Leonardo – The Absolute Man
is the brainchild of “Magna Carta” chief Peter Morticelli, who enlisted one of the label’s roster artists, keyboardist Trent Gardner to bring the project to fruition. Perhaps Renaissance man, Leonardo Da Vinci would be delighted, knowing that a bunch of seasoned rock veterans decided to construct an album based upon his persona. Essentially, Gardner, known for his work with the bands “Magellan” and “Explorers Club”, composed the music and lyrics for this rather ambitious and meticulously produced extravaganza.
Here, vocalists such as “Dream Theater’s James LaBrie along with Michelle Young, Robert Berry, Lisa Bouchelle and others, perform under the auspices of Da Vinci’s associates, family and/or apprentices throughout a series of mini-portraitures stitched together. - The proceedings commence with a prologue, featuring orchestrated synths and grandiose overtures, although the rock/opera-like frameworks tend to become superfluous amid the ensemble’s tumultuous discourses, knotty twists, and expeditious turns. Sure, the musicians’ deft expressionism and academic approach to the overall concept should be applauded. However, other than a few enticing melodic choruses, and electro-acoustic interludes many of the sequences and themes fails to sustain long term interest, as the musicians also employ EFX-based harpsichord patches, layered synth treatments, bone-crushing rhythms and digitally altered vocals. Hence, a good portion of this production tends to amble along like a weighty mass treading over choppy waters.
Personnel: The Musicians: Trent Gardner; keyboards & trombone: Wayne Gardner; guitar: Jeremy Colson; drums: Patrick Reyes; guitar: Steve Reyes; bass: Joe Franco; drums and orchestral percussion on two tracks: Luis Maldonado; guitar & bass on one track: The Cast (vocals): James LaBrie; Davey Pattison; Michelle Young; Josh Pincus; Lisa Bouchelle; Mike Baker; Trent Gardner; Robert Berry; Chris Shryack; Bret Douglas