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Persephone's Dream

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Persephone's Dream Pan - An Urban Pastoral album cover
3.89 | 97 ratings | 13 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Prelude (0:39)
2. Invocation (1:17)
3. Pan's Labyrinth (7:28)
4. Those Who Remember (3:42)
5. Chaosong (1:24)
6. Sidewalk Soliloquy (2:50)
7. Chaosong Reprise (1:30)
8. Denouement of a God (1:02)
9. Le Defile Satyrique (1:32)
10. Maenads, Melody and Meter (3:00)
11. Ubi Sunt (1:12)
12. The Seduction of Daphnis (4:58)
13. Nectar of the Gods (3:12)
14. Youth's Denial (1:15)
15. The Temptation of Icarus (2:14)
16. Selene Rising (2:03)
17. The Tears of Selene (9:30)
18. Erato's Pulse (11:05)
19. Silhouette (8:44)

Total Time 68:37

Line-up / Musicians

- Ashley Peer / vocals
- Rowen Poole / guitars
- James Waugaman / keyboards
- Roman Prokopenko / bass
- Scot Harvey / drums
- John Tallent / percussion

Releases information

CD ProgRock Records ‎- PRR401 (2010, US)

Thanks to lancaihe for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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PERSEPHONE'S DREAM Pan - An Urban Pastoral ratings distribution

(97 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

PERSEPHONE'S DREAM Pan - An Urban Pastoral reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TheGazzardian
4 stars Don't bring the world into balance; bring your balance back into the world.

It is difficult to place this album, for although it does not sound particularly "out there", it does not have any glaring cliches to make it's categorisation easy. As such, it's placement in Heavy Prog is as appropriate as any other, despite the fact that there are moments in here that hint at Symphonic, Heavy, Eclectic, and even Folk prog.

The album is split into 19 songs of varying length, which tell a tale of disillusionment with modern city life and the hidden world of the gods of nature that is hidden beneath the surface of it all. Quite an ambitious concept, and although it does come with a story summary in the booklet, the lyrical and musical aspect of the album goes beyond what is written, giving the listener the ever-so-important chance to take what they hear and make something their own out of it, while at the same time giving listeners a common ground to start from.

Musically, as I mentioned above, the album features many different styles, but it is built such that it flows from one song to the next very naturally; like the very best concept albums, it would be very difficult to separate any of these pieces from the whole. And although the music can be so varied, one never feels jarred or confused by the way the album flows; it seems that the band thought this out very carefully and so moves from section to section with a certain grace.

To move the story forward, we are treated to the vocals of both Ashley Peer (who primarily sings as the Maenads) and Jim Waugaman (also the keyboardist). Both the singers are quite excellent, and bring the appropriate amount drama necessary for this style of album. I am particularly fond of the vocals of Ashley, who gives the music that oft-time missing in prog female aspect. The off-kilter vocals in Nectar of the Gods demonstrate that she is quite a flexible singer, and inject a little extra fun into the album.

My favorite part of the album is the section from Chaosong to Nectar of the Gods, a good chunk of the album. This is where Jim's vocals shine the most, "Give me offerings ...". There are also sections that sound somewhat pagan to me (maybe folksy is a better word) and these have a unique texture that I really enjoy.

But really there are no bad parts to this album. Ideas are succinct, varied, and dramatic - leading to what I can only describe as a great concept album worth many listens.

Review by jampa17
5 stars Exquisite is the word to describe such an impressive album. A 2010 masterpiece.

It's very difficult to describe the album. I will start saying what this is NOT. This is not heavy prog, not even close; this is a pure and simple (well, not that simple) symphonic prog with a lot of folk elements. Yes, there are a lot of conceptual albums and maybe this album is not groundbreaking, but the way this band aboard the concept, the care of every little detail, and the impressive extension of different styles and arguments worth the listen.

Now, the album start very slow paced and as it grows more and more styles are added and the story grows to come impossible to push the "stop" button. The keyboards are melodic and bring out a lot of retro 70's styles but keeping it fresh and nice; the bass is present all the way making very nice melodies and sometimes pushing some strange but lovely dissonances; the guitars are like a background element, strong and well measured and sometimes bringing out some cool solos and even some nice acoustic themes; The percussion and drums are quite refreshing, original and drops a lot of folk elements that is just wonderful to listen every "oddity" that came out always in an unexpected place.

The summoning of all those elements builds up an impressive journey. The music is strong and fresh, and it feels like a true band ensemble and the instrumental progressions remind me a lot of symphonic rock of the 70's, but always keeping it innovative. Now, maybe the thing that takes it to a complete new level is the vocals. Ashley Peer's vocals are at the top of the game, being dramatic, melodic and with a lot of character. I loved her style and the way the melodies are twisted giving a very strange sensation but impressive and different.

The album has 19 songs, a lot of them very short but all linked together to build up a flawless concept, extraordinary performed. The sound quality is quite great, nothing is missing, a well balanced sound and if that's not enough, even the booklet is great too. It has the story explained or at least presented in a way you can "get it". The art is great and is one of those albums I just can't stop listening.

