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Ovrfwrd - Fantasy Absent Reason CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.77 | 24 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Describing the music of Ovrfwrd presents a welcome challenge, worthy of the music itself. The Minnesota quartet plays a muscular throwback style of rich, instrumental '70s rock, complex and exciting but without sounding retro in any way, all built around tightly woven Crimsonesque knots of electric guitars and keyboards: no vocals, and better off that way. It's no surprise that the group is currently touring in support of Tony Levin's STICK MEN trio, obvious kindred spirits offering an ironclad endorsement by association.

But calling it Heavy Prog only waves a hand in the general direction of the band's musical ambitions. There's plenty of finesse to match their unmistakable power: the slow, romantic vistas setting up "Dust Nova"; the elegant ambiance of "Creature Comforts". And is that a genuine flute I hear, augmenting the agitated intro to "Utopia Planitia"?

The extended title track at the top of the album is a declaration of principles, all by itself: only 16-minutes long (a blink of the eye, by Prog standards), but able to shift the listener's ears sideways around his head when played at a suitable volume (i.e. loud). Note the gentle harpsichord keyboard patch, before the power chords begin their relentless descent: a moment of pure Prog opposition, leading into a smoky after-hours organ vamp and another edgy guitar solo. Almost immediately we're grasping for toeholds on constantly shifting yet entirely comfortable terrain, in what has to be one of the more exciting album openers of the previous year.

All the music was tightly arranged, but the quartet knows how to jam as well, in an intuitive way that renders the effort all but invisible. Listen to the groovy "Brother Jack McDuff" (presumably named for '60s jazz organist and bandleader Eugene 'Jack' McDuffy), with its bluesy early Tull vibe, complete with quasi-woodwind keyboard setting. Here and elsewhere the music reveals an occasional jazzy accent, in this instance set to a swinging 3/4 time signature (except when it morphs gracefully to 11/16). But it certainly isn't Jazz.

And it isn't quite Rock either, despite the unmistakable Hard Rock authority of the songwriting and performances. My advice is to stop fussing about labels (a difficult task, for any true Proghead) and simply enjoy the music. Even without the necessary vowels, Ovrfwrd is one of those rare bands able to challenge a listener's expectations, and thus offer legitimate hope for an increasingly dumbed-down millennium.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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