Sebastian Hardie is the premier example of symphonic rock from Australia - a country where music in this vein is either very rare or unheard of. Hardie's recorded music seemed to be the inevitable consequence of the arrival of the mellotron in Australia and the musical influence of the Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, and the English progressives.
The band was formed in the late 60s by Peter (bass) and Alex (drums) Plavsic. As with many groups of this type, they began by playing cover tunes in the Sydney area for many years. It was the arrival of Mario Millo (guitars, vocals) and Toivo Pilt (keys and synths) that completed the group formation and the quartet recorded their debut album Four Moments. The album, a symphonic opus of a melodic and accessible nature, was released in 1976, went double gold in Australia and was widely imported. The song "Rosanna" also won an award in Australia for best instrumental single.
The band went on to record a second album in 1976, Windchase before breaking up due to musical differences. Millo and Pilt, with new rhythm section Doug Blight (bass) and Duncan McGuire (drums), formed a new band taking on the name of Hardie's last album. Windchase recorded one album, Symphinity in 1977, remaining fairly close to the Sebastian Hardie sound. The band broke up after that, the musicians going their separate ways.
Mario Millo went on to become a highly regarded soundtrack composer for Australian TV and films. His (co-written) and award-winning soundtrack for Against The Wind sold half a million copies worldwide, The Lighthorseman won an Australian award for Best Original Musical Score, and Brides Of Christ was Emmy nominated and won several awards such as best soundtrack by the APRA. Toivo Pilt became a much requested writer for TV commercials (Coca Cola, KB draft beer, and Franklin Mint among others) and currently sits on the judging panel for the Australian film industry awards. Peter Plavsic became A&R director for Polygram and then BMG. Alex Plavsic became professional manager for Chappel music and owned and operated there of Sydney's most successful CD stores. The original quartet began playing together in the 90s in plans for a reunion and accepted the invitation to headline at Progfest 94. They played music from both Sebastian Hardie albums, Windchase Symphinity, Millo's 1979 solo Epic III and others.
(originally reviewed as part of Progfest '94 Preview, Exposť #5,
p. 15, Edited for Gnosis 5/11/01)
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