5 stars. A total masterpiece that I hope people won't overlook. "Come- I'll sing to you the Chaosong..."

Review by J-Man
4 stars Come - I'll Sing To You The Chaosong!

Persephone's Dream is a band that has been around for quite a while, but never was fully recognized until the release of this, their fifth studio full-length. With 17 years under their belt, the band has released one of the best progressive rock albums to come out so far in 2010. Pan: An Urban Pastoral not only immerses the listener with its wonderful atmosphere and beauty, it also manages to impress the listener with instrumental prowess, amazing songwriting feats, and a terrific lyrical concept to top it all off. Add in the fact that Persephone's Dream is one of the most unique and original modern symphonic progressive rock acts around, and you have everything that's needed to amaze prog fans. Needless to say, this is not an album that should fall of the radar of any prog rock listener.

One thing that really amazed me about Pan: An Urban Pastoral was the incredible amount of patience it took to appreciate. When I first heard the album, I honestly wasn't too impressed. Luckily, a good 7 listens proved my lukewarm first impressions completely false. Although the album can be incredibly hard to digest at first, it's all worth it in the end. What once came across as a drawn out, pompous, and inconsistent collection of songs soon became a terrific, unique, and beautiful conceptual work of art. Although a there are a few (albeit small) moments of weakness throughout the album, the vast majority of this work is nothing short of incredible. The 70's symphonic prog style that is utilized throughout this album really helps give Persephone's Dream a stable foundation, but avant garde, heavy rock, folk, and Celtic influences give the band their own sound in an often extremely derivative genre.

As I mentioned earlier, Pan: An Urban Pastoral is amazingly consistent for an album of almost 70 minutes. There are a few moments that have weak melodies (notably in Nectar Of The Gods), but when I say moments I really do mean moments. Although there is a weak melody or two in the aforementioned track, it doesn't last for very long and soon returns to more strong music. I' m going to refrain from mentioning any other tracks simply because I want to emphasize that this entire album NEEDS to be listened to as one big long song. The relatively short songs typically aren't great as standalones, but that definitely changes when you hear the entire concept from beginning to end!

The musicianship is great on Pan: An Urban Pastoral. All of the musicians definitely know what they're doing, and they do it exceptionally well! I especially have to applaud keyboardist Jim Waugaman for his keyboard talents, but also for his terrific vocal pipes. The frequent vocal tradeoffs between himself and Ashley Peer add a lot of variation into Persephone's Dream's music.

The production is really good, although a bit of an acquired taste. It's much more raw and unpolished than most modern prog is, but that's a good thing in my opinion. The over-produced sound of almost all modern prog bands is really starting to bother me, so it's great to hear a band like Persephone's Dream who isn't afraid to go against the norm. The production has a distinct 70's sound throughout the album.


Pan: An Urban Pastoral is a fantastic 5th album by Persephone's Dream. After such a successful and enjoyable concept album, I simply cannot wait to hear where the band goes in the future. My rating will be 4 stars for a unique, enjoyable, and creative progressive rock release. If you like symphonic prog but not the really cheesy and derivative kind, I can't recommend this album enough!

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Beautiful! A strong candidate for album of the year!

Normally I don't start a review with words like that because I love to create some expectations in the readers, I mean you don't really know what I am going to say nor the rating I will bring, but with a title like that, you can imagine that I will speak positively about this extraordinary record, and maybe you can guess my final grade.

Also, if you know my writing style then you know that I like the "song by song" mode, but this time it won't be like that because this album features 19 songs, so describing each one of them would bore the readers, and would take actually a lot of time. So as I said, this album released this year (2010) by American progressive rock band Persephone's Dream features 19 compositions, the majority of them are actually short ones, but there are some five or six longer ones, including the final three.

So now you better put your headphones and sit, because you will have 68 minutes of great, great music, believe me. Now that I mentioned that there are a lot of short songs and some few long ones, I think it is important to say that no matter their length, all of them work together as a whole, as just one body that would not function if any of its parts does not work, what I'm trying to say is that every single part (track) on this album is essential, and helps enjoying the music better.

What you will find here, is a complex, dynamic, dreamy and powerful progressive rock sound, music that will take you to another world (if you allow it) and music that will create on you diverse images, stories and feelings. But well, there is something I would like to mention because it is important, I concur with previous reviewers who said that It takes time to appreciate this album, so please give it at least three listens if you want to receive all its messages and sounds.

The album will tell you a story: "Pan: An Urban Pastoral" so by the title you can imagine a little by what is it about, and what kind of music you will listen. Well, the first moment that caught my attention and made me say wow was the third track entitled "Pan's Labyrinth" which is a seven-minute instrumental song that offers quality, complexity and beauty in all its extent. Then, in "Those Who Remember" and "Sidewalk Soliloquy" you will listen for the first time both, male and female vocals, each one playing a different role, Ashley Peer represents the voice of the Maenads; Jim Waugaman the voice of the Urban Youth; and Dale Mossburg the voice of Pan.

