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Presto Ballet - Invisible Places CD (album) cover

INVISIBLE PLACES

Presto Ballet

 

Crossover Prog

3.61 | 84 ratings

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ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Invisible Places" is the 3rd album of American retro-prog formation Presto Ballet, led by Metal Church guitarist - Kurdt Vanderhoof. This time more than half of band's musicians were replaced, we have new vocalist, keyboardist & bassist here. Anyway I have to admit that these changes are very welcome because after very solid debut album and slightly weaker (but still good) second output, "Invisible Places" seems te be their pinnacle! Everything seems to work perfect here and their retro-style shines more than ever. I especially have to praise Kerry Shacklett who is a truly fantastic keyboard-player, his wide range of old school equipment (Hammond organ, electric & acoustic pianos, mellotron, Moog synthesizer etc.) is astonishing and he always manages to "stay on top", never being overshadowed by Kurdt's electric guitar wailing.

1. "Between the Lines" - album begins with great track driven by fat organ chops and analog/digital synthesizers + metallic guitar riffs. Very catchy & memorable tune with fantastic vocals by new member - Ronny Munroe. All in all it sounds very much like Kansas from early 70s but with more aggressive vocals and harder edged guitar delivery. Some fantastic mellotron/organ interludes in the middle! And lots of great acoustic guitar moments! Overall stunning piece.

2. "The Puzzle" - electrifying intro with swirling Hammond and crunching guitar riffing, followed by lovely piano tune makes a good start for "The Puzzle". In general piano plays very important part in this song and it's a very welcome factor. After almost 3 minutes Ronny Munroe starts to sing and it's another solid performance. Refrain is very memorable and has almost sing-a-long feature, but it's miles away from being cheesy/poppy of course. Good Moog runs (near the end of the track) included.

3. "Sundancer" - it's softer composition compared with previous ones. More synthesizers than organ-driven this time, but in the middle section we can can still listen to some fast tempo Hammond runs so everything's as it should be. To sum up: proggy ballad a la Uriah Heep's "Circle of Hands" and alike. Probably the weakest track on the album I'm afraid.

4. "Of Grand Design" - begins with birds' sounds so "Close to to Edge" springs to your mind but it's not the case here. "Of Grand Design" is the first 12+ minutes epic on "Invisible Places" and I really, really like it but it has nothing in common with "Close to to Edge" except the beginning. It sounds more like mix of Kansas, early Styx, Uriah Heep and Birth Control. Kerry Shacklett's Hammond organ runs are especially heavy & they're driving this piece perfectly, while his organ solo showcase in the middle is especially worth to be mentioned. But don't be mistaken, "Of Grand Design" included also many calmer moments with synth/piano passages.

5. "One Perfect Moment" - the shortest song of this release isn't bad at all too. Very enjoyable heavy prog/hard rock in the vain of Deep Purple or Birth Control (and you can find this kind of songs in Don Airey's & Ryo Okumoto's last solo albums too). Quite straightforward but with highly entertaining organ & guitar leads.

6. "All in All" - this one surprisingly begins with Pink Floyd-ish synthesizer sounds but after few seconds everything comes back to standard Presto Ballet style. It's still interesting composition where slow & dynamic fragments are incorporated perfectly to keep listeners happy. Organ solo is a top notch here, it has truly 70s "feeling" for me. Crazy organ/Moog crescendo in the end is also great.

7. "No End to Begin" - second, the longer epic is probably my favorite track of the album. It's a real multi-part mini-suite which begins very mellow (acoustic guitar, synths, relaxing vocals) but as the time goes on "No End to Begin" shows its "claws". Especially long, elaborated Hammond organ solo in the middle of the suite is a wonderful culmination of preceding "tension". In the second part we can also witness some fantastic piano melodies & glorious mellotron waves.

To summarize: "Invisible Places" is definitely my favorite album recorded by Presto Ballet. It sounds like culmination of their career but I still hope that they will be able to "beat it" in the future. All fans of Kansas, early Styx & Journey, but also Uriah Heep, Birth Control & Deep Purple should check it out. If you like such analog keyboards oriented heavy prog you should also check such retro-prog bands like Wicked Minds, Standarte, Black Bonzo, BigElf, Cosmic Nomads, Storm at Sunrise or The Divine Baze Orchestra.

Best tracks: "No End to Begin" & "Between the Lines"

Fully deserved 4,5 stars from ozzy_tom

ozzy_tom | 4/5 |

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