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Ovrfwrd StarStuff album cover
4.03 | 52 ratings | 10 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Firelight (5:37)
2. Let It Burn [King George] (5:58)
3. StarStuff (5:09)
4. Look Up (8:21)
5. Daybreak (2:48)
6. Zathras (4:35)
7. From Parts Unknown (6:25)

Total Time 38:53

Line-up / Musicians

- Mark Ilaug / electric & acoustic guitars
- Chris Malmgren / keyboards, piano, Moog, Mellotron
- Kyle Lund / bass
- Richard Davenport / drums, percussion

- Bryan Hanna / congas
- Paula Gudmundson / flute

Releases information

Label: Rock Slacks Music
Format: Vinyl, CD, Digital
October 2, 2020

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to rivertree for the last updates
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OVRFWRD StarStuff ratings distribution

(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

OVRFWRD StarStuff reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars This band started to write this album in January 2020 and was recorded in a five days session in Minneapolis. The first track showcases some delicious Hammond organ not too far from Jon Lord. The bass sound is strong and as always the rhythm section solid. The band has light a fire here in this first song. The second track they let the fire burn with some lighter passage of flute and piano keeping the fire alive with some busy drums and guitar. The title track delivers some spacey atmosphere and a sound that reminds me of the Swedish band Landberk. This instrumental music that sounds at times like a control improvisation adds a little psychedelic touch with the guitar play of Mark Ilaug. The track ''Zathers'' starts peacefully with some tasty guitar parts and piano that gets on the heavy side slowly. This new recording shows a band that did not disappoint again for those who enjoy heavy instrumental music that brings a variety of moods.
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ovrfwrd has been one of my favorite American bands since their very first album, 'Beyond the Visible Light', that stunned the 2014 prog market and raised a few eyebrows. The all-out instrumental quartet has sizzled ever since, regularly releasing albums that maintain or even surpass their initial foray. There is also another constant that is remarkable: the same band members have solidified their musical relationship and find themselves progressing further down their artistic path. 4 exceptionally gifted musicians, namely keyboardist Chris Malmgren, guitarist Marl Ilaug, bassist Kyle Lund and my current choice drum maestro Rikki Davenport! Both 'Fantasy Absent Reason' (2015) and 2018's stellar 'Blurring the Lines'A Democracy Manifest' kept the course steady, culminating in 'Starstuff'. Historically, I have never been a big fan of virtuoso displays of technique that always seem to subvert composition, melody and arrangement, which is why I only have one Wyngvie Malmsteen recording in my collection. But Ovrfwrd creates memorable pieces of music where each member is an equal partner , very much a team effort from start to finish, mastering the art of interplay , common feel , sense of purpose and deft touch in all of the notes they display. This why this band is in my treasure chest, you can listen to both the whole and the individual parts, in any combination and hear the sheer tightness for yourself.

The bravado of opening up with a growling, sweaty Jon Lord-like organ attack is proof of their immediacy and balls, within a minute all the fury and gusto kick in, to wit : cyclical guitar patterns that would make Lifeson-Fripp proud, booming bass undertow and the wickedly dextrous Davenport , bashing away with precise zeal. Within seconds, Ovrfwrd grabs your aural attention and does not let go an inch. 'Firelight' is an aptly named scorcher that lights a hell of a burn under any listener's armchair. The organ scours, scrapes and shatters unflinchingly. One word: WOW!

The fittingly named 'Let it Burn (King George)' keeps the bonfire raging but now adding subtlety to the mix , with a delicate flute to establish contrast , as Ilaug unleashes a crying axe solo that really hits the spot, with Rikki blasting his drum kit mercilessly. The cohesion and maturity are enhanced now more than ever, as the attention to detail, both light and shadow as well as emotional effect, reign supreme. The enchanting title track evokes a gentle veneer, offering orchestral string synths galore, as the clanging guitars envelop the piece in a swirl of progressive bliss. While there are obvious Rush influences (mostly in technical terms), this is an original group of musicians that take their craft very seriously and their catalog clearly proves their dedication.