The short instrumental tracks work together as a chain, all of them create different atmospheres that the listener can appreciate, so one can also create his own story and images in his mind. The work of the piano and keyboards is something that caught my attention since the first listens; I believe the different nuances and textures that they give help the music being more enjoyable and lovable to the people who are experiencing it.

Another thing I really like, is that when you think you are listening (by example) the fifth track, you actually are on track seven, I mean as the music runs you are so involved that in moments you don't notice where a track finishes and a brand new one appears, I mean, there are moments where you just listen to the music as a whole, you don't matter if there are 19 tracks on the album, you appreciate it as one.

"The Seduction of Daphnis" is another piece I really liked, because it gathers all the elements that can make you love the album: lyrics, music and all what together create. So I believe it is a pretty strong point of this album. And well, the last three tracks are the longest ones, almost half an hour of great music in only three songs, but the great thing is that there you will LOVE everything, I cannot help but praising this last part of the album, because it really provokes several thing on me, besides enjoying just the music. "Selene Rising" (short) and "The Tears of Selene" (long) comprehend together my favorite part of the album.

But well, please take the time to listen to this gem, buy it , you won't regret. I am really happy with this record, I truly enjoy it every single time I listen to it, and believe me there have been several before writing this review. Though at first I thought about a four-star rating, to be terribly honest what "Pan: An Urban Pastoral" causes on me, is worth rating with five stars.

Enjoy it!

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US act PERSEPHONE'S DREAM was formed back in 1993, and made their debut as recording artists in 1997. Two more efforts would follow before the band took a break in releasing material following their third effort "Opposition" in 2001, but in 2007 they returned with a new effort, after being signed by US label Progrock Records. "Pan: An Urban Pastoral" was released in 2010, and is the second CD they have made following their aforementioned pause.

Fans of the band will most likely be somewhat surprised when encountering this creation the first time around. While this ensemble previously have explored a heavy, energetic variety of progressive rock, this time around they have altered positions drastically as far as stylistic expression is concerned, and have chosen to venture into the field of symphonic progressive rock. And with a full fledged concept creation as well, the 19 tracks listed are in fact all parts of one massive composition, clocking in at just under 70 minutes.

And it's a varied landscape the band takes on, ranging from gentle sound collages to harder hitting material pointing back to this band's own musical past. But whether they explore gentle pastoral landscapes with angelic female vocals soaring above the instrumental motifs or they take on a more rough and energetic style with passionate lead vocals courtesy of Jim Waugaman, the symphonic textures are either hovering in the back, or just a few seconds away from appearing in the relatively few instances where the rhythm instruments and guitars are allowed to explore themes without aid.

And a few brief atmospheric excursions aside, it's the parts of the composition where the keyboards are given the dominating spots that are the most intriguing ones too. Alongside clever percussional details the synth arrangements and underlying themes provided by the tangents conjure up some remarkable atmospheres, and especially the slightly exotic sounding motifs that are given extensive playtime towards the end of this production can be breathtaking at best.

Other aspects of this venture fails to impress to the same level. The vocals are strong and passionate, but a bit too much on occasion. I do feel that some of the more elaborate instrumental arrangements featuring vocals on top could have come out better with a more subtle approach, and utilizing strong emotional vocal delivery as a sparingly used effect in these circumstances might have emphasized the lyrical contents just as well. The rhythm department may be just a bit too steady and not quite as adventurous as the circumstances might ideally dictate. We are talking about progressive rock and a concept album after all, and as many others listening extensively to this genre I readily admit being spoilt when it comes to experiencing top notch instrumentalists that seek out the outer limits of their capabilities.

Those misgivings aside, as well as a few compositional choices that seems to make more sense from a conceptual than from a musical point of view, the overall conclusion is that we're dealing with a rather good quality effort. Perhaps not as virtuosic as the great masters from the 70's and arguably slightly inferior in terms of compositional prowess, but making up a lot in terms of pure passion and emotion. I get the impression that the band has poured their collective hearts and souls into this venture, and this dedication adds a dimension to this creation that other more technically based efforts lack.

If you tend to enjoy symphonic progressive rock, have a soft spot for concept albums that by preference should be enjoyed in one sitting and find emotionally based creations at least as interesting as those crafted on more of a technical foundation, "Pan: An Urban Pastoral" is a CD that you'll most likely enjoy. Possibly more and more as time goes by.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars There's quite the buzz about this album and no doubt it will get a lot of top five votes for best record of 2010. In fact i'm the first to not give it 4 stars or more. I do like this album but as i've said many times before, concept albums aren't my bag. I mean it boils right down to how good the music is and I find most concept albums are more focused on the concept (the lyrics) which usually mean little to me. Not that I didn't try to appreciate the story here but the problem for me is that this almost 70 minute album (19 songs) has lots of passages that did little for me musically.

