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Moon Safari - A Doorway To Summer  CD (album) cover

A DOORWAY TO SUMMER

Moon Safari

 

Symphonic Prog

3.49 | 176 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Moon Safari: A Doorway to Summer [2005]

Rating: 6/10

A Doorway to Summer is the debut album from Swedish progressive-rock group Moon Safari. Many modern symphonic-prog bands are criticized for being too firmly rooted in a "retro" aesthetic; in other words, they try too hard to sound like bands from the 70s. This criticism is often unfounded, and even when it is accurate, I don't understand why it's supposed to be a bad thing. Moon Safari's unorthodox approach to symphonic progressive-rock has caused quite a stir within modern prog circles. Don't let the term "unorthodox" give you a false impression; Moon Safari are not an experimental band by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, they incorporate elements into their sound that one would never expect to find on a symph-prog record. These epic long-form compositions are augmented with light, cheery, and - dare I say it - POPPY vocal melodies. Each band member sings, creating layers of light vocal textures that are found more frequently in 1950s barbershop quartets than in progressive-rock. While I have a lot of respect for this innovative approach to symphonic-rock, I found this debut album to be artificial and saccharine.

"Doorway" is a fantastic opening track. This is a very light and pastoral piece with gorgeous vocal harmonies and an exciting conclusion. "Dance Across the Ocean" steps up the tempo to a much jauntier pace, and it doesn't serve the band well. While this is a fun track, it sounds rather sterile and uninteresting. "A Sun of Your Own" returns to the light pastoral atmosphere, but it sounds equally artificial. The melodies here are certainly nice, but it sounds too glossy. "We Spin the World" is a sprawling 25-minute epic. The band explores many different sounds here, including hard-rock and folk. Unfortunately, the majority of this track is underwhelming. There are some great passages, particularly the semi-acoustic conclusion, but this is a rather bland epic overall. "Beyond the Door" is a relatively short piano-driven reprise of the opening track. The piano work is excellent, but this feels like a rehash rather than a reprise.

A Doorway to Summer is an enjoyable debut album from a band that clearly isn't afraid to take risks. Moon Safari already had their distinct sound pegged here, but it sounds underdeveloped. The album is coated in a layer of sweet gloss that obscures most traces of genuine emotion. There are some great ideas at play here, but not all of them manage to properly pan out. I love happy progressive-rock - Yes and The Flower Kings are two of my all-time favorite bands - but the sugary sweetness exhibited here sounds a bit trite. Still, this is a fun record. Anybody who can tolerate a bit of musical glucose should be able to gleam some enjoyment out of this.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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