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Ovrfwrd Blurring the Lines ... A Democracy Manifest album cover
4.09 | 193 ratings | 9 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2018

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Wretch (7:13)
2. Return to Splendor (5:54)
3. Kilauea (1:30)
4. The Trappers Daughter (4:12)
5. Forbidden Valley Opiate (4:45)
6. Cosmic Pillow (8:05)
7. Another Afterthought (3:54)
8. Handful of Infinity (3:08)
9. Taiga (4:01)
10. Mother Tongue (7:14)
11. Wretch Reprise (1:32)
12. Usul (4:47)

Total Time 56:15

Line-up / Musicians

- Mark Ilaug / guitar
- Chris Malmgren / keyboards
- Kyle Lund / bass
- Rikki Davenport / drums

Releases information

CD self-released (2018, US)

Digital album

Thanks to rdtprog for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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OVRFWRD Blurring the Lines ... A Democracy Manifest ratings distribution

(193 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

OVRFWRD Blurring the Lines ... A Democracy Manifest reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy, RPI, Symph, JR/F Canterbury Teams
5 stars The band continues to experiment its instrumental music by exploring different kinds of styles from Progressive Rock, Jazz Rock, world music and classical. In the same song, you can expect a surprising twist around the corner, a special groove. They can cover different moods from the more heavier passages to the light ones using piano and sitar and not only modern instruments. Often compared to King Crimson, that is mostly accurate for the rhythm section which is similar to the 90's King Crimson than for the guitar style of playing. There are so many highlights in this 50 minutes plus album that it would be a waste of time to analyze every song, you can't skip a song, it will keep your focus from the beginning to the end. For those who enjoy an eclectic or fusion kind of heavy prog and don't mind the absence of vocals. Why ruined this beautiful music with vocals!
Review by Neu!mann
5 stars After releasing the assertive live-in-the-studio teaser "Occupations of Uninhabited Space" only six months earlier, the Minneapolis quartet OVRFWRD completes what has to be the most impressive one-two punch of 2018 with their long awaited third album, in the process cementing a (so far) low radar reputation as one of the best and most authentically progressive bands at work today.

From the eye-catching cover art to the inscrutable title to the undeniable depth and variety of the music itself, this is stunning stuff: old-school instrumental Prog as it used to be practiced, by four ace players very much aware of their shared musical heritage. On their Facebook page the band cites the influence of Pink Floyd, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Iron Maiden, Rush, Yes, Opeth, Joni Mitchell (!), and King Crimson, and believe it or not all of the above are discernable in the new album. But this is hardly an ensemble stuck on a retrograde treadmill: the same list of influences ends with an intriguing "TBD..."

In truth the only thing OVRFWRD actually borrows from the past is a legacy of boundless creativity. Their music is hard to categorize, which ought to be true (but usually isn't) for any band flying the Progressive Rock banner. Heavy, intense, lyrical, sensitive, and thrilling are a few words that immediately spring to mind at first exposure. I dare any self-respecting Proghead not to respond to the attention-grabbing album opener "Wretch", with its gut-punching rhythms and near-symphonic instrumental chorus (a brief "Reprise" later in the album acts more like an interlude excised from the earlier track but too good to waste).

The same challenge also applies to the gentle acoustic beauty of "Kilauea", an oasis of calm before the macho chords powering "The Trapper's Daughter". Or the Kick-Muck Ozric Tentacles intensity of "Forbidden Valley Opiate", one of two tracks previewed on the "Uninhibited Space" collection. Elsewhere the title "Cosmic Pillow" may have been intended as a joke: note the ethereal faux-'60s sitars and tabla, and the Roedelius-like simplicity of Chris Malmgren's acoustic piano accents, bathed in interplanetary echo. But it successfully conjures an age of outer-atmospheric exploration better than most dedicated Space Rock bands, then or now.

For this session OVRFWRD seems to have shed the few remaining inhibitions that might have lingered over their previous two studio albums. The band is playing with a greater sense of space and freedom, but at the same time have bonded tighter and harder than ever into a single musical unit. Solo turns are few, and are always heard within a larger group context: a possible explanation of the "Democracy Manifest" in the album's title. Chris Malmgren's nuanced keyboard work; Mark Ilaug's fiery lead guitar; and a vigorous rhythm section with stamina to spare: these guys function like an eight-armed beast controlled by one alert, curious, and very confident brain.

I'm always hesitant to award a new album five immediate stars: masterpieces need to first stand the test of time. But maybe this effort has been there and done that already, even before its official release. After all: if the same music had been around 40 years ago (and it might have been, if only more bands at the time had resisted commercial trends and played to their strengths) the album would likely be remembered today as a why wait?

