Solaris - Nostradamus. 1999 Hungary

For my tastes, Solaris' 1990 is one of the greatest post 70s progressive rock albums there is. There was a magic about it that captured my imagination greatly when first released, and it preceded even Anglagard in that this whole prog rock revival thing might be worth staying around for. Of course the debut Marsbeli Kronikak is tablestakes for any 80s progressive rock collection. Then I saw Solaris live in Los Angeles and was mightily impressed.

It is with this background that I came into Nostradamus with. And while the great prognosticator had been played out already, who better than Solaris to elevate it to the highest level of art? For me, this was one of the most anticipated albums I can ever recall.

Hmm. It just didn't happen. I recall vividly my first impression. I was nonplussed. Not disappointed mind you, just not wowed as I expected to be. Of course it's often time nigh impossible to meet such a lofty, perhaps unrealistic, goal. My Gnosis grade in real time was a 10 (a 3.5 here). And into the collection it was filed after a couple of earnest attempts of "feeling it". And now, I finally have brought it back out from the vaults for a revisit. Here's where I'm going to tell you my tastes have changed, and I have a whole new appreciation for it right? Nope. It remains a 3.5.

The odd thing about Nostradamus is it sounds very much like Solaris. I wouldn't chalk it up to the sudden tragic death of guitarist Istvan Cziglan. Even more bizarre is that the opening 3 'Book of Prophecies' tracks are the weakest, which comes completely unexpected. There's a hollowness to the overall sound here. It's big and bright, and very much a product of the 90s. But it isn't exactly like 1990 was an analog dream. In fact quite the opposite. If it not for the brilliant flute work of Attila Kollar, the album wouldn't be as good as it even is. But his brilliant phasing, melodic disposition, and overall tone is hard to beat. At this point, he seems to be Solaris. And it comes as no surprise he later ventured on his own for two more albums that surpassed Nostradamus in quality.

I want to be clear here: This is not a bad album by any stretch. But the Solaris name is highly revered in the ashratom world. And this one came up short. Perhaps I should have predicted it. The protagonist would have. Or would have he?

Personal collection
CD: 1999 Periferic

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