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Unitopia – Artificial: Review

Through InsideOut, the Australian progressive rock band, Unitopia, released their latest album. It is entitled Artificial and became available on May 3, 2010. After listening to their highly acclaimed The Garden, I had high expectations for this one. Artificial went above and beyond each and every one of them, creating what I would call a near-perfect album.

The Music (rating: A)

  1. Suffocation
  2. Artificial World
  3. Nothing Lasts Forever
  4. Not Human Anymore
  5. Tesla
  6. Reflections
  7. The Power of 3
  8. Rule of 3’s
  9. Gone in the Blink of an Eye
  10. The Great Reward

For those of you who have heard The Garden, this has a rather similar style. Unitopia had created an identity for themselves with their sound, and it cannot be mistaken in the album. Despite the uniqueness of the sound, Artificial has a very strong progressive feel to it. It also has a whole classical-symphonic song (“The Power of 3”), as well as many stylistically similar moments throughout the album. Much of it is also heavily jazz influenced. The combination of genres makes the album a distinct, unforgettable listen.

Every song in the collection is extremely creative and musical. There is an immense variety of different tones, styles, and atmospheres throughout the album. But this does not at all detract from the album’s flow. For instance, going from “The Power of 3” to “Rule of 3’s” is a huge jump in the overall feel of the song, but the smoothness of the transition makes the two mistakable as a single song. Also, the finer musical elements of progressive, such as odd and shifting time signatures and unorthodox key signatures, have a strong presence. The song structures contrast each other as well as the norm. There is a large collection of different song lengths, making it challenging to know when one song ends and the other begins. In fact, the whole album feels like a long song! Artificial very effectively employs volume dynamics, having sections ranging from ballads to almost metal (but not quite there). Unitopia has impressed me with this highly musical release.

The band’s capabilities extends furthermore to their instrumental talents. The vocals, though not overly technical, are phrased extremely well. In the background, the bassist delivers strong support lines, though he is just as capable with regards to melodic lead. And though the drummer is new in Artificial, he shows himself to be an integral part of the music in the second song and onwards. The keyboards and wind and brass instruments, which are all done by one individual, are very intricate and purposeful. They add numerous layers on top of the already in-depth music. The guitar in the album is also excellent, though more often than not used as a rhythmic device. Still, the lead sections, such as that of “Not Human Anymore,” are fantastic. Each band member delivers a top-notch performance in Artificial.

My favorite song on the album is definitely “The Power of 3”. One does not come across many classical-symphonic scores in albums nowadays; this is truly a rarity. It is very dynamic and highly musical. The mesh of percussion and strings is perfect, creating the most extreme emotional moments. The placement of the song in the album is very fitting, serving as a break and a re-energizer. And though it is less than two minutes, “The Power of 3” has more musical content than the majority of songs out there.

But overall, the album as a whole is remarkable. There are almost no weaknesses in the album, and its strengths are more than commendable. Whether it be the instrumental performance or the musical creativity, Unitopia shows themselves to be head and shoulders above almost every other band in the music scene. Artificial is an extremely unique and diverse album which is destined to stand the test of time.

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