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ERIK NORLANDER

Neo-Prog • United States


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Erik Norlander biography
ERIK NORLANDER is the keyboardist for the ROCKET SCIENTISTS and also for his wife Lana Lane's band. He has also worked as a session musician for MARK BOALS, AYREON, STAR ONE and many others. He has released five solo albums and a live album in between working with his two bands. On his solo albums, he has worked with such well-known artists as Glenn Hughes, Edward Reekers, Arjen Lucassen, Robert Soeterbek and Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, as well as his wife and his bandmates from the ROCKET SCIENTISTS.

His first solo excursion, released in 1997, was an entirely instrumental affair, primarily a symphonic keyboard-driven album, although also including drums and bass guitar. Keith Emerson was so impressed with Norlander's "Threshold" album, that he wrote the liner notes for it. On his second solo album, released in 2000, he moved away from the completely symphonic, embracing a much harder prog style, with vocals this time and with Arjen Lucassen providing guitars and several vocalists from the hard rock/heavy prog arena singing.

In 2003, Norlander released "Music Man", a 2CD rock opera concept album about the dramatic rise and fall of a genetically engineered rock star. With this release he again produced an album primarily in the heavy prog arena, although there was also some symphonic as well as some ambient/electronic work on the album as well. The following year, he released two albums, the live "Stars Rain Down" combining tracks from his first three solo releases as well as a ROCKET SCIENTISTS song and a cover of the theme to "Space: 1999".

For his second release of the year, "Seas of Orion" he returned to the fully instrumental, but this time focusing more on the ambient/electronic side of prog, although there were still touches of the symphonic. In 2007, he released an album of covers titled "Hommage Symphonique". On this album, he covered songs by ELP, PROCOL HARUM, YES and JETHRO TULL, among others.

Erik's music has some echoes of work of AYREON and full of breaks close to EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, TRACE or SOCIAL TENSION with classical, jazzy, medieval and even hard accents. Erik's evocative synthesizer technique is reminiscent of the legendary RICK WAKEMAN, KEITH EMERSON and JON LORD while still very unique and forward-moving in its own right.

Erik is from Southern California but many of his guest appearances and tours have taken him to Europe where he is better known. All his recordings are recommended...
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Erik Norlander official website

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Buy ERIK NORLANDER Music


Hommage SymphoniqueHommage Symphonique
Think Tank Media 2006
Audio CD$9.11
$3.40 (used)
The Galactic CollectiveThe Galactic Collective
Think Tank Media / Chian Productions 2010
Audio CD$17.06
$9.97 (used)
Stars Rain DownStars Rain Down
Think Tank Media 2004
Audio CD$9.11
$10.99 (used)
Music MachineMusic Machine
THINKTANK 2001
Audio CD$19.95
$8.39 (used)
Galactic Collective: Live in GettysburgGalactic Collective: Live in Gettysburg
United States of Distribution 2013
Audio CD$20.03
Seas of OrionSeas of Orion
CD Baby 2005
Audio CD$23.69
$21.86 (used)
Threshold: Special EditionThreshold: Special Edition
Think Tank Media 2004
Audio CD$10.05
$10.00 (used)
ThresholdThreshold
Kinesis Records 1999
Audio CD$11.62
$9.12 (used)
Into the SunsetInto the Sunset
CD Baby 2004
Audio CD$10.27
$40.06 (used)
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ERIK NORLANDER shows & tickets


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ERIK NORLANDER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ERIK NORLANDER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.65 | 16 ratings
Threshold
1997
3.66 | 19 ratings
Into The Sunset
2000
3.74 | 27 ratings
Music Machine
2003
2.60 | 11 ratings
Seas Of Orion
2004
3.03 | 15 ratings
Hommage Symphonique
2007
3.74 | 58 ratings
The Galactic Collective
2010

ERIK NORLANDER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 9 ratings
Stars Rain Down
2004
3.05 | 2 ratings
Erik Norlander and Friends Live in St. Petersburg
2006

ERIK NORLANDER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Erik Norlander and Friends Live in St. Petersburg
2006
4.02 | 5 ratings
The Galactic Collective Live In Gettysburg (DVD)
2012

ERIK NORLANDER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition
2012

ERIK NORLANDER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ERIK NORLANDER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Galactic Collective Live In Gettysburg (DVD) by NORLANDER, ERIK album cover DVD/Video, 2012
4.02 | 5 ratings

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The Galactic Collective Live In Gettysburg (DVD)
Erik Norlander Neo-Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

3 stars Erik Norlander is a Progressive Rock keyboardist, composer and producer from California, the USA. He's quite prolific in his area of work and has over 30 albums recorded since 1993. He was involved in many different projects e.g. with Lana Lane (who is also his wife), his band Rocket Scientists, his own solo albums and numerous guest appearances.

