4.5 out of 5 Stars!
Here’s another single-album band that, sadly, didn’t last long. Or rather, it was a two-man project made up of Nad Sylvan and Bonamici (aka Christian Thordin) from Sweden that released only one collection of tracks that somehow, magically, captured the spirit of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis almost to a perfect “T.” Perhaps not as clone-like as the group The Watch, but close enough for a Genesis fan like me.
This album of twelve tracks is full of Prog-Rock gems. Some of the highlights include…
“Birth of a Biggie,” the opening cut, immediately whisks the listener back forty-some years to the Genesis glory days of Selling England by the Pound. Indeed, the song could almost have been an outtake from the album, that’s how similar Unifaun sounds like Genesis. The keyboards are completely Tony Banks, the guitar tones and playing style are straight Steve Hackett, and the lead vocals are a fairly decent replica of Peter Gabriel.
“Mr. Marmaduke and the Minister” not only eerily replicates the Genesis sound, but also incorporates its quirky humor when it comes to the whimsical storytelling lyrics and the vocal performance, not to mention the instrumentation, of a track such as Genesis’s “The Battle of Epping Forest.” Quite excellent, and one of my favorite tracks on offer here.
“ReHacksis” is a beautiful instrumental that could easily have popped up on an album such as Wind & Wuthering. And the track’s title suggests, the guitar sound is a tribute to Steve Hackett himself.
A mellow ballad entitled “A Way Out” brings to mind “Carpet Crawlers” from Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album, even nearly duplicating the background keyboard run.
A different sort of track called “Welcome to the Farm” brings to mind a more single-oriented version of Genesis (such as “I Know What I Like” or “Follow You, Follow Me”) that is quite upbeat and bouncy, almost poppy, yet still retains the classic Genesis feel. This could have easily been a hit single since the chorus is so damned catchy it will have you humming it for days.
Somewhat surprising to me, however, is that the nearly fourteen minute “Quest for the Last Virtue” is not as much “Genesis-like” as I had originally expected, considering it’s the album’s longest track and the biggest opportunity for Unifaun to get its Genesis “ya-yas” out. Oh sure, plenty of the Genesis tones, styles, instrumentation, etc. are here in abundance, but Unifaun actually seems more determined to explore and develop its personal style on this track. Even the vocals seem less chained to Peter Gabriel’s usual inflections and enunciation and quirks that are so prevalent on the majority of other tracks. Be that as it may, it’s quite appealing nonetheless, showing the two-man team is more than simply a clone of the band they so obviously worship.
So overall, this album contains a load of excellent and fun material. And if you’re a fan of Genesis, and have not heard this album already, I strongly suggest you immediately hunt down a copy, sit back with headphones firmly in place, and revel. It’s truly unfortunate Unifaun didn’t last longer than a single release since I would have eagerly welcomed more material.
Ending note: Thankfully, one member of the team (Nad Sylvan, who handled the lead vocals, the guitars and keyboards, etc.) went on the year following this release to join Agents Of Mercy (with Roine Stolt from The Flower Kings) as its lead vocalist, and that band produced a trio of high-quality albums between 2009 and 2011. Yet none of those releases were as “Genesis-inspired” as the single Unifaun album. Nad also has a handful of solo releases, but I’ve yet to hear any of them. (I hope to remedy that situation soon enough.) I can only hope they also have a Genesis-inspired vibe to them. Stands to reason they probably will, considering the sound, style, and mood of Unifaun’s sole album and how Nad’s vocals, guitar, and keyboard tones (from organ to Mellotron to synths) are about as close to the classic Genesis sound as one can get. Moreover, Nad’s now also working with the great Steve Hackett himself, so that’s an added bonus for all Prog-lovers.