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Magic Pie - Fragments Of The 5th Element CD (album) cover

FRAGMENTS OF THE 5TH ELEMENT

Magic Pie

 

Symphonic Prog

3.87 | 132 ratings

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TCat
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars How about a slice of MAGIC PIE? Or at least an album from them? It's a Symphonic Prog band from Norway. Now I see you salivating. Let's give them a try.

They have been around since the early 2000s and have sporadically been releasing full length studio albums through the years. Their fifth album, released in August of 2019, is called "Fragments of the 5th Element". The line up and instrumentation for this album consists of 4 of the original members, Kim Stenberg on guitars and vocals who also writes and arranges the songs, Eirik Hanssen on vocals, Lars Petter Holstad on bass and vocals, and Jan Johannessen on drums. Also, the current line up consists of Eirikur Hauksson on lead vocals, and Erling Henager on keyboards and vocals. This album consists of 5 tracks with a total run time of 46 minutes.

The album opens with "The Man Who Had it All" (5:25) with the entire band starting off with swirling synths and guitars leading the way and shifting tempos that immediately cement their claim to progressive music. The feeling is somewhere between symphonic and neo prog, and the song structure shows off a strong connection to early Genesis influences. The music is bright and well produced and the vocals are perfect for the style. Tempos and meters continue to shift throughout, but the Genesis style vibe anchors the sound quite well. Both the excellent keyboards and the great guitar lines share the spotlight producing a perfect balance. It's an excellent start.

"P & C" (5:32) begins with a short instrumental intro and then harmonic vocals take an a cappella melody and then carry it back into an instrumental backing. As it continues, the first instrumental break sees the organ and guitar building up a lot of steam and then an electric piano takes it into jazz fusion territory. A slower section sees the guitar pull the music to a more emotional style, there is some atmospheric synth, and then the main theme returns, then ending with a darker guitar riff. "Table for Two" (4:04) starts with a progressive intro which then smooths out to a steady moderate beat and what seems to be a more accessible melody. The instrumental break gives the synths a chance to show off for a short time before the melody returns. The lyrics are a nice romantic tribute and definitely fit for a more commercial sounding track.

"Touched By an Angel" (8:01) begins with a slow and lovely guitar prelude. Before the 2 minute mark, the vocals begin and the music remains slow and ballad like. Soon, the drums come in with a moderately slow beat, and an emotional and another romantic sounding song begins to build. The cycle continues with the 2nd verse and chorus. With the previous song and this one, we seem to be leaving the Genesis style and moving more towards a Styx-inspired ballad style. Even though this track is longer, it still has a very commercial feel to it, though the guitar solos are nice, and they are used to stretch out the length of the straightforward track. The last minute builds the intensity a bit more for a nice guitar-led and emotional ending.

The last track is the epic "The Hedonist" (22:58). This track fortunately returns to the Symphonic/Neo-prog style again with a long introduction that sees the music shifting tempos and meters, and featuring some nice synth solos and powerful progressive riffs. The vocals start off with a nice, thick harmonic melody, while the music continues to shift in a progressive manner. The music also remains bright, as it does through most of the album, again reminiscent of Genesis, yet very melodic. This longer track also carries many different thematic styles, never settling too long on a single melody, but spreading them around throughout the track. Again, the synth/guitar balance is spot on with each getting a chance to shine, even in this lyrically heavy track. The overall sound slows down in the middle, and a nice string solo appears just before it all picks up again and goes for complete progressive sound again. Somewhere around the 16 minute mark, we go into a jazz fusion style again, but right after, the guitar solo twists it all back to the Neo sound again.

This is a decent album with a lot of balance, yet strong progressive traits, though it does have a couple of more commercial sounding tracks. Again, the music is bright and mostly positive sounding, only venturing into dark territory for short durations. Overall, it works quite well, the sound seeming to lean more towards a Neo-prog sound, but the Symphonic style remains at work through the album. If you are a big fan of the Genesis to Marillion styles, then you should be happy with this album, but other progressive fans should check it out too, especially the last epic track, which is obviously the focus of the album. Only the middle 2 tracks are what I consider a bit too commercial, however, they don't overpower the rest of the album enough to ruin it. The band is talented, the production is excellent and so is the musicianship, so it is definitely worth a serious listen.

TCat | 4/5 |

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