Erik is an old-fashioned keyboard man with a passion for the Moog Synths. He has also personally led sound design efforts on several major brand synthesizers.

In the year 2010 he decided to take the best instrumental material he had written so far for all the albums he had made and re-recorded them in a great style. Then the original The Galactic Collective (2010) was born, but only a preview of the whole work was released in CD-R format. Erik was not that happy with that release and 2 years later, on August 6th, he decided to go full on that trip field again with The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition (2012), a 2 CD/DVD box with all the material from the 2010 album but now with everything in video as well. He also released a live version called The Galactic Collective: Live in Gettysburg. Both releases came to life by Erik's own company, the Think Tank Media, with distribution of Gonzo Multimidia. Each box contains deluxe, full-color 5x7" booklets with extensive liner notes written by those directly involved with the project and 2CD/DVD combo.

In 2011 Erik took the base of musicians that recorded the original project and went on tour with them.

The show presented in the DVD and 2CD set was taken from the RoSFest concert that happened on May 21 and includes the complete studio album. So, if you have the Studio box, it is quite odd to have the live one as well. Unless you're a hardcore fan.

On the stage Erik Norlander (keyboards), Freddy DeMarco (guitars), Mark Matthews (bass) and Nick LePar (drums) are joined by Lana Lane in some tracks.

Here the DVD is the most interesting part, not the CD. The band is sharp and very good. The one thing is that I'm not a fan of live recordings, so in my opinion the studio one is more interesting. But I do like a lot of live concerts on video.

In general, both releases are worthy, a lot. There are some great moments with great musicianship and will be just right for an audience that like Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Rick Wakeman but with a modern approach. You just have to decide what's your favorite format: Studio or Live.

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 The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition by NORLANDER, ERIK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2012
4.00 | 2 ratings

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The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition
Erik Norlander Neo-Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

4 stars Erik Norlander is a Progressive Rock keyboardist, composer and producer from California, the USA. He's quite prolific in his area of work and has over 30 albums recorded since 1993. He was involved in many different projects e.g. with Lana Lane (who is also his wife), his band Rocket Scientists, his own solo albums and numerous guest appearances.

Erik is an old-fashioned keyboard man with a passion for the Moog Synths. He has also personally led sound design efforts on several major brand synthesizers.

In the year 2010 he decided to take the best instrumental material he had written so far for all the albums he had made and re-recorded them in a great style. Then the original The Galactic Collective (2010) was born, but only a preview of the whole work was released in CD-R format. Erik was not that happy with that release and 2 years later, on August 6th, he decided to go full on that trip field again with The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition (2012), a 2 CD/DVD box with all the material from the 2010 album but now with everything in video as well. He also released a live version called The Galactic Collective: Live in Gettysburg. Both releases came to life by Erik's own company, the Think Tank Media, with distribution of Gonzo Multimidia. Each box contains deluxe, full-color 5x7" booklets with extensive liner notes written by those directly involved with the project and 2CD/DVD combo.

Back in the year of 2009 Erik entered the Studio to re-record some of his favorite instrumental compositions. He joined forces with Mark Matthews (bass), Nick LePar (drums and percussion) and Freddy DeMarco (guitars) and in 2010 he released a CD-R of this work. In 2011/2012 he tried again, this time with video and guest members in some tracks like John Payne (guitars and vocals), Mitch Perry (guitar), Ron Redfield (guitar), Mark McCrite (acoustic guitars) and his wife Lana Lane (vocals).