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars I can't stand it any longer. At first, quite obvious, this fairly unspeakable band name strikes, puzzles every time, me at least. Just something like 'Overforward' maybe? Anyhow, come what may, as announced lately, the US quartet are offering a new manifest due to this album. Where they are blurring the lines between diverse genres again with ease. While being completely instrumental lyrics aren't available in consequence. The very nice cover illustration at least will express some touch with nature. And so, if there is any concept intended behind that ever, at least it may be managing another balancing act. Which would be to deliver new music that is unpredictable and accessible at once.

Thus, while listening, and considering the album title, who really will be up to doubt, that this is based on a democratic foundation? Without exception the musicianship is flawless over the course. Instrumental impact and compositional aspect obviously enjoy equal rights regarding all members. Not long ago they released the live in the studio session 'Occupations Of Uninhabited Space', retrospective and looking ahead both, as they also have put some forward-looking teaser on that album. Mother Tongue appears to be one exemplar, but provided in a new outfit on this occasion, yeah! And now, of course, the unavoidable question ... which is the better one, heh? Can't say, don't know, sorry, pragmatically seen I should prefer the more extended one, hah!

Whatever, the fabulous jamming middle part features a symbiosis of jazz/fusion and space rock attitude, marks an album highlight in any case. This is a quite eclectic one hour show, comes with creativity, definitely running against prog mainstream boredom. Equipped with a bunch of twists and turns it's really hard to analyze and describe. One track title, mentioning a trappers daughter, once provoked me to wonder if they ever have thought about recording a song or two with a singer anyway. Probably a new further challenge, who knows. Not an easy task in the end, because this music is of a complex nature, regularly contradictive to harmonies, choruses, refrains aso.

I rather should avoid to highlight any band member, but Chris Malmgren's enchanting piano lines are remarkable all over the course, exemplarily to mention on the fantastic opener Wretch. There's some fine symphonic bombast feel given within Another Afterthought. Furthermore the mysterious Cosmic Pillow extends the guitar range with a sitar and some King Crimson reminiscence. If you should be longing for a proper comparisn, the band Djam Karet will come into mind occasionally. 'Blurring The Lines' is absolutely recommended, prog purists should pay attention, so much to explore. 4.5 stars as for the rating so far.

Review by kev rowland
5 stars Due to one reason or another I have fallen behind on my reviewing from where I like to be, and when this started playing in the car the other day I initially had to take a step back and work out who it was, and where it had come from. I had forgotten that keyboard player Chris Malmgren had sent it to me, as this just doesn't sound like a self-release and why they haven't been picked up by a major label is just beyond me. When it comes to instrumental progressive rock, there are few who put it together as strongly as Ovrfwd, who continue to drive a fusion of heavy rock and progressive rock in a way only they can. Drummer Rikki Davenport is obviously an octopus, while bassist Kyle Lund decided a long time ago that there is no reason why he can't play a lead part as well as providing support. Then you have keyboard player Chris Malmgreen who may be just playing delicate, emotional piano (listen to the beginning of 'Cosmic Pillow' as an example), or blasting banks of keyboards and then there is Mark Ilaug who can be deft and precise, or shredding and dynamic, whatever is right at that moment in time.

The guys don't have a singer, as there is just no room at all inside their music for someone to provide vocals. But, instead of meandering meaningless wanderings these guys provide concise and controlled songs without words, music that transports the listener (such as the use of sitar on the aforementioned song). Powerful and heavy when it needs to me, there is also a great deal of delicacy, and clever arrangements which allow for plenty of space within the layers so that all can be easily heard and understood. This is truly progressive, with no room for navel gazing as the guys provide complex and complicated music which is fully accessible the first time it is played and just keeps getting better on repeat. Superb.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars These boys know how to embellish two-, three- and four-chord blues rock chord progressions with enough jam-band-like instrumental flourishes, to bely the simplicity of the compositions. The musicians are all proficient at their instruments, the sound choices and effects all very accurate duplications of those from classic prog, psychedelia, and jazz fusion, and the weaves all full and feeling complete, but there is again this stark simplicity to each composition that I find difficult to ignore. It is especially obvious through and with the predominance of straight time signatures. I feel as if I'm listening to DAAL, QUANTUM FANTAY, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, and early KING CRIMSON.

