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Persephone's Dream - Pan: An Urban Pastoral CD (album) cover

PAN: AN URBAN PASTORAL

Persephone's Dream

 

Heavy Prog

3.98 | 78 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Windhawk
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US act PERSEPHONE'S DREAM was formed back in 1993, and made their debut as recording artists in 1997. Two more efforts would follow before the band took a break in releasing material following their third effort "Opposition" in 2001, but in 2007 they returned with a new effort, after being signed by US label Progrock Records. "Pan: An Urban Pastoral" was released in 2010, and is the second CD they have made following their aforementioned pause.

Fans of the band will most likely be somewhat surprised when encountering this creation the first time around. While this ensemble previously have explored a heavy, energetic variety of progressive rock, this time around they have altered positions drastically as far as stylistic expression is concerned, and have chosen to venture into the field of symphonic progressive rock. And with a full fledged concept creation as well, the 19 tracks listed are in fact all parts of one massive composition, clocking in at just under 70 minutes.

And it's a varied landscape the band takes on, ranging from gentle sound collages to harder hitting material pointing back to this band's own musical past. But whether they explore gentle pastoral landscapes with angelic female vocals soaring above the instrumental motifs or they take on a more rough and energetic style with passionate lead vocals courtesy of Jim Waugaman, the symphonic textures are either hovering in the back, or just a few seconds away from appearing in the relatively few instances where the rhythm instruments and guitars are allowed to explore themes without aid.

And a few brief atmospheric excursions aside, it's the parts of the composition where the keyboards are given the dominating spots that are the most intriguing ones too. Alongside clever percussional details the synth arrangements and underlying themes provided by the tangents conjure up some remarkable atmospheres, and especially the slightly exotic sounding motifs that are given extensive playtime towards the end of this production can be breathtaking at best.

Other aspects of this venture fails to impress to the same level. The vocals are strong and passionate, but a bit too much on occasion. I do feel that some of the more elaborate instrumental arrangements featuring vocals on top could have come out better with a more subtle approach, and utilizing strong emotional vocal delivery as a sparingly used effect in these circumstances might have emphasized the lyrical contents just as well. The rhythm department may be just a bit too steady and not quite as adventurous as the circumstances might ideally dictate. We are talking about progressive rock and a concept album after all, and as many others listening extensively to this genre I readily admit being spoilt when it comes to experiencing top notch instrumentalists that seek out the outer limits of their capabilities.

Those misgivings aside, as well as a few compositional choices that seems to make more sense from a conceptual than from a musical point of view, the overall conclusion is that we're dealing with a rather good quality effort. Perhaps not as virtuosic as the great masters from the 70's and arguably slightly inferior in terms of compositional prowess, but making up a lot in terms of pure passion and emotion. I get the impression that the band has poured their collective hearts and souls into this venture, and this dedication adds a dimension to this creation that other more technically based efforts lack.

If you tend to enjoy symphonic progressive rock, have a soft spot for concept albums that by preference should be enjoyed in one sitting and find emotionally based creations at least as interesting as those crafted on more of a technical foundation, "Pan: An Urban Pastoral" is a CD that you'll most likely enjoy. Possibly more and more as time goes by.

Windhawk | 4/5 |

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