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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

Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Pan: An Urban Pastoral is a winding but leisurely journey that gradually increases in both intensity and number of engaging musical themes. For a band classified as heavy prog, this album is decidedly symphonic, relying especially on fluid keyboards and agile instrumental passages. I won't pretend to grasp the convoluted prologue in the CD's booklet (which irritatingly alternates between present and past-tense verbs)- suffice it to say it crafts a juxtaposition of an impassioned satyr deity from the wilderness with an unnamed modern youth, of the city, one who is bored and desensitized. Overall, the album is a tremendous achievement, one I have enjoyed visiting. The two highlights of the album are the numinous keyboards of Jim Waugaman and the striking vocal performances of Ashley Peer, whose inflection makes me think of Linn Berggren of Ace of Base. The glaring flaw of the album is the middle section, particularly the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth tracks, which, although containing some good ideas, are very choppy compositions. The final trio of tracks are undeniably the highlight- emotionally everything the album builds toward, and what I look forward to each time I enjoy Pan: An Urban Pastoral.

"Prelude" A vintage-sounding instrumental opens the album.

"Invocation" Many people speak in a variety of languages.

"Pan's Labyrinth" The moment I heard the whistling synthesizer lines fluttering over heavy rock accents, I knew I would be in for a treat. The bulk of the track takes the form of upbeat, jazzy keyboard-led rock. I particularly love the sounds of the bass and drums, both of them light and airy, not stifled by effects or too much volume.

"Those Who Remember" The sounds of the crowded city fill the beginning of this track, which fade away, leaving the song of birds, quiet music, and a stunning, hypnotic female vocal in its wake.

"Chaosong" This is a beautiful musical theme.

"Sidewalk Soliloquy" Contrasting the handsome feminine vocals from before, a harsh male's singing grates over a clean background from the band.

"Chaosong Reprise" The theme of "Choassong" returns with a fuller ensemble.

"Denouement of a God" Continuing with the rhythm of "Chaossong," this adds raspy vocals.

"Le Defile Satyrique" Light percussion fills this brief interlude.

"Maenads, Melody and Meter" As the intensity builds, Peer's strong vocal becomes slightly shrouded in spellbinding effects, offering a more regal performance.

"Ubi Sunt" Here is another short song featuring harsh vocals. The music remains light, depending on drums and piano.

"The Seduction of Daphnis" The vocal melody doesn't flow with the erratic, powerful rhythm, even though it shares those characteristics. The music sits in contrast with that imperial voice's reappearance over light piano.

"Nectar of the Gods" The album suddenly changes texture, becoming something quirkier and frankly, a trifle harebrained.

"Youth's Denial" The music returns to more solidly symphonic turf, relying on piano, organ, and jarring vocals.

"The Temptation of Icarus" A heavier bit of music, this features exquisite drumming.

"Selene Rising" The prelude to one of the best songs on the album uses various rhythms and tempos in a short span of time; in terms of tone, it reminds me very much of Styx.

"The Tears of Selene" At last, the most enchanting segment of this album takes off: Mystical tones, acoustic guitar, and Peer's commanding voice make for a superior symphonic song, complete with a memorable and captivating refrain. The delicate bass and piano interplay throughout the middle is superb, reminiscent of Renaissance.

"Erato's Pulse" Peer's nearly a cappella voice builds mightily, culminating in a majestic synthesizer passage. The almost exotic melodies and unusual cadence, followed by mystical music, create a captivating experience. The instrumental midsection is a lengthy passage with Eastern influences.

"Silhouette" The closer opens with a pleasing groove alongside shimmering keyboard tones. While the song is repetitive, it in no way becomes wearisome.

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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