And this comes in right away with the first two tracks which may have lots to do with the story but talk about getting off on the wrong foot. Thankfully "Pan's Labyrinth" is a good song instrumentally especially later before 5 minutes to the end. "Those We Remember" opens with the sound of traffic before pastoral music with female vocals take over. Another good track is "Sidewalk Soliloquy" which is fairly powerful with male vocals.This continues as we go through some short tracks where we get both male and female vocals taking turns leading. Lots of mood and tempo shifts as well as we bob and weave through the story- line.

"Nectar Of The Gods" is different with the experimental intro before female vocals come in. This is followed by atmosphere. Nice. "Youth's Denial" is short but really good with male vocals. Lots of synths and a GENESIS-vibe on "The Temptation Of Icarus". The final three songs makeup almost 30 minutes of the album.This is where they stretch things out and re- visit themes. It works most of the time but by now i'm not into it so much.

I really think most of you will love this album. 3.5 stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Pan: An Urban Pastoral' - Persephone's Dream (7/10)

From the opening crackle of the album's haunting 'Prelude' onwards, there's an overwhelming sense that US act Persephone's Dream's 5th album 'Pan' is, if anything, wildly ambitious. While the formula of concept albums and rock operas is all very familiar in the progressive rock world, there are few that are so complex and require such intent and repeated listening to understand and appreciate. Such is both the blessing and curse of the curiously titled 'Pan: An Urban Pastoral.' While certainly a challenging listen in parts, the album- much like a labyrinth- is filled with structural subtleties and details that make the majority of the listen refreshing even after multiple listens. Sadly however, Persephone's Dream do appear to get a bit too immersed in their own ambition here, which leads to some unnecessary faults and flaws that might have been easily improved upon with a little moderation. Despite a few flaws and a somewhat weaker second half however, these US proggers have crafted a pretty impressive album, and 'Pan: An Urban Pastoral' stands as being one of the more rewarding albums I've had the pleasure of hearing in 2010.

Dedicating the album to such figures as composer Claude Debussy and filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (director of the acclaimed 'El Labyrinto Del Fauno'), it's clear where Persephone's Dream found their muses for the making of this album. 'Pan' essentially flows as a narrative fairy tale, at times playing through like an ethereal lullaby, and at other times taking things in a more rocking, almost theatrical direction that's a bit more typical of progressive rock. As with many albums of similar direction, 'Pan' is not a collection of songs, but moreso a running suite of music, using multiple recurring themes and motifs throughout the piece, intended to give a sense of cohesion. While this does do it's part, there is the feeling (especially towards the second half of the album) that the album could have really kept up a better pace, had the album not kept going back so much to other themes, and instead opted to make new beautiful moments to keep the album driven along. Up until the last three songs, the vast majority of the album takes the shape of many short suite-sections that flow beautifully and seamlessly together, and each throw in something interesting and unique, despite their brevity. While there is still a continuing sense of musicality during the three final tracks, the fact that the three of them are so long and draw out their ideas (much like a typical prog rock track!) feels like an unwelcome change, after having been exposed to the constant flow of ideas throughout the first half of the album.

In terms of production and packaging, there is nothing to complain about here. There is some absolutely gorgeous artwork and photography in the booklet, and a fitting album cover that reflects the storyline well. It's true that 'Pan' is indeed a concept album, and while the plot can be difficult to decipher through lyrics alone, Persephone's Dream have kindly written a 'short story' adaptation, introducing the reader and listener to the world of somewhat derivative fantasy, which essentially entails a young man being whisked away from his grey existence to a beautiful realm of nature, ruled by a faun. The storyline feels all- too much like 'El Labyrinto Del Fauno' to me- which can't be any small coincidence considering which director the band dedicated the album to- but it is a perfect foundation for their music, which beautifully reflects the fairy-tale nature of the concept.

On top of some absolutely gorgeous musical ideas scattered throughout the album like gems in a maze, Persephone's Dream boasts also boasts a fair deal of talent in their delivery. Possibly my highlight of the album is the section in which vocals are introduced; 'Those Who Remember.' I remember being blown away on my first listen of the album by the beautiful sound and harmonies of the female vocalist. Most of the vocal work here is excellent and very effective, and the instrumentation is quite pleasant, albeit not incredibly technical.

'Pan: An Urban Pastoral' was an album I was truly unsure whether I liked or not on first listen. It seemed a bit too ambitious for it's own good, and suffered from a weaker second half. While my stance on both of those issues hasn't faltered since the first listen, the great moments on 'Pan' have since gone on to overcome the album's weaker elements. A very good fifth effort from Persephone's Dream!

