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Moon Safari - A Doorway To Summer  CD (album) cover

A DOORWAY TO SUMMER

Moon Safari

 

Symphonic Prog

3.49 | 175 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars There are times when I really wonder whether I will ever understand progressive rock, even after 35 years of devotion and self-inflicted Gabrielesque belief that "I know what I Like"! Idiot Me! ; It still manages to knock me for an unexpected loop. I purchased Moon Safari with clenched eyes, on the strength of learning the Tomas Bodin association in producing this debut, so I figured, ha! I can't go wrong with that! I have listened to it once, absentmindedly labeling and shelving it as Prog-Lite , a bit like that Alter Echo album I bought way back when (strangely also from Sweden!). Well, a few years have gone by and I finally fished out this yellow-jacketed sucker from my sizeable collection and gave it a second whirl. As the band members openly suggest, this is summer music, breezy wind-in-your- hair sonic ear candy and loaded with "pada-dapa-dapada" vocal harmonies that would make the Beach Boys drool with envy. Truth is that having first rate vocals is a sad Prog rarity, especially when we still anoint Greg Lake with top vocalist honors in 2009! I mean really, where are all the great lungs? Both Simon Akesson and Petter Sandström have luscious almost angelic voices, crystal pure and limpid which works very well with the liberal use of Mellotron , especially the choir samples. "Doorway" starts off with nary a prog whiff, sounding more like a polished pop band from the US West Coast, doing the surfer soundtrack to California Dreamin'! Last prog tune featuring harmonica? Anybody ? Well this is probably what threw me off, as this is a seriously unexpected affair, as Sandström blows a mean mouth organ. Not my cup of aqvavit , I must say. Anekdoten, Landberk er.. Anglagard? Not exactly! "Dance Across the Ocean" is actually the first hint of a strong Beatles influence that will show up regularly from now on (especially vocally and the occasional rhythm guitar riff, oddly), with fine piano and fluttering synth playing, some of those previously mentioned "papa" flights and some dashes of fabled Mellotron. This is pretty cool stuff though as the Yes/Starcastle/Styx influences kick in. "A Sun of Your Own" possesses an incredibly memorable vocal theme, huge sweeping harmonies, swirling counterpoints that boldly go beyond anything Yes or any other vocally gifted Prog bands have ever recorded. Graceful structure and elegant piano are the instrumental hallmarks. By the time we get to the Gates of Progland, a.k.a the epic 24 minute showpiece, "We Spin the World", the mood has shifted into outright recognizable definitions with the inevitable Yessisms (trebly bass ā la Squire, zooming Howe-ish guitar rampages, honky organ and symphonic keyboard bombast) but with an obvious personal touch highlighted by the intricate vocal work that recall the Beatles, Starcastle, Queen and even CSNY . Akesson provides a whistling synth solo that scours the horizon while fleet guitarist Anthon Johansson surprises with both acoustic and electric interventions. Drummer Tobias Lundgren keeps the beat alive with some fabulously tight rhythms. The finale is pure grandiose fanfare with that "feel good" Prog epic buzz we all are so eternally grateful for and which we ultimately crave. An excellent piece of music that frankly alters one's feelings towards the positive. That first track is really the great deceiver. "Beyond the Door" begins as a startlingly melancholic piano etude, full of romanticism and carefree simplicity that opens into a harrowing vocal/choir fest that features more majestic Tron work, slide guitar recalling "you know who" and some synth bubblings to close off the deal on a cheery positive note. Hey, Scandinavian prog does not have to be always about doom, gloom, Odin's table, Valhalla winds and Viking raids! I will skip the first track because the rest is way more interesting. ZowieZiggy may reconsider his rating (just like I changed my opinion, pegging it initially with 3 stars) if he finds the right island. 4 lunar treks
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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