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Opus Doria - 'The Compass Rose' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/e3/ae/40/opus-doria-the-compass-rose-32-1498334596.jpg Hot

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This album offers up an absorbing palette for the more discerning amongst you.

I reviewed Opus Doria's second album 'A Day On Earth' back in 2014 and gave it quite a glowing reference (their first 'Infraworld' having come out in October 2011). Now here we are, slightly belatedly, reviewing album number three which was released last October.

So what's new with OD then? In personnel they've gained a new young guitarist in Roman Rouzine, who has replaced Bruno Rodrigues, and added a few more special guests to the party in trumpeter Richard Desperes and acoustic/Classical guitarist Christine Lanusse. Pascal Jean, with his wind instruments (most notably the oboe and English horn), has been invited back but there is some confusion whether or not Gurvan Guillaumin, with his Uilleann Pipes and whistles, and violinist Delphine Labandibar are new band members or guests. How-so-ever, they are all masters of their instruments and there is absolutely no question of the quality of the playing involved. If one remembers, most of the players are teachers of their instruments in their own right.

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Pianist and keyboard player Laura Nicogossian composes all the music and lyrics (as before) with the whole band handling the arrangements. As was the case on the previous album, nothing jumps out at you with immediate clarity. Some of the songs seem incredibly ambitious in their nature and come across as rather convoluted in the process, however, much as before, they need absorbing over a period of time to gain recognition. Mezzo-Contralto Christel Lindstat possesses a fine range and power with her showcasing both Operatic and conventional singing, although the lyrical phrasing in places seem misplaced, albeit probably deliberately, which I feel sometimes detracts from the song.

'Enigma', 'Frozen Flame' and the piano/violin-led title track have all been recorded on video and can be found on YouTube which I feel gives a better demonstration of the ambitious nature of the pieces. The Arab-esque (Moroccan?) flavour of effective instrumental 'Fire Horses' (with Lindstat giving her best Tarja Turunen impression) is rather absorbing, the thematic instrumental 'Stars Reflections On The Waves' provides lush soundscapes and the Uilleann Pipes on the Progressive instrumental 'Ghost Odyssey' add a nice flavour to what are exquisite compositions. When added to the more conventional song melody of 'Heavenly Crossroads' and the more abstract 'Tierra De Sangre' ('Land Of Blood'), which is sung in Spanish with accompanying Flamenco trumpet and guitar, this album offers up an absorbing palette for the more discerning amongst you.

Carl Buxton

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