I discovered the band Unitopia a number of years ago, and have been delighted by their music during that time, which carries a particular warmth, energy and sensitivity about it. Like many of their admirers I have been waiting anxiously for new material from the band for a while now - since their last studio recording 'Artificial' in 2010. That wait is now over, to some degree, with the release of 'Covered Mirror'. I say 'to some degree', because this is a collection of songs that have inspired the band - other people's music, rather than their own.
Influences and inspiration in music manifest themselves in a number of ways, and imitation is often described as the sincerest form of flattery. But this ensemble is not a case of mere imitation. On each song Unitopia have stamped their own style, and brought their own interpretation to works by bands as diverse as The Korgies, Ice House & Marillion, as well as rock standards Led Zeppelin, Yes & Genesis.
I must confess to being familiar with most, but not all, of the songs on this album, so I am aware of 'what they ought to sound like' (or how the original bands played them). On the whole I think that these songs are done justice to, and I have been encouraged to search out the music I'm not familiar with to see how Unitopia have interpreted them.
Stand-outs for me are Led Zeppelin's 'Rain Song', Supertramp's 'Even in the Quietest Moments' & Todd Rundgren's 'Can we Still be Friends', along with the two long medleys of Yes & Genesis material. I particularly love the take of Genesis's 'Silent Sun', from their first album, which I think is vastly improved in this version; and their interpretation of Yes's 'Owner of a Lonely Heart', which morphs from a stadium rocker to almost a ballad. The material has, at times, a strong antipodean feel (as perhaps one would expect from a Aussie band), with the use of didgeridoos giving an ethereal edge at times.
While I, and many others, await new personal material from this band, 'Covered Mirror' is an opportunity to relax in the warmth of Mark Trueack's vocals and the band's virtuosity. And if you can, check out the bonus tracks which include a splendid working of John Martyn's 'Sweet Little Mystery'.