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I've given this album several chances over the past few months and have come to the conclusion that I just can't get past my distaste for the voice of Ashley Peer. Talented and skilled she is, I just don't enjoy her voice. I like Jim Waugaman's well enough (though he's often a bit over-dramatic), and the music is very nice, but I am often too distracted by my concerted efforts to try to like Ashley's voice, or by the effort to try to ignore her voice in order to give the music a chance. Despite all of this, I don't find this music quite so extraordinary or amazing as many of the other reviewers do. It is . . . okay. Kind of like PETER GABRIEL's first solo album mixed with a bit of the spirit and intellect of XAVIER PHIDEAUX. It's kind of light, fluffy, often feels tongue-in-cheek. I love the first nine songs (Ashley's voice in the higher registers is quite nice--kind of like CLAIRE HAMMILL or VIRGINIA ASTLEY, even ANNIE HASLAM ["Chaosong"]), especially "Invocation" and "Pan's Labyrinth [Instrumental]." But it is with "Maenads, Melody and Meter" that I begin to cringe: here we are introduced to the voice I can't seem to like. Despite some awesome piano playing and ANDREW LLOYD WEBER-esque singing by Jim during the next few songs, it just all becomes a bit too Broadway-like to me. Don't get me wrong: I love "Godspell" and "Chorus Line." I guess their stories are a bit more compelling to me. By the time we get to the three lengthy songs at the end I'm so on edge that I can't seem to enjoy myself. "The Tears of Selene" is a good THE REASONING song from the "Awakening" era. "Erato's Pulse" is good when Ashley's nasal-chest voice is absent (thought the synths are a bit 80s). "Sillhouette" is straight out of the techno hip 1980s la TOM TOM CLUB, BLONDIE/DEBBIE HARRY, ART OF NOISE, or even SIMPLE MINDS, NEW ORDER, DEPECHE MODE, or BANANARAMA. It does grow on you in a refreshing retro kind of way. Anyway, as for a rating: I cannot give this 3.5 star album an "excellent addition" four stars. It is good, but not essential.
Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Persephone's Dream have made an offering of melody and dense music, poured out onto a labyrinthine canvas of artistic beauty.

Persephone's Dream have provided an astounding triumph of symphonic heavenly headphone bliss. "Pan: an Urban Pastoral" is an astonishing achievement in progressive excellence. The album is a tour de force of passion and power. There are many variations in style but undisputed prog time sigs and structures throughout. Some tracks sound very accessible and at other times are totally dissonant or off kilter. The musicianship is virtuoso with many instruments played to perfection.

The concept is heavy and deeply grounded in solid mythological roots. The story of Pan, the labyrinth, the divinations of goddesses, Daphnis, Icarus, Selene and Erato are all encompassed in the sprawling storyline by Kelly Fletcher, given a modern twist. The CD booklet delves into the storyline in detail following the traditional tale of the protagonist youth who encounters nature in all its splendour, from the initial discovery of the leaf, meadows, the sky, and birdsong, the perpetual soundtrack of nature's lifeforce. This is dismissed as an hallucination, and then the concrete and mortar returns reminding him of the reality that nature had been stamped out by the hand of man. The pollution and squalor of the modern crowded city is deplorable to the youth, and he questions why this has happened; why has the violation of nature occurred. His questions lead him to his ultimate destiny. The disenchanted youth wanders in thought and kicks over a pot plant only to see a glowing leaf pulsing with an inner light, to the musical rhythmic patterns and he seems to merge to another time when the meadows were green and everpresent. He encounters the clawed Maenads, who sing to him of his destined lover waiting in the forest. He is to meet the Lord Pan, a horned faun of immeasurable influence on nature. The youth is transported into another forest where he meets mythical creatures, and Pan is there and sings to the youth, causing him to believe in the dream that his heart's desire will come to fruition. With a snap of the fingers Pan transports the youth back to the city. The nature god is surrounded by the massive buildings and crowds, and he instructs the maenads to tell the tale of his past youth, and each ones takes their turn to recount a piece of Pan's story.

To reimagine the storyline, the tracks on the album merge together, at times seamlessly, and the whole is actually greater than the sum of its parts. This album is best heard as one entire listen rather than fragments and pieces separated. The singing is excellent from the aggressive vocals of Jim Wauguman, the Urban Youth, to the soft tones of Ashley Peere, the voice of the Maenads, it never ceases to make this reviewer spellbound by its entrancing magic. There is a real sense of timelessness and the music tends to generate images of grand meadows, beautiful goddesses and darkened forests. The drumming of Scot Harvey is amazing, very solid percussion that focusses at times on triplets and fills and yet keeps a steady metrical pattern so that the songs hang together. Rowen Poole is a terrific guitarist and there are goosebump moments where the guitar chimes in with the violining technique or Gilmour-esque flourishes. Roman Prokopenko is an accomplished bassist and he keeps the rhythms pulsating in each track, at times with very complex basslines. John (J T) Tallent is brimming over with talent (he probably gets that all the time!) and he is great on tom toms, enhancing the tribalistic mystical soundscape. Jim Waugaman is a revelation on keyboards, with some innovative keyboard motifs, repetitive pulses mixed with intricate whirls and dervishes on moog, mellotron and organ. The synths are powerful and drive the album along with an uplifting majestic symphonic atmosphere.