The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition (2012), the audio, is a very polished work. Well played and with a very good production. Many good tracks are included in this Box. 'Arrival/Neurossaur', 'Sky Full Of Stars', 'Trantor Station', 'The Dark Water' (now transformed in one single epic track, more than 20 minutes long) are full of Erik's trade mark, his synths. And great heavy guitar-driven riffs.

I cannot say the same about the video. On the DVD we have a kind of documentary, where Erik himself presents all the songs with details, technical or not, including lots of stories about the tracks. If on the one hand it is very nice to see the band's recordings, on the other hand the quality of the interviews is kinda amateurish, with Erik always looking to anyplace, except for the camera, which is very weird.

In general, both releases are worthy, a lot. There are some great moments with great musicianship and will be just right for an audience that like Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Rick Wakeman but with a modern approach. You just have to decide what's your favorite format: Studio or Live.

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 Threshold by NORLANDER, ERIK album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.65 | 16 ratings

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Threshold
Erik Norlander Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars Leading figure of US Progsters Rocket Scientists and one of the most prolific figures in the modern Progressive Rock scene.Erik Norlander was inronically born in 1967 in Hollywood, as his music has nothing to do with the Hollywood blockbusters, and started a very productive career in early-90's with Rocket Scientists.His collaborations though include artists like David Ragsdale, Keith Emerson, Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, James Labrie, Virgil Donati and many others.His is married to female singer Lana Lane, while since 1997 he produces also solo works under his own name, the first one being ''Threshold'' from June 1997 on Kinesis label, where he is helped by Rocket Scientists bandmate Don Schiff on bass and Greg Ellis on drums.

The album was intented to be recorded just for fun according to Norlander and some of this energy is reflected on the first few tracks, which contain plenty of EMERSON-ian bits in a light Symphonic/Fusion style with good use of organ and synthesizers, interesting grooves, solid rhythm parts and a fair amount of virtuosity.''No Cross to Carry'' even contains some great GETLE GIANT-like funky grooves on what I suppose is a sampled clavinet.''Neuro Boogie'' is the most consistent track though with a memorable keyboard performance in E.L.P. vein and nice changing themes.The closing ''Critical Mass'' is another good attempt by Norlander to mic Symphonic Rock with Electronic Music with dramatic synth textures in the vein of NUOVA ERA and some fine piano interludes, minus is the sometimes cheap keyboard sounds.However the rest of the tracks,suprisingly two of them happen to be the longest ones, are consumed in a boring New Age/Electronic style with fake sampled instruments, spacey vibes and annoying plastic drumming.No sign of melody, no sign of harmonic parts, no sign of life.Repetitive and hypnotic stuff all the way, makin' ''Threshold'' much of an uneven album.

I hate to say that ''Threshold'' is totally ruined by these hypnotic and monotonous New Age compositions.The rest of the album is decent with some good keyboard ideas, worthy of Norlander's talent, but it is recommended to stick with his most solid solo efforts or with his better albums with Rocket Scientists...2.5 stars.

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 The Galactic Collective Live In Gettysburg (DVD) by NORLANDER, ERIK album cover DVD/Video, 2012
4.02 | 5 ratings

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The Galactic Collective Live In Gettysburg (DVD)
Erik Norlander Neo-Prog

Review by Muzikman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Erik Norlander's biography on his website starts by saying he is a progressive rock keyboardist, composer and producer from California that has written and produced over 30 albums since 1993 with his chanteuse spouse Lana Lane and his band Rocket Scientists. Is that enough to impress? I would think so if you have never heard of the artist or any of his work. Erik's band consists of Freddy DeMarco (guitars), Mark Matthews (bass), Nick LePar (drums) and his lovely spouse Lana Lane (vocals). I can you tell you he does back up that initial statement with a solid back log of recordings and most recently this 2CD/1 DVD collection Live In Gettysburg distributed by the folks at Gonzo Multimedia. This is a beautiful set that gives you the option of popping the CDs in your stereo or iTunes or kicking back and watching the entire concert and listening in surround sound. I enjoyed both experiences completely. The thing about a guy like Norlander is that he does not stand out in the hall of legendary ivory ticklers such as a Wakeman, Emerson or Rudess. After listening to all of his music I think it may be time to look a little harder at this great musician and all of the tremendous contributions made to the development of keyboard advancements and the great progressive rock he has produced. It takes a set like this for it all to sink in entirely. I found Norlander's music moving, majestic and powerful. It makes you feel like you are getting ready to go into battle with King Arthur and his court at times or at the other end of the spectrum with the thought of the 'Galactic Collective' term in mind, you have visions of deep space exploration or floating amongst the stars via the spacey notes emanating from his very large keyboard set. He has that monstrous wall of equipment similar to what Keith Emerson used when he was with ELP. I find it difficult to single out any one track as being a stand out from the rest as the entire collection is outstanding. Visually there is not a lot going on with the DVD, it is just the band and Erik talking about the songs, the equipment and how the band came together. Things like that can be of interest to a listener. If you looking for a visual presentation you will not find it here, however if your only concern is what you are hearing then it takes no more than shutting your eyes and letting Erik and his band take you wherever you please. I also enjoyed the vocals of Lana Lane. She has very powerful set of pipes and a good stage presence. By the time this entire experience was complete I found myself looking at all the releases Norlander and Lane have available. Everything is listed right on his website so it is worth exploring if you are interested. Live In Gettysburg is a must have collection if you enjoy keyboard music and or progressive rock. Don't miss out on this release.