1. "Wretch" (7:13) is one of the strongest songs on the album, sounding like QUANTUM FANTAY at their best. (9/10)

2. "Return to Splendor" (5:55) has a driving, jamming SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT start and feel to it until the soft DAAL-like piano-based section in the fourth minute. Quite pretty?the bass lines and electric guitar arpeggi are especially engaging. At 4:40 chunky DAAL guitar power chords (two chords) shift the music back to the insistence of the opening. (8.75/10)

3. "Kilauea" (1:31) opens as a solo acoustic guitar piece before the guitar is trebled in tracks 40 seconds in. (4/5)

4. "The Trapper's Daughter" (4:13) opens with IQ-like raunchy synth which is soon joined by John Bonham "When the Levee Breaks"-sounding drumming before organ and rest of band fills the soundscape. Adrian Belew-like guitar screams and screeches enter around 1:55 but then become buried in the rest of the sonic barrage. But then a soft, cinematic reprieve starts and gradually morphs into a three-chord acoustic guitar duet to the end. Interesting. (8.5/10)

5. ""Forbidden Valley Opiate" (4:46) opens with solid drum play and Dick-Dale-like guitar riffing before filling out to be a song that could come straight from QUANTUM FANTAY's 2010 album "Bridges of Kukuriku." Another mid-song acoustic slowdown occurs in the third minute, but then proceeds to alternate with the driving two-chord progression that the song first established in the first minute. In the fourth minute the two sections kind of meld as the wah-ed lead guitar jumps into the fore and stays there till song's end. (8.75/10)

6. "Cosmic Pillow" (8:06) opens with a solo sitar before a few sparsely spaced single piano notes join in around 0:40. The duet continues as both instruments gradually embellish and augment their separate patterns with little flourishes, chords, and runs. At 2:18 the piano enters into a more domineering pattern and is joined by tabla. Talented dudes! But the strangest thing then occurs: at the four minute mark when electric bass and electric guitar enter, the whole song changes, instrumental foundation, mood, sound, everything. Gone are sitar, tabla, and any echoes of Indian sounds, exchanged for heavy four-chord bluesy prog rock. In the sixth minute, the musical structure tries on a kind of KING CRIMSON sound with angular guitar chords and arpeggi and wild saxophone runs. Impressive imitation but, again, it is based in such simplicity! (8.5/10)

7. "Another Afterthought" (3:54) is the first of the album's songs in which the band enters into the realm of 70s instrumental Jazz Rock?here using an instrumental sound palette quite similar to bands like NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN, LARRY CARLTON, and even Belgium's MINIMAL COMPACT. The song is interesting?even pretty in many places. (9/10)

8. "Handful of Infinity" (3:09) trying on the folk-tinged PAT METHENY GROUP style, we have a two-chord verse structure as the foundation over which electric guitar, Patrick Moraz-like synth, and piano get some solo time. The segue into more delicate territory at 2:00 is interesting, and then we finish with the same acoustic guitar-based jazz-rock opening. (8.75/10)

9. "Taiga" (4:01) opens like it's going to explode into a DEAD CAN DANCE song, but then, instead, becomes more of an ambient VANGELIS "Antarctica" thing before single chord piano and simple bass line bounce repetitively while synth twinkles and poppies its percussive sounds. A chamber strings addition in the third minute proceeds a rich, cinematic section over which bass nd electric guitar interplay. Good song. (8.75/10)

10. "Mother Tongue" (7:15) opens with a band and a runaway pace with many bridges of tempo shifts and pregnant pauses strung together while drums and organ crash away. Electric guitar becomes more integrated into the weave than anticipated, but then morphs into an interesting due to the arrival of acoustic guitar in lead position, but then heaviness crashes back in to take the dominating style. But no! A slower, more spacious psychedelia foundation is created allowing the blues Hendrix-like lead guitar to float and flail, dance and fly all over the fast-panning soundscape. This song is all over the place! Does it work? Drumming, bass play, and piano are very cool in their support of the Hendrix imitator. Definitely a bluesy jam band-like song. The four-chord repetition to the end is an unusual way to draw the song to a close. (9/10)

11. "Wretch Reprise" (1:32) faded in, faded out. Must have been a solo section from an alternate or longer version of the album's opener. I am SO familiar with this style of creating songs! (3.5/5)

12. "Usul" (4:48) is the most obviously KING CRIMSON-esque song on the album, "Red" era, but, other than the wonderful drumming on display, ultimately fails to maintain its beguilement. (8.5/10)

Again, these band members, one and all, are masters of taking very simple constructs and using the collective embellishments from their familiar instruments to weave together some very nice and deceptively layered song tapestries. There are more frequent jam-band type of song developments than complex Crimsonian constructs?though, again, each of the individual musicians are quite proficient at their instruments. Their gift, so far, lies in masterfully mounting a collective attack slowly but surely, building as one to eventually create the full sounds and impressive concotions that they have.

Four stars; a wonderful addition to any prog lover's music collection; an impressive collection of a variety of styles familiar to any prog lover from the progressive rock musics of the 1970s.

Review by FragileKings
5 stars It's been a while since I reviewed Ovrfrwd's album, "Fantasy Absent Reason". It remember liking it enough that I considered buying a copy on CD but was swept away by other interests at the time. There's only so much music an income can buy!