There is also a modern injection of effects, notably the busy traffic of cars on an anonymous highway. There are enchanting sounds of birds whistling signifying happiness, there are a myriad of spoken voices that seem to represent the urgency of a new beginning, and there are rather ethereal effects that may represent tribal and jungle environments. The main drawcard is the music and overall structure, and there are moments where the musicians have a chance to shine in many instrumentals, all of which are well executed. The lengths of tracks varies dramatically, there are interludes, preludes, reprises, transitions and spoken pieces; 8 tracks all of which are less than 2 minutes long. There are some moderate length songs, and these are juxtaposed with lengthy tracks, 4 that clock from 7 to 11 minutes in length. After listening to the album a few times there are certain moments that simply shine like blazing fire and become familiar and joyous to the listener. When Ashley begins to sing the chorus of The Tears of Selene, it is one of the most uplifting moments in prog for this reviewer; a truly spine tingling track, and the quintessential highlight on the album. The whole thing should be heard in its entirety as one long album. However, a track by track analysis of the music may help to clarify why I believe this to be a prog masterpiece.

Prelude begins the concept and in effect follows on from the last song on the album, like a musical cycle, with a vintage scratchy effect; sounding like the stylus on vinyl crackling in the groove. The music is a solo flute sound, like a classical dirge.

This leads seamlessly to a quirky and unnerving montage of voices speaking in many languages, repeating phrases about Pan. Invocation is supposed to be voices of earth with the dramatis personae of Babel-esque tongues including French, Hindi, Cantonese and Indonesian.

This intros the wonderful 7 and a half minute instrumental, Pan's Labyrinth where the album really takes off. It begins with high pitched pan pipe sounds using a moog synthesizer. The keyboards are a dominant force, complimented by guitars and steady drums. There are some odd metrical figures and symphonic pastoral shades that are blended with furious triggerfinger keyboard shapes, Wakeman style. Hammond and mellotron attacks are augmented by sporadic drumming and a fusion of heavy prog riffs. It is a simply wonderful piece of music.

Those Who Remember begins with heavy traffic sounds, perhaps showing how nature has been overwhelmed by the concrete jungle of modernity. The track takes on a beauty of its own with Ashley's vocals that are high soprano and emotionally charged. The sweet presence of the keyboards is a dynamic sound. The song sounds like Mostly Autumn's style, nature, peace, the environment and the praise of creation at the forefront of the concept.

Chaossong chimes along with waterfalls flowing and birds twittering their peace song. The instrumental sounds like nature has found a voice and is crying out for freedom. The music surges along with peaceful bell tones and birdsong, an intro to the excellent following track.

"The world is dying, leaving me awake, aware, regretful for my life"; the vocals are given a powerful plea to awaken the sleeping ignorant humanity that destroyed the lush green forests for human greed and modernisation. Mid way through Sidewalk Soliloquy the time sig changes to a quicker tempo with some mystical female choral voices, beautifully harmonised representing the tale of the Maenads, the impending doom of natural creative forces fighting against the cemented sidewalks and massive manmade constructions suffocating the environment.

The next few tracks merge into another to create one long piece seamlessly fused together and it is difficult to tell where one ends and another begins. Denouement of a God is a song with a powerful beat and Jim's strong vocals as the Youth comes to grips with how nature has been destroyed. Le Defile Satyrique launches with an effect of rain cascading down with a drum pounding instrumental that works as a nice transition into Maenads, Melody and Meter. This song has a few time sigs that shift and change and the dynamic vocal of Jim; "make an offering of melody and sacrifice meter, don't pray to me, only come dance with me." Ubi Sunt has a wonderful melody and aggressive pleading vocals; "where are the woods, where are the herds, and the shepherd boys", as the protagonist surveys the carnage of modern life that has replaced the forests and green foliage with brick and mortar.

One of the best tracks is The Seduction of Daphnis that reprises parts of previous songs, and trades off between beauty and darkness, of tension and release, switching time signatures at will and using a variance of instruments to provide cadence and cascade. Ashley's vocals are more improvised and discordant to the music. Jim has some of his best vocals here; "make an offering of soul and body" and "run with me down to the willows, and lie down by my side." Ashley continues the feel of a magical dreamscape, and there is a heavenly harp sound. I love that lyric; "Come I'll sing to you the chaos song" by Jim and Ashley. The track has a surge of foreboding atmospherics with an emphasis on atonal music, minimalist piano at times, and blasts of Hammond and percussion.

The quirky weird and humoresque Nectar of the Gods is a playful carnival sound with some truly unique keyboards. The strange theatrical vocals of Ashley and bird whistles provide an early Genesis Gabriel like style. The drunken lyrics are as weird as it gets; "quick tipped, her glass to be, the first to drink, to drink insanity." Then after this vaudeville approach, it gets serious with a change in style. The low drone makes the atmosphere darken along with Ashley's ghostly Celtic vocals, which may remind one of Enya; the effect is ethereal and haunting; "sobriety cannot be saved, for madness is divine".

This merges into Youth's Denial where the drone widens into broader brushstrokes of spacey nuances. Then a prog riff on Hammond resounds with a very Roger Waters-like vocal from Jim; "only a vision of folly and flight, I've dreamed late in the night, of the city." The melody on this song is highly infectious and began to haunt me long after the album was over. A definitive highlight on this album.

