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Magic Pie - Circus Of Life CD (album) cover


Magic Pie


Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 281 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Circus Of Life' - Magic Pie (6/10)

Due in large part to personal experience, I have considered Magic Pie to be the band that represents modern artists playing 'prog', without being actually progressive. As one would expect, their debut 'Motions Of Desire' sported some great musicianship and virtually every cliche of prog rock music, and as such, there were quite a few enthusiastic fans. In any case, I never found myself really drawn to the sounds of Magic Pie, finding them derivative and sterile; two traits that I don't care to have in my prog listening. 'Circus Of Life' is arguably the strongest work in Magic Pie's catalogue, but it is bogged down by many of the same issues that hurt the debut.

Lovers of vintage prog should be happy that there is still music of the style being made, but- as I've stated many times before- there is not much that I find exciting about recycling the ideas of older bands. Regardless, Magic Pie start off their 'Circus Of Life' on a very strong note. They have a strong keyboard presence and instrumental sections that sometimes flirt with prog metal, but stay firmly rooted in a familiar Scandinavian prog style. As could be considered as typical for prog as a walk in the park, Magic Pie sports a forty-plus minute epic title track, split into five of the album's seven tracks. Throughout this behemoth, Magic Pie dabbles with a somewhat flimsy metaphor that life is a circus, but the instrumentation far outweighs the lyrics in this case. The first three parts of 'Circus Of Life' play through in a predictable, yet powerful fashion. The instrumental 'overture' track 'Freakshow' is particularly impressive, with Gilbert Marshall's warm organ tone blazing. By the midpoint point of the album however, it seems as if Magic Pie falls off the wagon a bit.

Specifically in regards to the twenty minute slice of the suite, Magic Pie seems to lose their interest in keeping things volatile and exciting. I enjoyed the first two or three tracks so much because the music didn't take too long to evolve into something new. 'Pt. IV: Trick Of The Mind' derails this by offering a twenty minute monster that should have alot more to say than it does, in terms of songwriting. Throughout this entire album, Magic Pie perform very well, weaving their way through techy instrumental sections with impressive tightness. The production crosses me as being cold and somewhat dispassionate, however. The two songs after the main dish feel more like afterthoughts to the 'Circus Of Life', but if you don't pay attention to track numbers, the division is not really noticeable. At an hour's length, the album feels like it could have used with at least ten or fifteen minutes shaved off of it. Magic Pie are excellent musicians and they even prove to me here what great music they can make, but in this case, the excesses of prog appear to get to them a little too much.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |


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