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FreddeGredde - Brighter Skies CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.88 | 110 ratings

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4 stars Fredrik Larsson is a fresh young multi-instrumental talent out of Sweden who has a proclivity for Drama-era YES but who is unfortunately cursed with a voice like OWL CITY's singer- songwriter Adam Young--"cursed" because, in this reviewers opinion, the OWL CITY singing approach does not match stylistically well with the YES-like music.

1. "Welcome the Bright Skies" (5:45) introduces us to Mr. Larsson's YES-like sound--that is, until he starts singing. "Fireflies" automatically comes to mind (a song I rather like but whose idiosyncratic vocal approach is, I think, better left as uniquely Adam Young's domain). (I know that Mr. Larsson cannot help that his English singing style sounds so familiar to these experienced ears. My point is, I think, that I don't find the OWL CITY vocal approach to fit very well with your choice of bombastic prog music.) A forgettable song that displays tremedous potential. (7/10)

2. "The Autotelic Self" (11:05) The Drama-era YES/Chris Squire bass sound and Trevor Horn voice make this for an interesting song. It is during this song that I am beginning to think that Mr. LArsson's real gift is in the keyboard department--his choices and uses of multiple sounds throughout a song is quite dextrous, confident and masterful. With each successive listen to this album I find myself tuning out the domineering bass and drums to focus on the more interesting keyboard work. Overlooking the too-busy, too-loud drums, and this is quite an interesting, well-constructed song. Even the vocals work tolerably well on this one. (9/10)

3. "Your Life" (3:00) is quite a cute, entertaining (biographical?) journey through the adventures of a young world-traveller. Quite catchy and engaging, if also poppy. (8/10) 4. "This Fragile Existence" (5:50) is a song with just too many layers, too much going on, and not enough consistency to render it engaging much less memorabl--though a brief GENESIS/TONY BANKS section at 4:25 tries to render this hodgepodge song from forgettability. (7/10)

5. "The Tower" (8:21) is probably my favorite song on the album. It has quite a RENAISSANCE feel to it--especially in the bass sound and foundational role of the piano. Quite symphonically constructed and of varied paced, the song's main flaw is in the singing. The singing sometimes feels forced, as if the singer has to rush the lyrics along to keep pace with the keyboard melody lines. The heavy section beginning at 6:45 is quite powerful. Still, the song could benefit from some more instrumental sections--or simply less singing. Reminds me of GENESIS' "Eleventh Earl of Mar" in that it is musically an incredible song over which the singing and lyrics have a negative effect. (9/10)

6. "Shining" (4:02) is another song of wonderful musical creativity that, unfortunately, suffers from the over-/domineering presence of singing and mismatched lyrics. The singer's approach often reminds me of one JON ANDERSON in the way these quite unusual and unexpected lyrics are sung in quite unexpected places and ways. (8/10) The album's finale and longest song, the epic, 7. "Ocean Mind" (18:24), opens with three minutes of well-crafted symphonic prog bombast. Once the vocal does finally enter, it begins with some admirable restraint while some YES/STARCASTLE-like music fills the background (foreground and wings, too!) Again, the instrumental presentation may be a bit too busy. A softer section in the seventh minute has a TREVOR HORN/YES/BUGGLES feel to it (a feeling I'm revisited by A LOT during this song) before the music returns to a heavier instrumental section. Great keyboards and powerful drumming throughout--though the volume and activity of the drums at times detract attention from the other instruments. The song, unfortunately, wanders all over the musical spectrum without revealing (to me) its purpose or soul. The acoustic guitar backed gentle section in the fifteenth minute is nice, though the reverb and singing style forces that Adam Young/OWL CITY feel upon me as much as ever. The denouement of the final two minutes again leaves me wondering, confused: Is this supposed to be a "Supper's Ready" or an Elton John song? (7/10)

FreddeGredde is a band that I look forward to following in the future as I can see great potential if young Mr. Larsson decides to learn to use a little more restraint--to give more power to the subtleties and incidentals and not so much to the bombastic. He certainly has command of all of the elementals of great prog. Now to learn pacing and more mature presentation.

A 3.5 stars album (between "good" and "excellent") that shows tremendous future potential. I do recommend progsters give this one a listen as I believe Mr. Fredrik Larsson may be destined to contribute great things to the prog lexicon.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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