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Ovrfwrd - Occupations of Uninhabited Space CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.00 | 1 ratings

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4 stars The first BluRay concert disc from the suddenly very busy Minneapolis quarter OVRFWRD is a companion piece to their 2018 soundtrack album...or is it the other way around? Both document the same event: an exciting live-in-the-studio sampler of hard-hitting, heavy yet nuanced music drawn from the band's first three studio albums, including their recent "Blurring the Lines...A Democracy Manifest", a top-ten ProgArchives release of the year.

By now the group shouldn't need an introduction, having established itself as one of the most authentic and thrilling instrumental acts of the last decade, updating the guitar-and-keyboard sound of Progressive Rock's golden age without a trace of rose-colored nostalgia. The music in this set, as heard on the earlier soundtrack CD, has already been summarized elsewhere in these pages (by too few reviewers, at this date). The added visual dimension is the primary attraction here, allowing viewers privileged access to their own private OVRFWRD gig.

Clearly some serious thought went into the project, and how best to integrate the cameras into the performance with minimal interference. The discreet photography avoids all the sins of other concert films: full-facial close-ups that hide the actual musicianship; epileptic attention-deficit editing, and so forth. Here, the many cameras were set at a respectful distance from the action: some unmanned and stationary, others operated with unobtrusive zooms and panning to capture every riff and rim shot.

No director is credited, but I have to applaud the decision not to indulge in any trendy, distracting visual hype, outside of a few dramatic (and very cool) fixed overhead shots of Rikki Davenport's drum kit and Chris Malmgren's elaborate keyboard set-up. There's no self-conscious playing to the cameras; no rock star strutting or posing; and very little between-song banter. What we see instead is something more genuine: four ace players presenting their music as the star of the show, and serving that aim in dynamic supporting roles. The music itself is complex, assertive, and often loud enough to rattle the studio walls. But even at its most aggressive (as in the cover of Iron Maiden's "Genghis Khan"), you might be amazed at how effortless it appears: as always the hallmark of true musicians.

In all, quite a handsome package...although I should admit I was only able to stream a preview of the disc, on a small 20-inch monitor with crummy desktop speakers. Watching the full BluRay, in high-def video and on a good sound system, would be a completely different and no doubt stunning experience.

(Consumer addendum: The video set-list differs slightly from the compact disc soundtrack, adding the song "Usul" but shifting "Brother Jack Upduff" to play over the end credits)

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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