Intelligent Music 2024

The thrill is gone: another chapter of long-playing series fails to perform wonders.

VIII: Miracles Beyond

It’s only for so long that one can ride the coattails of their nostalgia for teenage idealism and spread their positive-thinking message without worrying about disturbing the world. Milen Vrabevski might seem well aware of such truth – not for nothing he’s asking himself on “Miracles Beyond”: “Is it greatness what I’m looking for?” before answering: “Quietness won’t generate it” – and still the Bulgarian composer can’t stop this project which allowed his sweet melodies to be delivered by Western stars. However, despite the excellent musicianship on display, what started with "The Power Of Mind" in the previous decade has outstayed the endeavor’s initial welcome, and though the late-’70s-scented songs’ pop appeal stayed the same, their quality began to slip – first and foremost, production-wise, the “Imperfection, in the dumps. Far from ideal” lyric showing the writer knows it too.

The worrisome signs show right after a moderately pompous symphonic intro sets the scene for “Thunder” which rocks a serrated riff and infectious refrain but sees ASIA’s John Payne flub a vocal line – something that could have been remedied by another take – before serving up the hilarious sentence “Like a fire, it goes against the grain” and empowering Carl Sentance to soar and the listener to get confused and let go of any sense except for tuneful abandon. And if the somewhat familiar “Days Rollin'” feels quite tasty, with Joseph Williams’ life-affirming voice and Biser Ivanov’s gusty guitar figures overlaying Ernest Tibbs and Simon Phillips’ stellar engine, this piece’s dance moves lead to the rather maudlin ballads-to-rockers “For You” and “Real” whereas the effusive “Expecting You” ushers in bluesy tones, and to the album’s strings-drenched title track and the piano-laden “Anyway” which Richard Grisman and a choir fill with touching spirituality. Riding on a contrast, the heavier “Then I Knew” and “Right, I Said” sound just as fine, albeit differently from “Believe In Love” which marries baroque serenade to banal schlager and pulls in three Ivanov-penned cuts to emphasize the ensemble’s prowess yet delve further into stylish, more contemporary vapidity.

This time miracle do indeed lie beyond – beyond the project’s reach.


June 4, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
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