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RPWL - The Gentle Art of Music CD (album) cover





4.12 | 62 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'The Gentle Art Of Music' - RPWL (Compilation)

Generally, when I come into contact with a song compilation, I'm either very familiar with the group already, or they are world-famous and the compilation simply lists off tracks that everyone has heard on the radio many times before. With that in mind, this 'best-of' collection of tracks and renditions from German progressive rock band RPWL comes as a refreshing exception, and the band has easily gained themselves another fan with this release.

'The Gentle Art Of Music' (the name being an homage to one of their grander tracks) is essentially divided into two portions. The first is a simple trip through the band's career, going through some of their more noteworthy and fan-favourite songs. While the first disc may sound like a run-of-the-mill 'best of,' the second disc gives the release a bit of a unique flair; taking some of their songs and remixing them into new, interesting versions. While the first disc is obviously meant for people like me who have never heard of this talented act before and the latter disc is to give something for the fans to dig into, both discs have alot to offer, although it is certainly the second disc that goes the extra mile in making this compilation so interesting.

Despite one of the least-catchy band names in the scene, RPWL quickly proves to be a very strong and emotionally resonant act. From the first track 'Hole In The Sky' onwards, there is a more or less consistent string of good music flowing for a whopping two hours of disc time. While the music itself is very good however, their influences are clear from the start. The band skirts the rift between Pink Floyd and Hogarth-era Marillion, taking spacey passages and melding them with memorable melodies and beautiful harmonies.

While the first disc feels somewhat derivative from larger acts, it still has some incredible sections that all stand out, as well as a grand sense of songwriting and performance. Still, amidst the strong tracks, there are still a few that fall below the radar. The arguable highlight of the entire compilation is the de facto 'title track,' 'The Gentle Art Of Swimming;' an epic, spacy masterpiece that could rival Porcupine Tree's 'Arriving Somewhere, But Not Here' any day. However, following that is 'Sun In The Sky' which while being a competent track by all accounts, has a chorus that feels a bit too anthemic and borders on being irritating after a few listens. In any case, the weaker moments are few and far between here.

The second disc takes a while longer to grow, but it is indeed the noteworthy section of 'The Gentle Art Of Music.' Here, both existing fans and newcomers to RPWL can enjoy some fresh mixes, as well as some new material altogether. Although I have not heard the material from which these tracks derive, I can tell there have been some adjustments. RPWL douses their songs with a dose of classical and raga influence to give them an exotic, almost otherworldly feel. While tracks such as 'Cake' do very little for me, there is a fair amount of really fantastic tracks here, specifically the amazing conclusion to the compilation; 'Bound To Reach The End.'

RPWL is certainly a band to look out for in the progressive rock scene. While I may have not enjoyed this compilation so much had I heard the band's music before, I can safely say that the music of this German prog group has left an impression on me. As is the objective for most compilations; 'The Gentle Art Of Music' has gained RPWL a new fan in me.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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