The heaviness returns momentarily on the explosive 'Looking Up' where Rikki kicks his kit into overdrive (or should I type ovrdrv? pun intended) , before a totally unexpected bass groove settles the scene into a jazzier realm , adorned by some tasty electric piano fills, and some oblique guitar lines that will just blow minds. As the 8 minutes + roll forward, the persistent ebb and flow are quite the spectacle. The piano-led etude 'Daybreak' flashes the spotlight on Chris Malmgren's dexterity on ivories, a relaxed piece that serves as a wonderfully calming break before the final fury.

The tingling 'Zathras' may initially evoke a Steve Howe style of guitar exercise but the mood quickly deflects to a more symphonic approach, what with the slow buildup of piano, keys, rumbling bass and slick drum patterns that coalesce into a rambling colossus. Ilaug rips off a wicked guitar solo full of effect and sizzle, spiralling slowly into the horizon. And now for a total change of pace, the finale is quite the departure. 'From Parts Unknown' shows off some typical American roots, slightly country or folk tinged, as if inspired by Canned Heat or Neil Young, piano still in the place but the guitar twanging and rocking! The intensity of the outro is dazzling, daring to pull off a fade and return delirium as once fathered by Roxy Music on the classic 'In Every Dream Home a Heartache'. Brazen and ballsy once again, they are continuously broadening their palette, much to the prog community's satisfaction. Very gratifying tour de force and a band that deserves the loftiest praise.

Instrumental prog does not get much better than this, serving up unending creativity, impeccable technique and a cohesive musical legacy.

5 astronomical paraphernalia

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars What a sworn unity, I mean this band, the line up as a constant as such, and those high quality standards in the same way. That is Mark Ilaug (guitars), Chris Malmgren (keyboards), Kyle Lund (bass) and drummer Rikki Davenport. Since 2012 they are delivering instrumental progressive rock at its best. And, come what may, f*** Covid-19, as the songs were written between January and July 2020, fortunately they do not stop. My former experiences with this band all were highly positive. Due to complexity and diversity their music bears a proper eclectic mood and ambiance. And now the good news, 'StarStuff' proves that the general spirit is quite evident, still. Thus now my sole fear stays, that I yet will misspell that band name at some point :-) Released via Rock Slacks Music the concept obviously also included a vinyl release on this occasion, that said here we have roundabout 40 minutes playing time, divided in 7 pieces.

With Firelight they immediately set an exclamation mark, OVRFWRD (correct?) is on fire, powerful, with dramatic organ and proper groove. Let It Burn (King George) then sees Paula Gudmundson with some nice flute contribution, and of course Mark Ilaug's haunting guitar solo excursion later on. The title track proves the band's skills that much. Just serves another very melancholic and psychedelic mood, also featuring spheric synths. This album again guarantees an entertaining experience. All over the course Chris Malmgren is underway with an extensive equipment, speaking of organ, piano, Moog and Mellotron. Means a lot to me, regarding approach and execution the OVRFWRD crew belongs to the finest contemporary prog bands deriving from the US.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars These serious proggers from Minneapolis have done it again--and the quality and improvements just keep getting better with each release!

1. "StarStuff" (5:09) awesome space music instrumental with an A-B-A-C-A-B structure! (9.5/10)

2. "Firelight" (5:37) opens with dirty Hammond organ giving us warning for what's ahead in a URIAH HEEP kind of way. By 0:50 the full soundscape has been revealed, by 1:45 the soloing styles of the guitar and organ--at least until the halfway point, at which time the organ serves notice that "part 2" is about to be unleashed. Some cool riffs, motifs, and tempo shifts in that second half thought the song ends feeling kind of unresolved. (8.75/10)

