(updated 16 March 2012) Magenta is a British progressive rock band fronted by stunning female vocalist Christina Booth. Both Magenta and Christina have received numerous awards for their work including best band and best female vocalist by The Classic Rock Society. Magenta was named a Musical Discoveries artist in 2004 and their work has been covered extensively at this site. Magenta's band's eighth studio album is entitled Chameleon (Tigermoth Records (UK), TMRCD0911, 2011). We honor Magenta by including our review as the 1000th entry in our Digest.
In addition to their eight studio albums (two of them are digital downloads), Magenta have also released four live albums, four DVDs and three EPs. Those interested in Rob Reed and Christina Booth's work will also enjoy Trippa, Christina's Broken Lives and Bleeding Hearts and the ChimpanA albums.
Chameleon's nine stunning tracks span a tight 50 minutes. They were also released in 5.1 surround on an accompanying bonus DVD (TMRBDVD0911, 2011) alongside an interview with Rob Reed and Christina Booth about the making of the album. The DVD also includes a promo video for the album's final track "Raw" and three additional featurettes. These include Chris Fry Reflections, Kieran Bailey drum session for "The Beginning Of The End" and trailers.
Magenta have experienced lineup changes prior to Chameleon however Rob Reed (keyboards, bass and guitars), Christina Booth and Steve Fry (guitars) remain the core of Magenta. Kieran Baily is credited with drums and Martin Rosser additional guitars on a couple of the tracks. It is the first album where all writing was done by Rob and Christina; former outings shared writing credits with Steve Reed. Note Musical Discoveries contributors Stephen Lambe and Chris Walken are thanked by the artists.
Chameleon is a very tight song-based album. None of the tracks on this release can be classified as epics. Instead, each one has been worked down to the essential progressive rock elements that Magenta listeners will recognize. In "Gitterball," written in Magenta's 'single' style, Christina's vocals soar above Rob's vast keyboard arpeggios and Chris Fry's vast electric guitar excursions. In contrast, the band transition into a more robust style that mixes string-laden soundtracks with powerful electric guitar in "Guirneca." Listen for the backing harmonies supporting Christina and the tender acoustic guitar part in the instrumental break.
The very tight rock track "Breathe" is clearly Magenta's next single. With all of Magenta's individual elements -- Christina's lovely vocals and backing harmonies, Chris Fry's powerful electric guitar and acoustic guitar breaks and Rob Reed's swirling keyboards -- the song is certain to be one of the band's crowd pleasers. "Turn The Tide" is a gentler, ballad-style track. The gorgeously produced number highlights Christina Booth's crystalline vocals sung primarily atop light keyboard and soft electric guitar. The quiet instrumental bridge finds Rob's keyboard and Chris' acoustic guitar echoing the melody.
The stunning progressive rocker "Book of Dreams" is certain to appeal to long time Magenta enthusiasts as it features the sounds that led to the band's critical acclaim on Revolutions, Seven and Home. Christina's powerful vocal lead is supported by especially lovely backing harmonies. Rob's diverse keyboard passages are tremendous. Chris Fry's acoustic guitar solo track is entitled "Reflections."
"Raw" is most powerful track of the album, perhaps illustrated by the multi-tracking of Christina's already-powerful vocals. Likely the second "single" from the album, "Raw" includes spledorous keyboard- and guitar-laced instrumentals at contrast with the quieter spot during the instrumental bridge. It is also certain to be a crowd pleaser at Magenta's live performances. Very characteristic of Magenta, "The Beginning of the End" makes a perfect bookend to the "Raw."
Chameleon concludes with the album's one extended track entitled "Red" with a running time of just over nine minutes. "Red" includes a memorable ballad section with warm instrumentals that complement Christina's chrystalline solo vocals. The track builds, as many from Magenta do, into a robust all-out instrumental that shows the players in full splendor. Chris Fry's guitar solos are incredible.
Magenta have amassed a wide international following since bursting onto the scene with Revolutions ten years before Chameleon. Now having found their stride, we can clearly look forward for further excellence from Britain's top progressive rock acts and this great team of musicians. Christina Booth is clearly one of Musical Discoveries favorites.