Key Tracks: Secrets of Astrology, Trantor Station, Sky Full of Stars

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 The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition by NORLANDER, ERIK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2012
4.00 | 2 ratings

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The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition
Erik Norlander Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Space: 1999

If you already have the original 2010 studio release of The Galactic Collective as well as the excellent The Galactic Collective Live In Gettysburg concert DVD and 2CD set, this "definitive edition" DVD and 2CD set is really only a valuable addition if you are a fan or collector. What you get here that the original studio album did not already include is a new audio-only cover version of Space: 1999 (a tune that Norlander first recorded for Rocket Scientists' Oblivion Days album), a couple of alternate versions of tracks appearing on the main album, and lots of video interviews. Also on the DVD we can see Norlander and his band performing the songs in the studio. While this is interesting, it is not nearly as interesting as it was seeing them perform live on the Live In Gettysburg DVD. The interviews and studio performances are good, but not something that I will watch more than once or twice.

My advice is therefore to first of all get the superb Live In Gettysburg DVD (see my five star review for further comments) and only thereafter to get either the original single CD studio album or this new definitive edition set. They are very good, but only hard core fans need both of them. Excellent music!

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 The Galactic Collective Live In Gettysburg (DVD) by NORLANDER, ERIK album cover DVD/Video, 2012
4.02 | 5 ratings

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The Galactic Collective Live In Gettysburg (DVD)
Erik Norlander Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

5 stars Fanfare for Erik Norlander

This brand new live concert DVD and two CD set features a full show recorded at The Rites of Spring Festival in 2011. The amazing set list consists of the very best of Erik Norlander's instrumental works that originally appeared on his solo albums, his works with Rocket Scientists, and his works with Lana Lane. As such, this brilliant performance sums up Norlander's whole career as a keyboard player, composer, and producer; long may it continue. These compositions were first re-recorded live-in-the-studio in 2010 resulting in The Galactic Collective studio album. That album gave a very convincing snapshot of Norlander's immense talents as a composer and instrumentalist, but it is on this excellent live recording that these tunes really come to life. In addition, this live performance offers more great content as well as a visual element. Fans of people like Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, and Patrick Moraz should sit up and take note. Norlander will blow you away!

The concert opens with Arrival and Neurosaur that originally opened Norlander's first solo album, Threshold from 1997. This number has since become something of a signature tune for Norlander and it fits perfectly as a show opener. Next up is Fanfare For Absent Friends that originally was on Erik's Progressive Electronic solo album Seas Of Orion from 2004. This live version is clearly more rocking than the original version and an improvement on an already great tune. They carry on with Sky Full Of Stars, originally from the conceptual Music Machine album from 2003. This symphonic instrumental is creatively merged with the Lana Lane song Capture The Sun which features Lana Lane herself on lead vocals. This is the first out of four vocal numbers in this otherwise entirely instrumental show. Lana Lane is an amazing singer and adds great value to this performance and the presence of a few vocal numbers among the instrumental ones brings a very nice variation to the whole.