3. "Let It Burn [King George]" (5:58) strumming guitars, acoustic and electric, with flute, bass, organ, piano, and drums filling the space quite sumptuously. Nice switch up at 1:44. This music reminds me of early FROM.UZ. The pastoral flute and tinkling piano and cymbals is nice--but then the flute unexpectedly goes off running, leaving the rest of the band to try to catch up. Nice! Bluesy guitar solo around the 4:00 mark is inspired by the flute, but then takes it further--almost into heavy metal or at least ROBIN TROWER territory. Nice. (9/10)

4. "Look Up" (8:21) a very pleasant excursion into jazz-rock fusion territory--turning more bluesy-psychedelia as the guitar takes over and wails. This is, for once, a rather full and complete sounding song--but, I hate to say it, but it is screaming for a vocalist and some lyrics. (13.5/15)

5. "Daybreak" (2:48) opens with an emotionally-bouncing chord at the low end of a solo piano, which is then joined by the right hand. By the end of the first minute, both hands are moving around the keyboard in a contemplative improvisational way. I'm so reminded of both MAGMA's "Coltrane sundia" as well as an early MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA piece. (4.5/5) 6. "Zathras" (4:35) picking electric guitar and arpeggiating piano weave in and out of each other's paths in a minor key before being joined by cymbals, bass, kick drum, and Mellotron strings and then, finally, around 2:30, full drums. Nice full-band cohesion in expressing this four-chord progression. Wah-ed electric guitar solos in the fourth minute with a more-restrained THE CURE "The Kiss" kind of way. Great ideas and execution but, yet again, the song feels unfinished, unresolved--like it's just a jam. (8.75/10)

7. "From Parts Unknown" (6:25) a little more sparse and spacious--kind of Post Rock-ish--in the opening of this one. The chord progression here is quite similar to that of TOM PETTY's "Free Fallin'" which, for me, is a negative. Nice drumming and solo guitar performances. Like the slow flange of the strumming guitar as the piano and drums start to go crazy for the finish. (8.5/10)

Total Time 38:53

A band who seems to love taking a riff, sound, or chord progression from other classic bands songs to inspire their own jams. All band members are quite proficient instrumentalists, and competent sound engineers, but in order to achieve that top-tier status and recognition, I need to see more development and "finishing" of song ideas. Also, several of these songs are really begging to be sung over. Time to take the next step, boys!

B+/4.5 stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection; some very fine performances of a diverse palette of instrumental prog rock.

Review by FragileKings
4 stars A few years ago, I had the great pleasure of reviewing OVRFWRD's "Fantasy Absent Reason" album. Of a handful of albums I had been asked to review, that one stood out as the most memorable. More recently I reviewed "Blurring the Lines", which is an album I felt showed OVRFWRD reaching their pinnacle. Now this new release has been out for several months and I finally put my reviewer ears on and gave it an attentive listen. Would the band be able to at least do as well as on their incredible previous album?

From the first two tracks, I determine there is a decided seventies feel. It's the rumbling organ in the opening track and the flute in the second track that are the main reasons for impression. OVRFWRD aren't necessarily a retro-prog band and until now have sounded like a modern heavy prog band with the talent of a seventies classic band. But on this album so far, I feel there is a strong presence of the sounds of the seventies.

That changes for track 3, the title track. Now we are in more familiar OVRFWRD territory with powerful, slowly-building music that builds in tension and suspense. My minds eye filled with images of a grad tour of a nebula or the view of a probe landing on an exoplanet. "Starstuff" indeed! This band knows how to create an sonic impression.

One of the things that impressed me on their previous albums and I feel very strongly here once again is the band's tight cohesion. Whether it's a keyboard solo or a guitar solo, or simply the power of instrumental rock, all members are fully onboard contributing to the music in the best way. The rhythm section keeps things anchored while the lead instruments take turns adding flair to the solid rhythm guitars and keyboards. The members gel together perfectly to create music that you can sink right into.

