.

"Stars" has a different feel, with too shrill and overly synthetic keyboards, though otherwise reminds me a great deal of Marillion's "Waiting To Happen." Despite the dry keyboards, I do like this track, as it's another one with a lot of energy propelling it. Actually, there isn't a track here that I don't like. One does find a certain lack of aggression in song called "Dangerous Game." Though there is some distorted guitar that gives this a slight edge. And no, I'm not jaded by the harder edged metal I also listen to. "Stay" is a rather nice ballad, sentimental without being sappy, warm without being fuzzy. Batter guests on piano.

"Kings Of Nations" begins and ends with the sounds of war and voice raging against something (can't make out the words, but it sounds like Gene Wilder?could be Hitler, though ? a comparison I'm sure Wilder wouldn't be too thrilled with if he read it). The sound of helicopters close out the piece ? pulling this out of a WWII setting, and brining to mind Vietnam. A crying baby is that last thing you hear. In between, we get chunky, pounding rhythm that dominates the arrangement, lead by drums, percussion, and bass. The energy of this song is infectious and is one of the highlights of the album. Sure there is still a bit of haze in the arrangement, but searing, acidic lead from Mark Proto gives this track the kind of edge that is almost achieved in the rest of the album.

The majority of the songs on the album are re-recordings of earlier material from the various projects Cannata has been involved with, beginning with the band Jasper Wrath in the early 70s ("Big Life"). That band released only one album before splitting. In 1982/3 Cannata formed Arc Angel, a band that also released only one, self-titled album ("Stars"). In 1988, he released Images Of Forever (three songs: "Fortune Teller," "Hand In Hand," and "Sailing Ships") and in 1993 Watching The World (three songs: "When It's Love," "Watching The World," and "Let It Be"), both under the Cannata name. The remaining 6 tracks are original to this release, "Tamorok," "Prisoner In The Holy Land," "Calling To You," "Dangerous Game," "Stay" and "Kings Of Nature." The tracks included are those that are Cannata's favorites.

Actually, I like this a great deal and ought to go over a storm with those who love AOR. As I said at the outset, it is well produced and presented ? the booklet is nicely done, illustrated with photographs of Egyptian artifacts and a photo montage of Cannata. Cannata gets high marks for this, despite the all the "sounds like" that peppers my reviews. Remember, these are just references, not cases of "he lifted this from that?"

Tamorok (6:16) / Prisoner In The Holy Land (4:32) / Big Life (6:59) / When It's Love (4:38) / Watching The World (3:53) / Let It Be (4:01) / Stars (2001) (5:35) / Calling To You (4:11) / Fortune Teller (3:45) / Hand In Hand (4:27) / Sailing Ships (4:37) / Dangerous Game (5:03) / Stay (3:29) / Kings Of Nations (6:48)

Jeff Cannata - drums, guitars, synths, and vocals

Guest musicians:

Robert Gianotti - guitar, woodwinds (1, 2, 7)
Jeff Batter - piano, keyboards (1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13)
Jay Rowe - piano (3)
Brian Wise - guitar (3, 12)
Mark Proto - guitar solo (4, 14)
Jay Johnson - lead/rhythm guitars (4, 5, 9, 11)
Jimi Bell - guitar solo (5)
David Coe - acoustic guitar (6)
Barry Marshall - sax solo (6)
Peter Hodson - add'l guitars (8)
J. Christian - background vocals (9, 11)
Michael Soldan - synths (11)
Roland Pepin - keyboards (14)

Arc Angel (1983)
Images of Forever (1988)
Watching The World(1993)
Jasper Wrath Anthology (1997)
Tamorok (2002)
Mysterium Magnum (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 12th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 984
Language: english


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