The Temptation of Icarus is a much heavier song with a driving keyboard and guitar riff that ascends and descends constantly. Jim is forceful on vocals; "you don't know the night has fallen, you tempt my soul to fly, too high." The time sig changes into a brilliant instrumental with spacey effects and a grand guitar riff. The bassline is mesmerising on this, but the way those keyboards interact with the guitars is incredible.

Selene Rising returns to familiar melodies heard before, and then slows into a majestic climax with intricate keyboard and guitar. I am totally hypnotised by that wondrous sound the band generates. The time sigs change dramatically to the next motif that gets faster and faster till we move into the ingenious next track.

Undoubtedly my favourite track on the album, The Tears of Selene has an acoustic rhythm and subtle keyboards that are multi layered. The Heather Findlay style vocals of Ashley are enchanting with a mesmeric beauty. Her high operatic vocals are simply beauty personified. The lyrics themselves are inspired; "rhyme and reason, morning sun, through the blinds, cutting skin, spinning colours inside out, mental treason, onward through, the night it goes into dawn." The song builds gradually and the music rises to a crescendo before the chorus. I get chills when the chorus comes in with "Selene, Selene, midnight dream, eternal lover, Selene, Selene, crashing waves through the walls of time, and distant days." The piano is a virtuoso triumph and the way guitars violin over the surface is dreamy, a genuine moment of transfixing reverie. The track continues to build with the orchestrated symphonic swathes of keyboard. Then there are staccato blasts of sound and the acoustic flourishes begin again. Ashley's sweet voice returns, "long forgotten summer days, we were there side by side, trapped in a rhapsody of sound, on a lonely distant wind, you called me." Once again the song takes on that spine tingling flavour when the chorus pounds out. At the end of the song I know I have heard a masterpiece song. Can it get better, or will the album transcend into mediocrity or run out of steam as so many concept albums are prone to do. I needn't have worried. The album actually continues to provide innovation and heart pounding prog rock.

Erato's Pulse is the longest song clocking 11 minutes, and is driven with very strong prog time sigs and instrumentation. Once again Ashley's vocals are exquisite, and the form of the song takes many detours and surprises with shifts in mood. The keyboard domination is complimented with chimes, huge bass motifs and an astounding hypnotic rhythm. The keyboards and bass drum act as a pulse keeping a rhythmic signature while we hear noises like jungle animals, tribal tom toms, cymbals and retro synth strings. The music locks into this pulse for a time and sounds spacey as Ashley sings; "they hide now in shadow, they whisper now in darkness, they lead with a vision, and mould the dreams from within." The music motorvates along fluidly with organic guitar swells and imaginative basslines. When the band take off in full flight like this they are irresistible. The track turns quite dark towards the end, with dissonant piano stabs, and a chilling finale, finally completed by a loud gong and jungle atmospherics of crickets chirping, the swamp sounds of sticky heat and mosquito infested foliage. The track is a definitive highlight and one to savour for those who like prog to be intricate and replete with variations in style.

Silhouette ends the album on a powerful note, the lyrics spelling out the denouement of all that has come before; "the smoke rises into the pregnant air, across the dark skyline, dense music pours onto the crowded streets across the damp bricks." The retro sound is generated with very solid keyboards motifs, almost the 80s synth sound in effect. The melody is quite accessible and those shimmering Hammond flourishes are excellent. Jim's keyboard solos are a feature as always, especially the spacey synths over the bassline and guitar chord shapes. The spoken words come forth to continue the story; "passion and pleasure chase each other into the night across the humid city," and the song changes again with a strong drum beat and some ancient languages. It finishes with crickets chirping, and then the same effect we will hear in the beginning, the scratchy vinyl sound of an ancient classical piece and then the effect of a record stuck in its groove thus signifying, as the lyrics tell us earlier, that the journey has "come full circle"; an endless cycle in the true mythological tradition.

So at the end of the album, I was completely blown away by the surprising attention to detail in the music and storyline. This is a magnum opus for the band, and takes huge risks in terms of extensive instrumental sections, bombastic lyrics and strong time signature changes. Therefore this could have been a disaster with all the risks it takes; it is bold and daring and dominated by a non-compromised environmentalist storyline. The music draws on many progressive influences from Genesis to Pink Floyd, King Crimson to Porcupine Tree, with touches of Mostly Autumn and Yes, and yet retains a balance and freshness to the approach of the material that is distinctly Persephone's Dream. The album somehow holds together thanks to Kelly Fletcher's storyline and the overall musical soundscape. It may take a few listens to be completely immersed in the sound, but the way the music disseminates across every song, creating a whole conceptual framework, works so well due to the passion put into the project. There is a great deal of love and desire injected into the music, and the imagery conjures up apparitions and spectres of the mythical past. The music beckons one to listen, and weaves its spell around the listener with tranquillity and finesse. On every listen I find myself drawn into the dense layers of light and dark, and I can draw from the concepts a different experience, and can enjoy the moments of familiarity as a specific melody begins. The album takes one on an alluring journey that will resonate uniquely with each listener according to their experience. This masterpiece has the ability to grow on the listener like osmosis, and I never tire of the structures and forms of the sheer inventive prog music created. One of the best albums of 2010!

