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Ovrfwrd - Fantasy Absent Reason CD (album) cover

FANTASY ABSENT REASON

Ovrfwrd

 

Heavy Prog

3.77 | 19 ratings

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Walkscore
3 stars Very close to 4 Stars!

The most recent album from OVRFWRD contains a lot of really excellent musical sections. The music is all-instrumental, with the band bio stating this is because the singer never showed up for the recording sessions, so the band just continued without a singer (!) I listen to a lot of post-rock and jazz too, and have never thought a singer was necessary. Saying this, when listening to both the first album (Beyond Visible Light) and this one, there are times when I felt the arrangement could have used something additional. While a lot of post-rock (and Krautrock, etc) is intentionally sparse, the music played by Ovrfwrd is more like YYZ or La Villa Strangiato, with a lot of structure and directionality, and there are a number of places where there are repeated chord progressions without soloing, so it seems to me there could be something else there. Not singing though, as I really like this music without any words. Then, eureka! - I got to the song "Utopia Planitia" on this album, and heard the flute that plays over top of the beginning and ending of the piece. Amazing tune! The flute adds just enough additional (improvised) counterpoint to the keys and guitars to fill out the sound and wake up the brain. At a number of times in the other tunes, the piano fulfils this function, and there are some great guitar solos there too. But for the sparser sections in the other pieces, I keep coming back to Utopia Planitia and wonder what those tunes would have been like with the flute. Utopia Planitia is so good, I have added it to my casual rotation, even after listening to the rest of this album a bunch of times. Even without the flute, I think this is the band's best song, but the flute elevates even higher. Very musical, with a great arrangement that does not interrupt the flow (unlike some of the other tunes) and keeps the listener tuned in right to the close.

Saying this, I also like the other tunes. My second-favourite is the closer, "Creature Comforts". Starting out with a really nice interplay between electric piano and jazzy guitar, then a repeated guitar hook brings in the main chord progression and melody. Great song! I only wish it were longer (its only 4 min - would have been a great 12-min epic). The other shorter tune, "Brother Jack McDuff" also works very efficiently, and I wouldn't have changed anything on this one. The remaining two tunes are the ones I think could most have used the flute or something similar. Dust Nova starts out soft and jazzy, with really nice piano and echo-y jazz guitar solo, it slowly builds to power-chord tune with both and guitars at times playing rapid 16th note patterns, but it still seems over-sparse. A flute playing over top would have nailed it ('nailed' in a good way of course!), especially during the build up and then afterwards right at the end as the song settles down. Finally, the long 16+ min title track that opens the album contains a lot of musical sections, although it seems to me overly fragmented. At times a great section dies right down to silence only to rise again with a completely different theme. There are some great organ and guitar solos in places, but those sections where the guitar or piano is playing power chords accompanied by repeated 16th-note patterns by the other instrument could have used some accompaniment. In particular, the main build-up between minute 10 and minute 14 in this piece would have really benefited from a flute or some other accompaniment (or even just a long improvised keys or guitar solo). Many of the chord progressions throughout this tune are built around the tri-tone (augmented 4th), which is still less common, but it generally works well here. I appreciate the non-standard chord progressions on these tunes - while most of the music is not super complex, a number of sections are quite musical and use non-standard chord progressions.

On the whole, this a very enjoyable album. There is not a bad track in the set, even if I think some of the pieces could have been even better. I give it 7.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is at the top end of the 3-star range. Very close to 4 stars!

Walkscore | 3/5 |

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