So it was that I was checking my PA inbox and found not one but three messages from the band inviting me to listen to their recent releases. I had barely gotten the music settled in my computer when my hard drive crashed and I lost everything I hadn't stored away externally. So, with this new release sounding so good, I just went ahead and ordered three of the band's CDs. One victory for physical copies: hard drives may come and go but barring any disasters a CD collection lives on!

Now here it is, "Blurring the Lines", Ovrfrwd's 2018 release, their fourth album if I have that correctly and their latest offering of new studio material (a live DVD has since been released). This album is really a solid piece of work, in my opinion. It's all instrumental as are most of their recordings and does a splendid job of covering heavy and sometimes even dark prog rock as well as going classic prog crazy, light and beautiful, and even downright horror show spooky in places. Another review states that their music is based on simple rock compositions but cleverly sounds more complex and skillful. Honestly, I couldn't tell if these guys are top tier virtuosos or just really talented blokes down the street. What I can tell is that they have created possibly their best album to date with tracks that intrigue, captivate and surprise!

I'm just listening now to that spooky piano in "Return to Slender" and it feels like Mike Meyers (from Halloween not Wayne's World) is lurking outside the house. Then these really gritty guitar chords crunch in and the music crosses insane raunchy guitar with that spooky piano. This is followed by a beautiful, short acoustic guitar piece.

The opening track, "Wretch" is one of those modern-day prog rock tracks that gives us guitar melodies that come close to Pink Floyd at times while still being generally too active and busy to be confused with Pink Floyd. Meanwhile, down the track list, "The Trapper's Daughter" sounds like the band collaborated a bit with Trent Reznor with some cool industrial parts that work well with Ovrfrwd's blend of heavy prog and some instances of classic prog manoeuvres. "Forbidden Valley Opiate" opens with some speedy guitar supported by organ and some aggressive drumming. The track later becomes dramatic and grandiose in the final minutes.

One really cool surprise is, "Cosmic Pillow". Beginning with soothing sitar and some soft and beautiful piano, the track develops with tabla percussion and more developed piano before later turning into another crushing, dark piece, with some classic prog quirkiness about it. Then there's a Voivod-like guitar and the sky comes crashing down in sinister black clouds. It's a grand example of how Ovrfwrd can shift gears in their compositions, moving from relaxing and mind-soothing music to something that would make some people feel panicky.

The goes on with a very seventies-sounding intro to "Another Afterthought" that seems it will stay the course until once more the tones change and change again. I love music that keeps dropping in surprises and is unpredictable. Ovrfwrd are able to capture the nostalgic moods of the seventies, darker sounds of modern times, and paint moments of feel-good music and beauty. There's often a sense of blues rock / heavy psychedelic / jazz-inspired jamming, especially with the guitar and drums, while the piano and keyboards often hold down the moods and melodies.

Perhaps one point to note here is that this album features more tracks than their previous releases, meaning there are more shorter compositions than their older albums which had a lot more mini-epics. But that has no bearing on the quality of the music.

This is an album from which I can keep extracting goodies with each subsequent listen. Very suitable for my tastes!

Review by b_olariu
3 stars 3.5 stars for sure

Blurring the Lines ... A Democracy Manifest is the third album released in 2018 by this excelllent instrumental heavy prog band from USA. I must confess I like the cover art a lot aswell the booklet and all art.

Well, this is better and more intristing then previous work Fantasy absent and maybe from their first one, solid palying and good musicianship by all mebmers involved. There are lots of audio lanscapes to get into, nice breaks, nice tempo changes, beautiful piano and keyboards, top guitar parts and solid drumming all over, aswell the bass lines are intresting - just to be checked the marvelous Return to Slender, a touch of jazzy passages can be found here and there giving a super atmosphere overall, maybe my fav track from here, followed by Another Afterthought. I hear some King Crimson influences overall specially from Red album era - The Trapper's Daughter is the perfect example, who is btw killer tune.

So, another goody from this band, who try and succeed to improve with each album, to keep an eye on for sure, they desearve it. Quirky instrumental heavy prog with all the ingredients to be spectacular. 3.5 stars for sure for fans of King Crimson, Djam Karet, Quantum Fantay, etc

Latest members reviews

5 stars I knew this band, but my ears did not reach their music and this album (for some reason, the difficult-to-pronounce name of the band repelled me and the cover was not particularly impressed).But all in good time... It was from this recording that I got acquainted with their phenomenal music. The 2 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2654364) | Posted by Zeropikinz | Tuesday, December 21, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This band continues to impress me, record after record, with its virtuosity and millimetric precision of the structure of its compositions. In this opus, these brilliant musicians have chosen to set up more concise pieces than on their previous records. Although I have a predilection for epics, t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2216105) | Posted by Kjarks | Monday, May 27, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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