Windchase – Symphinity (1977)

frontcover1Windchase was basically an offshoot of Sebastian Hardie, one of the rare examples of Australian prog rock. Sebastian Hardie fell apart after their second and final album, leaving two members to continue on with a new band. Windchase consisted of two ex-Sebastian Hardie members, guitarist/vocalist Mario Millo and keyboardist Toivo Pilt. Naturally the band was named after Sebastian Hardie’s second, and final album, called Windchase (1976). Apparently Mario Millo and Toivo Pilt couldn’t use the SH name because neither were original members, only bassist Peter Plavsic was there from their 1960s formation right down to the two albums they recorded in 1975-76, and he had nothing to do with this 1977 version (Mario Millo came around 1973 when he was 18). The Plavsic brothers were replaced by drummer Doug Blight, and bassist Duncan McGuire.

1977’s Symphinity, was released on the Infinity label (division of Festival) (nothing to do with the American MCA division called Infinity) and wasn’t really a continuation of the Sebastian Hardie sound, so if you’re expecting another Four Moments, you won’t find it here. But what happened if Santana was a full-on prog rock band? This is that album! Toivo Pilt whips out the Hammond organ, Santana style, and Mario Millo’s guitar playing is much closer to Carlos Santana’s, but thanks to their experience with Sebastian Hardie, the music is naturally going to be much more progressive. This album really emphasizes Mario’s guitar playing even more. The occasional Mellotron does surface, but as demonstrated on Sebastian Hardie’s Windchase, Toivo preferred to use the string synths more here as well, meaning Four Moments is the best place to hear the Mellotron used the most. “Forward” is a brief piano intro that leads to “Horsemen to Symphinity”. This shows that Santana influence, but comparisons to Camel can be valid, as Mario Millo’s guitar playing has been compared to that of Andy Latimer. “Glad to Be Alive” and “Flight Call” are ballads, and many are turned off by those cuts, because it might come across as too soft rock for some. “Glad to Be Alive” can remind one of ELO, especially because Mario windchaseMillo’s vocals do remind one of Jeff Lynne here and the presence of strings (not to mention it’s probably no coincidence, as ELO was at the beginning of their commercial peak). Thanks to Mario Millo’s Italian heritage, it’s little surprise the album would feature a short piece called “Non Siamo Perfetti”. It’s an acoustic piece with an Italian feel to it that incorporates a couple of Sebastian Hardie themes from Four Moments and Windchase. “No Scruples” is a favorite of mine, I especially dig the Moog solo that Toivo Pilt gave us. Symphinity was the only album Windchase had done, it’s not too surprising, given this was 1977, smack in the middle of punk and disco. Mario Millo then went solo, released an album in 1979 called Epic III, before entering the world of film and television to score music. I found Symphinity a bit underrated in comparisons to Four Moments, but it’s a great album, and one of the greats of Aussie prog, as far as I’m concerned. (By Benjamin Miller)

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Personnel:

Doug Bligh (drums, percussion, background vocals)
Duncan McGuire (bass)
Mario Millo (guitar, mandolin, vocals)
Toivo Pilt (keyboards, synhesizer, clavinet, vocals)
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Jeff Camilleri (bass on 09.)
Mario Millo (guitar, vocals on 09.)
Doug Nethercote (bass on 03. + 05.)
Cos Russo (keyboards on 09.)
Robbie Siracusa (drums on 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Forward We Ride (Pilt) 1.39
02. Horsemen To Symphinity (Pilt) 8.33
03. Glad To Be Alive (Millo) 8.06
04. Gypsy (Millo) 4.47
05. No Scruples (Pilt) 6.29
06. Lamb’s Fry (Pilt) 9.39
07. Non Siamo Perfetti (Millo) 1.57
08. Flight Call (Millo) 4.36#
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09. Horsemen To Symphinity (live ) (Pilt) 11.55
(recorded live at Harbourside Brasserie, Sydney, Australia, October 1999. by Mario Millo and Men From Mars)

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