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Grand Stand - Tricks Of Time CD (album) cover

TRICKS OF TIME

Grand Stand

 

Symphonic Prog

4.13 | 68 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Here is a Swedish band with 2 releases that are both rated above 4 and yet doesn't seem to get any love, probably due to the fact that Grandstand has not followed up with any new material since 2002. Pity, as this was an above-average talented crew, particularly the dynamic duo of the dexterous Olov Andersson on keys and the unyielding Tomas Hurtig on drums, 2 ultra-solid musicians of world class caliber who started out as a Genesis tribute band. Their debut, all-instrumental "In the Middle, On the Edge" is a brilliant example of vocal-less prog with stellar flourishes and convincing compositions. Only an omen of better things to come.

"Tricks of Time" introduces a singer-bassist and a superb guitarist to the mix and the results are worthwhile beyond your wildest expectations. Veteran producer and artist in his own right Hansi Cross handles the production with Swedish precision. The dynamics are impressive right from the whopping opener "Jurassic Spark", lush keyboard patterns with the entire arsenal of instruments out on parade, synthesizers leading the charge on one hand and Michael Renk Jensen's sweltering Fender interventions on the other. The short 4 minute instrumental "Words Are Not Enough" is right out the debut album in terms of style where pounding drums, piano ruffles, organ hustles and synth whistles coexisted so happily. "Waiting for Water" is the most accessible piece here, a moody lullaby with incredible self-discipline, a bellowing guitar screaming above the symphonic oasis, clearly influenced by the legendary Camel. The deliberate pace is gentle and dreamy with an "aaaaah" voice mellotron backing that recalls 10cc' "I'm Not in Love", Renk Jensen explodes oozily like a starry sky of suave sounds while Olov unleashes a sweeping synth barrage that would make the Tony Bankman proud. "Empty Barrels Rattle the Most" despite its rather impressionistic title is a full bore assault on the symphonic senses, the melodies are clear and concise , not too simple or overtly complex but enough technical attention aimed at creating a mood of comfortable numbness. A quiet mid-section with humming pedal-effected guitars recall the finest Hackettisms , floating organ pools shimmering with flute synth patches and then, out of the blue, amid thundering drum/guitar salvos, a slippery Moog solo that devastates all in its passage and a finger-pickin'-lickin' axe solo to wake you up, just in case. If you are a solist then just do it and they both account for themselves rather brilliantly. "Old Man's Tale" is a16 minute epic flight that somehow does not get boring or tiresome because the artists keep things in perpetual effervescence, from the puerile organ intro to the slow buildup using acoustic guitar and finally the outright jazzy "set the controls to the heart of the sun' Latin-tinged main melodic line. Hurtig in particular propels this theme nicely forward, giving the rhythmic foundation for Jensen's excruciating guitar phrasings to flutter above the pulse. Various tempo and mood changes keep everything in breathless expectation, not to say all the piano, mellotron, percussion colorations go unnoticed. They are finely chiseled allies in a cause that is rewarding to the patient listener. Yes, Goran Johnsson is not the finest singer in progland but neither is he the worst, by any stretch. But this is an album that has met universal praise for its quality and can easily rival the venerated symphonic prog classics that adorn our genre. There is something for everyone except for the death-metal aficionado and the popfan for whom this is way too "pretentious" (love that anti-prog word , probably the most flattering denigrating term ever, as if one has to feel sorry for having multiple talents). It's too bad that the band has seemed to have disappeared but in the meantime, "Tricks of Time" will bamboozle your tail, if you get my drift. Nothing weak here at all, just perfect sympho-prog. . 5 aqua halts

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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