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Relocator - Relocator CD (album) cover

RELOCATOR

Relocator

 

Progressive Metal

3.84 | 64 ratings

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rustedsynapse
4 stars Relocator does not need Derek Sherinian.

Let me explain. Some history is in order.

Relocator is the creation of Michael Pruchnicki and Stefan Artwin; between them they penned their self-titled debut album. Both men reside near the city of Nuremburg, Germany - an ancient city that was once considered to be the trade capitol of The Holy Roman Empire.

It is a city whose history is rich in the experience of being at the crossroads of human invention and artistic frontiers for over 400 years - how can one not be influenced by the long shadow that it casts? It is a conundrum, a microcosm of nations, modern with a deep respect and reverence for the past though with an excitement and passion in its designs for the future.

Nuremburg's economy has always had the interesting dichotomist interplay between the industrial and mechanical arts and the fine arts: why at one point the city was known as the "industrial heart of Bavaria" - and this was after playing host to the advances and premieres of such humanistic endeavors as astronomy and printing. Europe's first known print shop was opened here, leading to the publication in 1515 of Durer's charts of the northern and southern hemisphere star fields as well as the introduction of Copernicus' famous, groundbreaking heliocentric model of our solar system, first seeing print in 1543. Nuremburg is also known for the quaint commodities of gingerbread and toys. Eclectic that, no?

This is all to say that these men and their music are reflections of this iconic, fascinating city and its pageant of disparate characteristics and personalities. Relocator's music is clean, muscular, and modern with an architectural lineage dating back to Nuremburg's old world baroque period that emphasized melody and harmonic clarity through contrapuntal form - as if capturing the very essence of the nexus that was Nuremburg - and as captured in the work of famous past resident/citizen Johann Pachelbel (1653 -1706).

Stefan Artwin has characterized himself as "being (more) a composer than a guitarist" on his website (www.stefanartwin.com) which makes him a kindred spirit of Pachelbel, though like fellow regional composer Mozart (an Austrian), he has taken the complex baroque form of this ancestral city and, through incremental repetition of themes and phrases, has produced deceptively simple yet complex arrangements for a more modern world - for a more modern Nuremburg, you could say.

Rather than take you through a song by song breakdown of the entire album (I'll leave that for you to experience), I would rather like to concentrate on the opening song "Red Vibes", composed by Stefan Artwin, as a perfect example encapsulating what I'm trying to illustrate.

Relocator opens the album with an anticipatory, galloping attack of Michael Pruchnicki playing the bass displaying the liquid dexterity of John Myung (Myung would love to have this kind of a mix), an introduction to the crystalline yet deep flowing river of bottom end upon which much of this album is built, amidst Stefan Artwin's tasteful, yet elusively solid foundation of guitar providing the landscape over which washes of Derek Sherinian's keyboard paint the background with dabs of soaring swirls and eddies.

The band quickly segues into a pounding, metronomic transition to a Derek Sherinian led jam that seems to slam us back in our seats and jettison us forward along the new Nuremberg-Ingolstadt-Munich High-Speed line; I was reminded of the clean, blue streaking train tunnel photograph of Marcus Keller that is actually used to highlight the band's namesake and title track, "Relocator", from the album book. It's an intoxicating introduction at the 1:17 mark. It is the sound of a cool, clean modern city on the move.

And then Stefan introduces a romantic theme that quickly engulfs the senses and seems to takes us on evening stroll down the ancient tree-lined streets of old Nuremburg, in the shadow of Spittlertor-Tower, where Bartek Strycharski's plaintive violin joins us and picks up on the theme with lovely grace and charm, only this time adding a dimension of nostalgia.

At 2:10 the "streaking tunnel" theme is reintroduced, though this time Bartek's electric violin joins the rush, an incremental repetition and development of the earlier established old world versus modern world vibe, giving the impression that we have left the cool blue tunnel and are now rushing headlong through the architectural remnants of the past - though having their place as standing monuments, they have assimilated with the new city - and Stefan soon emphasizes this statement as he takes the reins on the theme and plays a muscular, assured riff that seems to leave no doubt.

We arrive at a funky, jazzy, cosmopolitan interplay amongst the boys at approximately 3:10 - you can almost picture yourself in another cool blue venue, perhaps a modern club in the Hauptmarkt with paintings from the "Relocator" album book hanging under dim spots on the darkened walls - into which Bartek comes in with yet another refrain of reminiscence and memory of bygone days which Michael is soon to gather up and take under his arm, his bass line picking up the pace and ushering us out as if to say, "we shall not linger with our sights set on the past".

From here we have nearly a full minute of Derek's space symphonic pyrotechnics, rising and falling, constructing and deconstructing, all tumbling down and rebuilding itself as the band keeps pace to finally culminate under Frank Tinge's barrel roll of drums gathering it all in and herding the boys on into song's the climactic movement.

This is where, at the 5:15 mark, I would have loved to have heard a recapitulation of Stefan's "romantic" theme with Bartok playing amidst a swell of cellos and violas - a quick nod to the baroque musical lineage - just briefly until 5:30 and the full stop - from which then the band roars back to the future with Stefan's guitar leading the way rushing towards the end of the line and the song.

Now. Back to Derek Sherinian.

I understand the cache and marquee value of having someone of this caliber playing on the album; but I feel that at times Derek's keyboards - though breath-taking and masterful in and of themselves - rendered the album too sterile and futuristic and therefore impersonal at times, or rather, apart from the personality of what I find Relocator to be as outlined in my thesis. I would personally love to see Relocator take full command of their compositional roots and build upon the unique strengths and vision which is not only their heritage but is coursing through their very veins. It would be wonderful to hear more of the string family - violin, viola, cello and bass - incorporated into their music. In fact, on many occasions throughout the album, I could hear Bartok Strycharski playing Sherinian's lines, and I frankly would have found it more compelling if he had. Now, I am not espousing a radical change in Relocator's approach in regards to keyboards - I think that it's fundamental to their unique, "old world/new world" sound - I simply don't see the need to be as flamboyant (for lack of a better term) with them.

So, I guess I should say that they don't need someone like Derek Sherinian.

But, hey, that's just me. Who the hell am I to say? This is a wonderfully complex and compelling album that is recorded with depth and clarity and punctuation and is well worth the money and place within any music lover's collection. A superb debut. 4 out of 5 stars.

rustedsynapse | 4/5 |

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