It’s been seven years since musician and DJ, Anton Roolaart, host of Progressive Rock Radio (progrockradio.com), which started ten years ago and released an album back in 2007 called Dreamer and it’s been a while since he’s released another studio album. He always wanted to take the sound of the genre of the Symphonic Prog sound by staying true to it, and go into different worlds and alternate universes as if it is a score for a film or TV series in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre.
This year in 2014, he is back with a follow-up, The Plight of Lady Oona. In this second album, it shows Anton go into stories and tales while going into the sounds of; symphonic, ominous, classical, and melancholic tones here. Like an orchestral ‘80s futuristic opener with Gravity, which was released as a single back in 2011, shows Anton going into the moving backgrounds of the surrounding utopian universe on the story of being uncertain of flying to escape from the crystal laced city.
Featuring a layered guitar line, the uplifting moog solo, heavy chords, and laid-back drum work, it sets the tone on the song with a mellowing yet soaring feel that is in the realm of Steven Wilson and the Meddle-era of Pink Floyd while the moving yet emotional touches between the sound of the Mellotron, Piano, Organ, and Guitar comes in for a romantic beauty with an ambient touch on Stars Fall Down.
Then, in comes the 13-minute title track featuring Renaissance’s Annie Haslam on guest vocals. It begins with a symphonic yet folk-like sounds on the story but with a psych twist on the adventures of Lady Oona for the first two minutes and thirty-seconds as it goes into the resemblance between Yes’ Close to the Edge and Stanley Clarke’s School Days-era for a combination of Orchestral-Prog-Fusion groove as the Church Organ takes flight for Oona to take embark on her amazing journey.
Elsewhere the swirling keyboards sets up the atmosphere before the angelic voice of Annie Haslam comes in and everything comes into full circle as the guitar goes into a moody watery sounds of the Gilmour-sque beauty and the Bass lines help take a touch of hope and renewal as Anton and Annie do a duet and the time changes hit the right note. Meanwhile, the thumping percussion sounds along with the heavy, ominous psych touches on Standing in the Rain resembles at times of Agitation Free’s Haunted Island, is hypnotic and mysterious while Anton gives a chance to take a break from the songs and into watching the sun to come up on the lukewarm fingerpicking crisp from the classical guitar of Memories.
Closer, The Revealing Light, in which it has the electronic touches, but carries the boost for a instrumentation of a psychedelic trip that has a Beatle-sque ‘60s vibe to fly to other worlds and be free. Not to mention the usage of keyboards, the Mellotron, hard guitar rhythm chords, and drum patterns that is back into the Wilson vibe and carrying the menacing sound but goes back into the acid folk sound as the guitar solo just hits the notes fret-by-fret to close the album for the final curtain call.
This is my 10th time listening to The Plight of Lady Oona, and it shows that Anton Roolaart is back to give the Prog genre a real jolt. With the lyrics on defining gravity, searching for a new beginning, and how life can be a mystery, it is a stunning yet striking welcoming return for Roolaart to see what he would come up with next.