Douwe Fledderus - October 2019

The album opens with the track “Red Blood On White Stone”. The first thing you will notice is that Nick is the master of the keyboard orchestration. The keyboard orchestrations on this album are often breathtaking. The second thing you will notice is that when the first vocal harmonies, sung by Andy Neve and Nick Magnus are kicking in, that these have the quality you will remember from several Steve Hackett albums. This Hackett resemblance is further emphasized by a beautiful guitar solo of the master (Steve Hackett) himself.

This great album opener is followed by “Three Tall Towers” which is sung by Pete Nicks which we all know from his contributions to the “Spectral Mornings” album of Steve Hackett and the following tours. This piece has more the style and atmosphere of Nick’s previous albums. Also these first two tracks will show you how important Nick Magnus was for the early days of Steve Hackett’s solo career. “Convivium” is a short instrumental with nice classical and medieval atmospheres. You will be impressed by all those fine keyboard sounds and melodies.

Talking about beautiful melodies and wonderful keyboard orchestrations the next track “The Devil’s Bridge” is also a beautiful song. The vocals on this slow track are sung by ReGenesis vocalist Tony Patterson. “The Market At Mirepoix” is a typical song of the storyteller Nick Magnus. He himself is responsible for the vocals and the violin contributions are from his United Progressive Fraternity mate Steve Unruh. It is an uptempo and uplifting sounding song with an amazing violin solo of Steve Unruh. The violin is such a great instrument for progressive rock music.

The next short track is for me one of the (many) highlights of this album. “Gathering Mists” is one of those Nick Magnus gems. Beautiful and atmospheric piece with delicate Neo Classical piano parts. The slow and wonderful melodies are breathtaking. The next track “A Widow In Black” has also a Steve Hackett connection. Amanda Lehmann is contributing with beautiful lead vocals while Nick Is doing the backing vocals himself. Also in this track you will find those beautiful keyboard orchestrations next to fine acoustic guitar parts.

The album ends with the longest (13:35) track called “Mountain Mother”. It has a mysterious opening before the keyboard orchestrations with the most beautiful melodies swell up. Shortly I had to think of the music of David Arkenstone. Vocalist Tony Patterson is telling the story here. The atmosphere of the song is on the mellow side of the spectrum and slowly the tension of the music is building up. Again breathtaking melodies and goose-bump moments in this composition of epic proportions. In the last part Nick is spoiling us with a fine synth solo. But like on the whole album most of the keyboard parts are played in the service of the compositions.

Wow ... and again I am speechless after listening to new compositions of Nick Magnus. Only for “Gathering Mists” and “Mountain Mother” I would buy this album. The music has often a kind of cinematic quality which is great for storytelling. Nick Magnus is the master of the keyboard orchestration and his unique sounds and wonderful melodies, which are often breathtaking, makes him for me one of the most interesting and adventurous keyboard players/composers with an own unique style. “Catharsis” is a wonderful album with beautiful music and very fine vocal contributions. Don’t expect freaky progressive stuff on one of his album. It is all about the music and the compositions. An album made with a lot of passion, this simply shines trough the music. What can I say more, this album is highly recommended by progVisions.

8 October 2019 by Maarten Goossensen (translated from the original Dutch)

Sometimes you come to a place that takes your breath away. I had this, for example, when I visited The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland or when I was walking through the mountains in Switzerland as a teenager. Such a place can really have an impact. Nick Magnus had this with the Ariège department at the southernmost tip of France. He studied the landscape and history. It runs like a red thread through this new album.

It is already five years after his album " N'Monix ". That was my first introduction to his solo work. I was sold immediately. That album excelled in particularly pleasant symphonic rock with strikingly strong lyrics. The disc can regularly spin its circles in my CD player.

