Advent – Cantus Firmus

Formed in 1989, Advent began as a collaboration between Alan Benjamin and Henry Ptak, with Henry's brother Mark joining very shortly thereafter. Leveraging diverse-yet-harmonious backgrounds and a common desire to create music that would, first and foremost, satisfy the members' own progressive and somewhat eclectic musical desires, the band released its critically acclaimed (self-titled) debut CD on Mellow Records in 1997 and also contributed several pieces to both Gentle Giant and Procol Harum tribute-album projects around the same time. The group released its long-awaited follow-up album, Cantus Firmus, in 2006— to numerous rave reviews—and has since been developing a growing reputation as one of today's most impressive live progressive-rock acts. Work is also well underway on a third Advent album, with a targeted release in early 2011.  

From in USA
Eclectic Progressive Rock
Advent – Cantus Firmus - 2006
01. GK Contramundum (2:00)
02. Awaiting the Call… (5:10)
03. Parenting Parents (6:45)
04. Utter Once Her Name (5:30)
05. Remembering When (4:00)
06. Ramblin' Sailor (18:14)
07. Your Healing Hand (8:18)
08. Firmus Finale (4:40)
09. Rear View Mirror (Bonus Track) (3:34)
10. Alison Waits (A Ghost Story) (Bonus Track) (10:40)
Total Time: 69:16
- Alan Benjamin / guitars, basses, stick, mandolin, recorder
- Henry Ptak / keyboards, lead vocals, backing vocals, percussion
- Mark Ptak / keyboards, backing vocals, percussion
- Drew Siciliano / drums
- Shunji Saegusa / guest on "Ramblin' Sailor", bass
- Ken Serio / guest on "Alison Waits", drums


One may occasionally bemoan the lot of the prog consumer, whose never-ending search for great music can quickly separate a fellow from his money, and often consists of wading through the extremes of industrial racket, ambient ooze, 3rd-rate rock bands and everything in between in order to discover those rare gems. Advent is one of the gems. For no other reason than their name they will draw comparisons to Gentle Giant. There are similarities especially in some of the vocal arrangements and of course, their excellent Gentle Giant tribute piece, "BITB". In most cases however, the similarity is merely that both groups feature complex and finely crafted compositions. These musicians understand the kinds of influences that helped to generate the progressive movement in the first place, so they don't come across as merely aping some of the characteristics of the seventies bands, rather they draw from the same well of inspiration. Rock & Roll, early liturgical polyphony, 20th century rhythm and harmony, and even a little Henry Mancini figure into a mix of influences that swirl under slight gothic overtones. The Ptak brothers, Mark & Henry, handle most of the composing, keyboards, and vocals. In particular, Henry Ptak's compositions and arrangements are featured and he proves to be an outstanding and highly imaginative musician, obviously trained in the art of thematic development; you won't find unrelated ideas haphazardly strung together here. Also in the group is multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Allan Benjamin, who contributes guitars, bass, stick, violin, backing vocals, and some fine compositional ideas of his own. The music on this disc is busy, tight, detailed and squeaky clean; everything in its place. So if your preference is the grungy, repetitive, heavier side of prog, look elsewhere. The band is aware that they will get some flak for the "demo" sound quality, though the sound is acceptable and often quite good. The use of the hated drum machine may draw critical fire as well, but this music is a rare case of strong ideas and performances transcending whatever technical limitations may have been imposed. One of America's finest unknown music ensembles. -- Ken A. Watson (Gibraltar Newsletter Vol. 7 #21, Aug. 1997)


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