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Abel Ganz - Shooting Albatross CD (album) cover


Abel Ganz



4.02 | 180 ratings

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5 stars I know it's a bit corny and slightly abused but Forrest Gump's now infamously adroit words must be paraphrased here as "Prog is like a box of chocolates , you never know what you're going to get" , in reference to Abel Ganz' latest venture. Silly me, I sort of dismissed these Scots as pseudo-Pallas wannabes, with a strong Fish wish and nothing really to kneel in prayer over. I am generally very demanding with anything coined as "neo", well hardy har har, jokes on me! What a steaming surprise this is, thank you PA colleague and friend "synthphony" for this eye and ear opening gift ! Everything about this release smacks of unheralded genius, from the gorgeous heraldic artwork oddly reminiscent of Tull's "Crest of a Knave" to the well-thought out structure of 4 whopping epics , all well over a dozen minutes in length, stellar musicianship and outstanding vocal work by former and newer members. "Looking for A Platform" debuts with a plaintive Celtic musing welding well with clearly Genesis-like interplay between acoustic guitars and dreamy synthesizer washes, a perfect "platform" for some fabulously Fishy-Gabrielesque microphone work from multi-instrumentalist Hugh Carter, slide and lead guitar expressions from the previously unknown (to me) fretman Davie Mitchell and Hew Montgomery's exhilarating keyboard runs including an ornate piano solo (ah such a lovely instrument), dizzying organ splashes and whirling synth menageries. I am stunned by the overall quality, though heavily influenced by the Neo Gods but with a way more clever rhythm section that infuses some wondrous nobility. I say well so what when it's this luxuriant! "So Far" is a juicy 23 minute+ maelstrom that has all the hallmarks of creative genius within an admittedly narrow genre, tidal effects, pastoral flute renditions, wailing violin intros, a coop guitar and synth-led main theme that sets the perfect stage for Alan Reed (ex-member now with fellow Scots Pallas) to croon majestically with at first trembling delicacy, as the Spanish guitar motif morphs into a blistering lead with some lusty gusto. The muffled- effect laden voiced chorus is pure bliss and an immediate confirmation that we are in the presence of something special. The monstrous synth solo is brimming with unrepentant bravado, a growling organ toying with a sturdy wah-wah (another oft underused effect) guitar run (Magenta's Chris Fry?) and the smile starts setting in BIG TIME. The instrumental twist and turns are stunning, with dashes of harpsichord here and acoustic guitar there, a rush of brief e-piano, playful vocal musings and obvious "smirky" pleasure when washing in some opportunely dosed and poignant mellotron (especially the choir effects, my wobbly knees). Bravo! I never expected this to be so enjoyable, gagagagaga! Finally a worthy epic to challenge IQ's "Harvest of Souls", who would have thought! "Sheepish" displays a little of that famed upbeat Scottish humor , with an immediate romp into raunchier territory , certainly nothing sheepish here , a rollicking, colliding roller coaster that rocks assuredly, the mike now passed onto the gentler pipes of Carter again, with a raging bass-drum and rhythm guitar crunch. The solo spots are sweltering and genially effervescent, with occasional temperate doses of contemplation that let the tides breathe accordingly. A Hackett inspired lead guitar solo has no need for deft finger work; all is in the crescendo-like emotion! How about a Hammond blast that winks boldly at Triumvirat's Jürgen Fritz? Lovely music this is, a pure joy! "Ventura" caps off this gigantic disc, a folkier flute driven tribute to a departed soul, with gentle vocals from Stuart MacFarlane, a mid-section of respectful silence and then Carter taking over for the last hurrah. Whirling guitars and assorted keys sprinkle more creativity onto an already vibrant arrangement. The mighty mellotron shines again brightly, hinting briefly at Hero & Heroine-era the Strawbs, which is sublime confirmation of their proggy credentials. I have listened to this masterpiece over and over, spellbound by the newly emerging discoveries among its detailed grooves. The big surprise . 5 Loch Ness Pelicans.
tszirmay | 5/5 |


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