"Catharsis" is a very atmospheric album. You regularly have the feeling that you are skimming over the French landscape and seeing one beautiful spot after another. The eight songs together form a pleasant whole. Sometimes it is clearly about the history as in the up-tempo The Market At Mirepoix . We visit a medieval market where Steve Unruh creates a nice atmosphere with his stirring violin playing. While on other numbers a place is really described. Opener Red Blood On White Stone is one of the most beautiful songs on the album. Fine changes in tempo, beautiful orchestrations, strong vocals and a great guitar solo by grandmaster Steve Hackett.

Nick Magnus also attracted a number of good vocalists for this album. Pete Hicks sings on the beautiful Three Tall Towers and Tony Patterson can be heard in The Devil's Bridge . His warm voice fits perfectly in the whole. Nick Magnus' keys float beautifully through the whole and the powerful chorus keeps on singing around in your head. Tony Patterson can also be heard on Mountain Mother . What a terribly good singer this is.

Amanda Lehmann is responsible for the vocals in A Widow In Black . It is a nice ballad in which her angelic voice comes into its best. The warm acoustic guitar sounds are reminiscent of Genesis . But the real hussar piece was saved for the last track. The thirteen-minute Mountain Mother is one of the most beautiful songs I heard this year. The minute-long intro with beautiful orchestrations is enough for goosebumps on my arms. It is very cinematic and it feels great. Afterwards it turns into a beautiful whole and in your mind you fly over changing landscapes. It contains a kind of subcutaneous tension that is sustained very well. A choir also appears halfway. Those are the moments when the song reaches its peak, how cool that sounds! Their wordless, echoing vocals excite the whole thing.

All in all, "Catharsis" (with compliments for the artwork) is a very atmospheric album. Strongly balanced and very well thought out. Listen to it on headphones and you are completely gone for 45 minutes.

Patrick McAfee, 10 October 2019

Over the last 25 years, keyboardist Nick Magnus has somewhat quietly released an impressive collection of solo albums. Best known for his work with Steve Hackett in the 70s and 80s, Nick's solo material confirms the influence that he had on the great Hackett albums of that era.

Like most of his previous solo releases, Catharsis is unabashedly old-fashioned, in the best sense. It's not that the album sounds dated, but Nick embraces the old-school musical values that helped to create so many excellent albums "back in the day". As technically talented as the classic prog musicians were, and regardless of the amount of time changes utilised, the music was almost always melodic. Nick Magnus seems to be dedicated to that same ideology. Catharsis succeeds, in large part due to his ability to create music in which strong melodies are always a key feature.

The opening track, Red Blood On White Stone is a perfect example of this. Filled with musical twists and turns, there is a ton of grandeur and majesty packed into its nine minutes. The song's diverse menagerie, includes a mix of orchestral segments, pounding drums, choral and harmony vocals and Steve Hackett's screeching guitar. All of these various elements are tied together by some truly infectious melodies.

Magnus creates progressive music that is accessible, but also complex and intricate. Inspired by the beauty and history of the Ariège region of the French Pyrénées, the concept of Catharsis allows Nick the opportunity to convey many musical moods. There is a sweeping, film-score feel to much of the album. The music is visual and many of the songs are epic, if not in length, then certainly in scope. Variety is key to the material and each track presents a distinctly different musical vision.

Aside from the excellent instrumentation throughout, the vocal work of Amanda Lehmann, Pete Hicks, Tony Patterson, Andy Neve, and Magnus is also outstanding. Considering the diverse nature of the concept and the musical styles utilised, the use of several vocalists works really well. This is one of the those albums that, as I was listening to it, I found myself marvelling at how good it is.

As mentioned above, there is something nostalgic about Catharsis which lends to its appeal. Ultimately though, nostalgia only goes so far, and this album is entertaining for reasons far beyond sentimentality. If you reflect on classics like Spectral Mornings or some of the great Alan Parsons Project releases and say: "They don't make them like that anymore", think again. Nick Magnus does. Impeccably produced, full of great songs and outstanding performances, Catharsis has earned a place on my list of 2019's best albums.



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