Lana Lane appears on lead vocals again on the next number, the superb Secrets Of Astrology. While on the studio version of The Galactic Collective only the instrumental introduction Astrology Prelude was recreated which felt a little truncated without its natural companion in Secrets Of Astrology. On this live performance, the whole Astrology Suite is restored the way it should be and the way it was on the excellent Lana Lane album of that same name.

Another tune from Threshold follows in Trantor Station, another wonderful, spacy instrumental. After The Revolution is the first out of two Rocket Scientists numbers, this one originally appearing on the 2006 Revolution Road album. Like almost every track here, this is the ultimate version. The 20 minute plus The Dark Water was originally split up into shorter introductions and interludes on the Rocket Scientists albums Brutal Architecture and Oblivion Days, but here they are presented as one long piece as on the studio version of The Galactic Collective. While on the latter I felt that it was a bit too long for its own good, this live version justifies the great length of the song.

In addition to all of the tunes from The Galactic Collective, Norlander also treats us to an extended suite from his very good solo album Into The Sunset containing two vocal numbers again performed by the wonderful Lana Lane. This amazing suite constitutes a very valuable addition to the set. However, the piano-driven Dreamcurrents is the only tune that I think is better on the studio version of The Galactic Collective (due to the middle section on that extended version being present neither here nor on the original Into The Sunset version). Still, this truncated version is not bad at all and contains simply brilliant piano playing.

For some reason, the recording of Garden Of The Moon is taken from a different show and is a bonus track on the DVD but part of the main set on the accompanying CDs. Another difference between the DVD and the CDs is that some of the in-between-song-banter has been appropriately edited out on the CDs. This is I think a very good idea and justifies the addition of the two CDs in the package. The CDs are preferable for repeated listening.

In conclusion, this is nothing short of a live masterpiece and there is no doubt about the rating here. Very highly recommended!

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 Hommage Symphonique by NORLANDER, ERIK album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.03 | 15 ratings

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Hommage Symphonique
Erik Norlander Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars A cover album

As implied by the title, Hommage Symphonique is a tribute to Norlander's musical influences. It contains eight cover versions, most of which are all-time classics of progressive Rock. Most of the giants of Prog are represented including songs by Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson.

The disc opens with Procol Harum's Conquistador. The lead vocals are ably handled by Kelly Keeling throughout the whole album. It continues with Rick Wakeman's Lancelot And The Black Knight, Yes' Turn Of The Century, Emerson Lake & Palmer's Pirates, Jethro Tull's Clasp, Electric Light Orchestra's Ocean Breakup / King Of The Universe. The only tune that I was not previously familiar with is Children Of Sanchez Overture originally by Chuck Mangione. The disc ends with King Crimson's Starless.

All of the covers are well-made, though as usual with covers, I prefer the original versions. Norlander is an amazing keyboard player and producer. He is great composer himself as well, so there wasn't really any need for him to record other people's material.

I can recommend this for fans only

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 Erik Norlander and Friends Live in St. Petersburg by NORLANDER, ERIK album cover Live, 2006
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Erik Norlander and Friends Live in St. Petersburg
Erik Norlander Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars To Russia with love

This second live release from Erik Norlander is not as impressive as his first one, the excellent Stars Rain Down. Some songs that already appeared on that live album reappear here; Neurosaur (originally from Norlander's solo debut Threshold), Mariner (originally from the Rocket Scientists' Brutal Architecture album), and Sky Full Of Stars, Beware The Vampires and One Of The Machines (all originally from the conceptual double-album Music Machine). These songs are all great, and just like the Stars Rain Down-versions these versions also constitute improvements over the studio counterparts. Still, they add little of value for those who already have Stars Rain Down.

What did not appear on Stars Rain Down and that makes this live album a reasonable addition are Fanfare For Absent Friends (originally from the Progressive Electronic album Seas Of Orion), Dreamcurrents (a lovely piano piece originally from Into The Sunset), and Fallen (one more from Music Machine). The first on these is divided into two parts for some reason, but it is really only part 2 that is great.

In addition there are two Lana Lane songs. Both of these are excellent, but I would rather listen to them in their natural habitat (check out the excellent Lana Lane 10th Anniversary DVD). There is also a cover of Procol Harum's A Salty Dog and a version of the James Bond theme song To Russia With Love. These I find somewhat unnecessary and out of place. I feel that this set simply draws on too many different sources. It makes it a bit incoherent.

