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Cross Playgrounds album cover
3.54 | 35 ratings | 5 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Let The Play Begin... (7:37)
2. Dejá Vų (4:36)
3. A New Beginning (10:10)
4. The Battle Of Thal˙ma (5:31)
5. ...And Enter The Game (9:44)
6. Fjärilshonung (0:51)
7. Mesmerizing Enterprize (15:20)

Total Time: 53:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Hansi Cross / guitars, keyboards, vocals, percussion
- Lollo Andersson / basses
- Tomas Hjort / drums, harmony vocals

- Olov Andersson / keyboards, harmony vocals
- Lizette von Panajott / harmony vocals (1,5,7)
- Göran Johnsson / percussion, harmony vocals (4,5,7)
- Göran Fors / taurus, harmony vocals (3,7)
- Hannah / electric violin (4)
- Linus Kåse / Soprano saxophone (3,5)
- Robert Iversen / percussion (5)
- Alex / percussion (3,4)

Releases information

CD Progress Records PRCD013 (2004)
CD Progrock Records PRR 100 (2004) UK

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Grendelbox for the last updates
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CROSS Playgrounds ratings distribution

(35 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

CROSS Playgrounds reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Clayreon
4 stars Swedish 'CROSS', a symphonic project from Hansi Cross, has produced through the years a respectable discography. But unlike many other bands, CROSS has succeeded to improve the quality throughout each release, and this seems to be the case again with 'Playgrounds'. Influences from the past like GENESIS, YES, KING CRIMSON, etc are now reunited into a very own sound, neo-progressive symphonic rock as this seems to become typical for Scandinavian bands. On this album CROSS has found the perfect balance between the vocal and instrumental pieces. Some will have difficulties with that raw, sometimes complaining voice of Hansi, but after a few listenings you will find out that his voice fits perfectly the instrumental parts.

'Let the play begin' has a certain GENESIS-feeling, especially because of the keyboards, but CROSS tends to give the song a 'heavier' turn, often followed by softer, melodic passages. 'Déjā Vu' is a full instrumental track, where heavy guitar riffs (even a bit progmetal) are alternated with dreamy guitar solos and mellotron. 'A new beginning' could easily have been a new number of SPEKTRUM, with those typical keyboard sounds with an intriguing voice, supported by excellent CAMEL-like guitar parts. A bit surprising is the use of saxophone, which makes the end a bit jazzy. But no mistake, this is truly a symphonic, progressive rock-cd. For instance in the second instrumental 'The battle of Thalyma', CROSS seems to have a patent on those beautiful melody lines. And although Hansi is an excellent musician, he prefers arrangement and compositions above technique, that's why the rhythm section is rather inconspicuous, but solid.

'.and enter the game' has a heavier basis, with at times even some fusion, later on again neo-progressive, but the symphonic nature is always dominating, the addition of some choir samples is helpful in this way. This tracks is full of tempo changes, and listen carefully to the wonderful guitar solo at the end. After a short 'ambient' transition track comes 'Mesmerizing enterprize', a worthy ending introduced by mellotron, with many surprising turns on guitar and keyboards and harmonic vocals. The voice of Lizette gives it a Spektrum feeling, although CROSS' music is a lot more risky than the aforementioned Swedish musical project of the Progress Records label. But the beautiful varied guitar solos remain the most striking on this album, the influence of top guitarists of the seventies is obvious.

Some tracks were recorded already in 2001 and 'Playgrounds' should have been released that year, but as Tomas Hjort was living in New York during 911, the whole project was cancelled. In the meantime the successful SPEKTRUM-album was released, this gave the last one of CROSS more time to grow. And the result is probably the best album, that the band has produced so far: a promise for the future.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album by CROSS comprises good combination of keyboard and guitars as main soloists, accompanied with good rhythm section comprising drums and bass. It's good for a musical break after you might have been bombarded with hard-edge progressive metal or even metal music. The music of "Playgrounds" is quite relaxing - the music flows smoothly from one segment to another with transition pieces of guitar and / or keyboard solos. It's typical neo prog music vein.

"Let The Play Begin... "(7:37) is a keyboard-based composition in relatively medium tempo that combines a floating singing style, nice guitar solo and multi-layer keyboard sounds. The music flows smoothly, featuring different kind of segments - those overlaid with guitar solo or keyboard works. If you listen to this track, it's recommended to set high volume on your amplifier and you would get subtleties of the music.

