I guess I should start with a disclaimer. Dan Swanö is a genius in my book, so factor that in as you read this review! This release is unlike anything Dan has done before. Unicorn was his prog band that he started in his late teens. “A Collection of Worlds” was originally recorded back in the late 80s. The young band recorded it themselves in a very basic demo way. They did the best they could but didn’t have a proper studio at the time.
Clearly, Unicorn has held a special place in Dan’s heart because he set about trying to update those very primitive demos and add new vocals to this mix. He gives an excellent essay on this process which explains just how much work was done to make this “resurrection” sound the way that it does. And certainly, the sound quality of this album is not one you’d assume to be an outdated 80s demo tape. The sound is fresh, bright and has plenty of power.
What about the music itself? Unicorn were definitely a band influenced by the British neo prog movement of the 1980s. There are definitely hints of IQ, Marillion and even Asia. The one area that is a little on the “cute” side is the lyrics. The line about getting “milk and donuts” in the track “Yellow and Greg” does make me smile. But the soloing on that same track makes you forgive whatever teenage lyrics might be somewhat cringe worthy.
Also, these are REALLY memorable songs. “Times of Change” and “Czarina of Vermillion” are so damn catchy that you will be singing along before too long. The music and melodies are VERY strong which is quite incredible for such a young band. You’d never guess it was a band of teens. The band also were great musicians too. The playing is very strong on every track. Sure there are some choices that maybe don’t quite work. Dan’s drum playing on “The Dumb” sounds a bit too eager but considering his age. It makes sense.
“A Collection of Worlds – Resurrection” is a brave project. But it shows the talent that Dan Swanö had as a teenager mixing with the talent that he has now. The rest of Unicorn should also be proud. Anders Måreby, Peter Edwinzon and Per Runesson each give stellar performances. Check out Måreby’s flute playing on “Lake of Time” for example. Clearly, “A Collection of Worlds – Resurrection” is a labor of love for Dan and it comes across that way. It’s more than just a sonic facelift. “A Collection of Worlds – Resurrection” is a complete sonic refurbishing.
1. Czarina of Vermilion
2. Yellow and Greg
3. Times of Change
4. The Dumb
5. Lake of Time
7. Exhibition of Souls
8. Tears of Joy