"Daybreak" is a short piano solo composition that seems to hint at Pink Floyd and Chicago, c.1970 without sounding exactly like either. And then we get "Zathras", which is OVRFWRD's specialty instrumental style: beautiful yet developing an unsettling atmosphere that at first is eerie and then evolves with building tension.

I was made to think of Dixie Dreggs during "From Parts Unknown". It's a super track with beautiful piano that goes straight to one's soul. And this is where we reach the problem with the album: It's already over! At only 39 minutes, "Starstuff" is a thrilling joyride that ends way too soon! There are only two options: play the album again or go back and listen an older album like "Blurring the Lines" or "Fantasy Absent Reason".

I'd give this album four and a half stars if could. A heavy prog instrumental band, OVRFWRD is a band many prog fans should be checking out!

Review by kev rowland
4 stars Ovrfwrd are one of the most consistent progressive bands around, with their layers of sound leaving no room at all for vocals. Recorded in a five-day session, here we have the quartet weaving their majestic spell over anyone who comes within hearing distance. Of all their albums this is the one that feels most firmly rooted to the early Seventies, with wonderful Mellotron, Hammond and Moog sounds combined with a real analogue warm feel to proceedings. As it has been since the debut album all the way back in 2014, the band comprise Mark Ilaug (electric & acoustic guitars), Chris Malmgren (keyboards, piano, Moog, Mellotron), Kyle Lund (bass) and Richard Davenport (drums, percussion), but the addition of guest flautist Paula Gudmundson is inspired as her lightness of touch helps cut through the complexity.

Ovrfwrd specialise in progressive rock that is multi-layered and multi-threaded, so much so that space within the music is at a real premium but instead of feeling compressed, their music is all encompassing, a huge sound. Kyle and Richard are always moving the base, always shifting the platform to provide Chris and Mark with a firm foundation for them to build upon, which they do as they utilise different sounds and effects from their instruments, swapping leads. This means we can get warm symphonic sounds like Yes or Genesis, but at others it is far rawer, like classic Atomic Rooster or Mk II Deeo Purple yet there are also moments when they toy with Canterbury and Caravan. One is never sure quite where the music is going to lead, but there is always a real passion and emotion contained within it, an iron fist in a velvet glove as the listener is lulled in just to be taken on a progressive ride. The tempo switches, the dynamics are incredibly important, and the result is yet another hugely impressive album from Ovrfwrd. If you already know the guys then this is an album to be richly appreciated, and if not, then this is a great place to start.

Latest members reviews

5 stars OVRFWRD is an American instrumental progressive rock band formed in 2012; for the record, the singer did not show up during the sessions. Their motto is to refine the vintage sound of the 70's with jazz-rock touches that they like so much on this 4th album. Intense, colorful, engaging music to m ... (read more)

Report this review (#2489829) | Posted by alainPP | Saturday, January 2, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "StarStuff" is the fourth studio album by OVRFWRD, a Minneapolis-based instrumental quartet that has existed for eight years with the same lineup: Chris Malmgren (keyboards), Mark Ilaug (guitar), Kyle Lund (bass) and Richard Davenport (drums). If the previous (2018) album lasted about 54 minutes ... (read more)

Report this review (#2480218) | Posted by felonafan | Thursday, November 26, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The album is performed well and the overall "sound" as far as engineering & production are concerned, is good. I really like the first two songs, Firelight and Let It Burn (King George). Unfortunately, for me it goes down substantially from there. The songwriting just does not move me. It seems ... (read more)

Report this review (#2479742) | Posted by Tull Tales | Tuesday, November 24, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars My introduction to OVRFWRD's music was their last release, Blurring The Lines...A Democracy Manifest which I very much enjoyed. Their latest album StarStuff is due for release at the beginning of October 2020 and demonstrates that this band maintains a consistency in the high quality of its rele ... (read more)

Report this review (#2443717) | Posted by CeeJayGee | Tuesday, September 1, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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