"Dejá Vų" (4:36) continues the music almost seamlessly with soft guitar riffs in faster tempo than the opening track. It's an interesting instrumental track in relatively upbeat mood. "A New Beginning" (10:10) might be considered as an epic. The music reminds me the kind of Pendragon, IQ or Pallas. It starts mellow with low register vocal notes combined beautifully with Floydian guitar work. The music moves in crescendo with faster tempo at approx minute 2:30. In terms of change dynamics, the band tries to avoid such thing as sudden change because the music is floating with relatively no major breaks into different style. The music explores its peak with symphonic style in he middle of the track using solo synthesizer. The use of alto sax solo has enriched the texture of this song.

"The Battle Of Thal˙ma" (5:31) is another floating music with intertwined keyboard and guitar works. It's quite odd to me as the title is about "battle" but the song does not represent a nuance of battle. Or I might be wrong expecting something like Genesis "the Battle of Epping Forest"? Oh yes, I'm wrong as when the music enters minute 3 I can hear the change of style into more symphonic with a bit like marching drums that relate us to the battle nuance. After this instrumental track the music continues with "...And Enter The Game" (9:44) that has vocal parts. The music changes from flat style into more dynamic ones in the middle of the track. The album concludes with an epic "Mesmerizing Enterprize" (15:20) - exploring the multi-layered keyboard sounds and guitar solos.

I think, this is a main characteristic of any neo prog venture: if the floating / ambient styles are not combined with changes in tempo or sudden change of beats in a dynamic way, the music tends to be boring. This is what I feel about this album. In terms of musical flow and melody, this album is quite enjoyable especially with the flux of guitar solo and some keyboard sounds - it makes the music is interesting. But then what if the music is not augmented with sudden change of chords in higher notes? There is not much variations that I can enjoy, emotionally. Unfortunately, music is emotion. You might have great compositions but if they lack melody and / or harmony - they will be passing your ears and not succumbed into your heart / mind. In any case, this is not a bd album at all but this one really fails to stimulate good emotion to me. So I just consider this as good but not essential neo prog album. Keep on proggin' ..!

"Minds are like parachutes - they only function when they are open"

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is CROSS' ninth studio album released in 2004. Quite a few guests on this one mostly helping out with vocal harmonies, but there is some guest sax and violin as well.

"Let The Play Begin..." opens with keyboards before the bass and drums join in as a full sound arrives. Vocals after a minute as it settles. I like the guitar before 3 minutes that solos tastefully.The synth solo after 4 1/2 minutes is interesting.It then settles with some lazy guitar before kicking back in with vocals. "Deja Vu" has some low end to it as bass and drums lead early on. It does lighten as this instrumental plays out. Heavier again before 3 minutes then the guitar starts to solo slowly. "A New Beginning" opens with keyboards and atmosphere as reserved vocals join in.The guitar cries out after a minute and continues until about 2 1/2 minutes when the tempo picks up and vocals join in. Some smooth sax 8 minutes in. Atmosphere ends it.

"The Battle Of Thalyma" opens with a heavy beat and synths standing out. Guitar before a minute but it's the synths that dominate on this instrumental. "...And Enter The Game" opens with synths and a heavy beat. Vocals join in quickly. Not a fan of the lighter harmonies here. Guitar and keyboards lead the way though. "Fjarilshonung" is less than a minute of acoustic guitar and mellow instrumental music. "Mesmerizing Enterprize" ends it with over 15 minutes of sand moving music. Powerful start with synths and drums then the tempo picks up. It settles as the vocals arrive. Nice guitar after 3 1/2 minutes. The tempo and mood continue to shift. A calm with vocal melodies 8 1/2 minutes in. Then it builds back up very slowly.

A pretty good album overall.

Latest members reviews

4 stars While I was listening "Playgrounds", I imagined a triangle floating in the space. In the center of the triangle, the music of Hansi, Lollo and Tomas floated. In one of the vertices it was GENESIS, in another one, disputing the space was ELP and PINK FLOYD, and in the third was CROSS, all of th ... (read more)

Report this review (#67886) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Is Sweden going to be the number one prog-rock country on this planet? It seems so unbelievable but here we have another prog-rock master called Hansi Cross, plays Guitar and Keyboards both masterful. Only his voice is little weak. But without doubt very good compositions and stunning playing. ... (read more)

Report this review (#40554) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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