I therefore strongly recommend to start with Stars Rain Down, and then Norlander's studio albums, and, of course, Lana Lane's many good albums. The present live album is not bad at all in its own right, but it feels somehow redundant and a bit inchoate.

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 Threshold by NORLANDER, ERIK album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.65 | 16 ratings

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Threshold
Erik Norlander Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars The arrival of the Neurosaur

Threshold was Erik Norlander's first solo release. At this time Norlander was already a major force in the Symphonic Prog band Rocket Scientists and in the Symphonic Rock/Metal band of his wife Lana Lane, but it was before his work as a session musician for several of Arjen Lucassen's projects (Ayreon, Star One, and Ambeon) and before he became a full-time member of the John Payne-version of Asia.

Both Metal fans and fans of Symphonic Prog ought to be warned: there is nothing either heavy and hard-edged or particularly symphonic to be found here. This music is not so easy to categorize, but the first thing to note is the sparse line-up. It is just Norlander himself on keyboards, Don Schiff on bass, and Greg Ellis on drums, so no guitars or vocals. Is it Jazz- Rock/Fusion? Is it Progressive Electronic? Or maybe just Prog Related keyboard-driven instrumental Rock? I guess one could say that it lies on the threshold between these styles.

Out of Norlander's subsequent solo albums, Threshold is most similar to Seas Of Orion and The Galactic Collective - both also wholly instrumental affairs. In terms of quality, the present album falls between these two. The Galactic Collective is an album of re-recordings from throughout Norlander's career and includes new and mostly better versions of tunes from both the present album and from his other solo albums (as well as new versions of a couple of instrumentals that originally appeared on Rocket Scientists and Lana Lane albums).

The most notable piece here is Neurosaur that has become something of Norlander's signature tune. This one is indeed essential, but it is available on several other releases including the above mentioned The Galactic Collective as well as the excellent live album Stars Rain Down and other places (he even re-recorded it with Asia featuring John Payne as a B-side to their Military Man CD-single in 2009).

Though the present album is a pleasant listen, I would recommend The Galactic Collective as a better starting point if you are interested in the instrumental side of Erik Norlander. Though personally, I prefer his vocal albums.

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 Music Machine by NORLANDER, ERIK album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.74 | 27 ratings

BUY
Music Machine
Erik Norlander Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars "This is the story of Johnny America, a new kind of music machine"

Just like David Bowie's classic The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, Erik Norlander's Music Machine is a concept album about an imaginary Rock Star. The storyline and the lyrics of this "Heavy Metal symphony" are sadly rather cheesy and full of cliches, but the music itself is mostly very good. The styles involved on this massive double album include traditional Heavy Metal in the vein of Deep Purple and Dio-era Black Sabbath, Classic Rock, Neo-Classical Metal, Progressive Metal, Power Metal, Hard Rock, Blues Rock and energetic keyboard-driven Symphonic Prog in the vein of Emerson Lake & Palmer.

The guests include Mark Boals (who also provided vocals for Yngwie Malmsteen), Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (of Blue Oyster Cult-fame), and drummer Vinny Appice (who played with Black Sabbath and Dio), and several others. The backgrounds of these musicians give you further clues of what you will find here. Ayreon's Metal Operas, that relied on a similar set of styles (and to which Norlander contributed), might also provide some hints. Though, thank goodness, Music Machine is not as sprawling and all-over-the-place as Ayreon's works, I am sure that it will appeal to many of the same fans. The vocalists and instrumentalists involved are all very good, but the foremost instrument are Norlander's brilliant keyboard playing.

There certainly are some great moments on this album but also a few weaker moments. With a running time of one hour and 46 minutes, you tend to get a little bit exhausted towards the end even if it is mostly very good music. Had the cheesy storyline been toned down somewhat and the running time been brought down to fit on a single disc, Music Machine could probably have attracted a higher rating from me. But as it stands it is just a good, and not a fantastic, follow-up to Into The Sunset. Both of these studio albums are definitely recommended, but the live album Stars Rain Down is more consistent and provides a nice cross-section of tracks from these two albums plus some of Norlander's best works from other sources.

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