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Gekko Projekt - Electric Forest CD (album) cover


Gekko Projekt


Crossover Prog

3.30 | 20 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars These days it's common enough to discover an album by a band that was briefly active in the seventies and managed to get in with a record company that gave them at shot or two at putting their material to vinyl only to have the company show no further interest in the band and drop them into the oblivion dust of pop music's forgotten history. The long lost album begins attracting a handsome price among record collectors and before you know it, someone has released the album on CD.

If you didn't know any better, you could be excused for thinking "Electric Forest" by Gekko Projekt was just such an album. Right from the opening guitar notes, which remind me of an early inspiration for Iron Maiden's "Wasted Years", the album seems to have come from another time. The bass, the drums and percussion, the keyboards with their organ and moog synth sounds just sound so 1977/78 that you'll want to double check the release date. And then you might just think that they only released the album in 2012 but that it was actually recorded 35 years earlier.

But no, this debut album by California's Gekko Projekt is indeed a modern rock performance albeit in a very natural and unforced retro style. English-born guitarist, Peter Matuchniak tells us what a particle dance would sound like with his guitar as the album gets underway with an instrumental called "Particle Dance". As the rest of the band join in (Vance Gloster on keys, Rick Meadows on bass, and Alan Smith on drums) we find ourselves in a jazz/rock fusion world of science fiction. Peter's guitar playing sounds remarkably like a young hot shot guitar player of 1977 showing his licks and hoping he'll make the big time. Vance Gloster on the other hand impresses with smooth keyboard sounds that are reminiscent of classic Camel.

Track two is "Black Hole" but it's not about space and physics. It's an interesting rock song with a vocal style that one reviewer likened to older Alice Cooper. Reading other reviews, some people love this song while others find it the weakest on the album. I join ranks with the former. At first it really does sound like some unknown band reaching for radio attention with a tough but sensitive guy voice. But once the chorus gets going it's easy to imagine that this song might have made it to the weekly top 20 somewhere way back then.

Most of the album is actually instrumental and showcases the lead abilities of Peter Matuchniak and Vance Gloster. Peter has a kind of Steve Hackett / Steve Howe style mixed in with his own secret recipe and Vance's keyboards sound like Pink Floyd but played to Camel or Happy the Man. It is in fact the vintage keyboard sounds that endear me most to this album. Though the bass and drums don't roam into symphonic prog territory, they do hold down the rhythm fortress with more than just simple beats and notes. The bass guitar sound really stands out and though it's often set to repeat for a few bars, the bass notes sound very cool.

Two other songs appear amidst the instrumentals: "Avatar Jones" and "October Skies". These tracks are longer and here is where the music explores different routes a little more. However, don't expect this album to be very technical or complex. Atmosphere is given prominence in many a track and simplicity reigns over much of the album, allowing the lead musicians to show their stuff without exerting too much prog muscle.

I find this to be an album full of its own charms. The sound of the instruments and even the production, not to mention the vocals, really capture that lost band of '77 feel. The guitar sound is sometimes a little harsh, but that's also part of the charm. If you should listen to this album before buying it, don't just listen to "Particle Dance" because that track will surely convince you that this album is a must for your collection. Listen a little more first.

I dislike having to star rate this album. I'd feel better grading it 75% and recommending it to people who would think that this is right up their alley. But I know other people are possibly looking for something more complex, with more prog muscle. A worthy debut with potential for the band to take things to the next level. But wait! That might just be coming up on the next album by Gekko Projekt, their 2015 release "Reya of Titan". Hold on!

FragileKings | 3/5 |


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