Review by CCVP
4 stars Impressive is the word

Persephone's Dream is an american progressive rock band which I have my first contact a couple of years ago when they were kind enough to spare an album of their to me for the purpose of reviewing it.

The band presents us, with their album Pan: An Urban Pastoral, some quite pleasant progressive rock symphony about the Ancient World's mythology, more specifically Greek mythology, dealing about Pan's endeavors and the dealings he is in on both pastoral and urban life. The theme of the album, however interesting it might look, pales when compared to the music and its beautiful melodies presented by the band, the real front-runners of this piece.

Without any previous knowledge of this band and with absolutely no source of information to retrieve anything from, I was skeptical about their ability to deliver, but fortunately I was wrong. The album manages to smoothly evolve from start to finish, without any somersaults or bumpy occasions, and work every musical idea well enough to make them stretch out a complete "sentence", but for the right amount of time so that it does not get tiresome; they also make a very decent usage of the multiple vocalists they have, balancing them throughout the album and stirring even more variety into their musical melting pot.

As far as the instruments go, it is important to point out that the focus is shared between the guitars and the keyboards, with the bass, the drums and the percussion, in spite of being very important for the end result, only have a secondary place in the scheme of things here; they don't actually get overshadowed, but they do not stand in the forefront either, they are just there, complementing the lines, filling the layers and making the music, the band, sound whole, complete, good, filling the bases for the harmony to be built upon.

The songs develop into eachother, one becoming the other as they progress, what is absolutely necessary in an album that tries to encompass a story in a single piece; developing a musical theme or idea from a song eventually leads to the main or opening theme for the next song ans so forth. Another point that give the impression that the whole album is one single piece is the recurring themes: from time to time themes are introduced and reintroduced, giving the impression that everything is connected and is only one piece that just happen to be divided divided for whatever reason.

The production and mixing aren't special, but do their job very well, portraying the instruments and the voices clearly and without letting anybody be hidden by the others, for the most part. The male vocals, however, are an exception; I feel that they sound as a buzz, as if they were being singed by a kazoo, in a gross exaggeration, and correcting that would be great, even though it does not threat the experience.

Rating and final thoughts

Pan: An Urban Pastoral is, from start to finish, a pleasant and coherent piece of progressive rock in a way that few can be. It feels complete, finished, having everything from start to finish well assembled and organized, without any noticeable gaps. I feel, in spite of all that, that Pan still lacks the amazement factor of a true musical masterpiece, even though that is the only piece that I feel it lacks, as it has everything else needed. For that reason, the best rating in my judgement would be four stars. If the band ever manages to improve what they have here, then I believe we would truly have something very special on our hands.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars 2010 saw the band back with their fifth studio album, alongside yet more significant line-up changes. Guitarist and co- founder Rowen Poole, plus percussionist John Tallent were back, alongside keyboard player James Waugaman (who also provides vocals) who had debuted on the last album, as had drummer Scot Harvey who last time had played on just one track but this time was a full-time member of the band. The line-up was completed by new singer Ashley Peer and new bassist Roman Propenko. It is interesting to compare the number of reviews for this album on PA as opposed to the others, due in no small part I am sure by now being signed to a label who would send out promos (although strangely I didn't get this although I was working with PRR at the time), plus also very much due to the change in the band's approach.

This time around we have a full-blown concept album, containing nineteen songs which generally run into each other, so it feels like one continual piece of music. As well as sound effects there has been quite a shift in the musical direction, with Rowen letting James come far more to the fore, the result being something which musically is far more symphonic and less heavy than previously, with instruments such as glockenspiel being used effectively, along with clarinet. There are far more lengthy instrumental passages and less concentration on the vocals, and while James has a theatrical style to his voice the real presence here is Ashley with a wonderfully controlled soprano, and her choral entrance to the piece is simply beautiful.

This is an album which demands both careful and repeated listening as it is only with time that one really gets the complexity and breadth of styles within this. There are some wonderfully dated synth leads while Rowen's guitar can often be found underpinning the overall sound, rarely allowing himself the luxury of throwing out some power chords or lead licks. It sounds as if this is destined for the stage as opposed to "just" an album, and I am sure I am missing some things by not having that visual element. It is a very different release to the previous album, in so many ways, and I find it quite hard to compare the two as musically they have headed in quite a different direction. There is also a much bigger focus on male lead vocals, something they had started on the previous album, yet to me their music felt better suited to a female lead. I would have liked to have heard more from both Rowen and Ashley, combined with being able to actually see them perform this. This is a considerable undertaking, but personally I would have preferred to have seen a more logical continuation from the last album as opposed to something which is so far removed.

Latest members reviews

4 stars It is not easy to copy Snow or Lambs Lies Down On Broadway, is it ? Copycat, it may not be. But Pan: An Urban Pastorial is operating in the same street as these two legends. A standard that is as high as Mount Everest in my view. So does this band, who is not a symphonic prog band, manages t ... (read more)

Report this review (#296909) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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