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Mangrove - Beyond Reality CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.60 | 53 ratings

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4 stars Mangrove is proving itself as a mainstay on the celebrated and vivacious Dutch prog scene, their new release hot on the heels of upcoming releases from fellow countrymen Leap Day and a third chapter for Knight Area. Allegedly a long awaited Odyssice is in the cards, being recorded as we write. So thinks are proggy in Holland and these dedicated musicians feel no difficulty in pursuing their musical quest, diving even deeper into the lush, extended symphonics that characterize their sound. "Beyond Reality" simply is the extension of "Facing the Sunset" with a resolute addiction to epic pieces, in the 13 to 20 minute range, with colossal sweeps and elongated instrumental passages in a classic thematic album, well within the sanctified tradition. "Daydreamer's Nightmare" explains their methodology succinctly, with endless variations on a central premise, occasional pompous grandeur that is most welcome for being above all, astute, highlighted by Hackett-toned guitar swirls from Roland van der Horst, as well as Chris Jonker's sinuous keyboard acrobatics. The whopping 18 minute + "Time Will Tell" is more upbeat, predictable laying the ground for the "story" , a romping digression that can seem a tad simplistic but a sense of balance is what makes this album tick. A sultry electric piano and a friendly jangling guitar gives this a breezy, tropical feel (see what Aruba does to you!), a rarely attempted style that molds perfectly here, especially when the synthesizers go galactic. A huge van der Horst foray leaves no stone unturned, scouring the horizon with Machiavellian insistence. The middle section has a Floyd feel to die for, a gentle binary lilt with its deliberate slide guitar, droning keys and bluesy atmospherics , completely priceless (if you're going to do PF, do it well, it ain't that complicated !), you would swear being on the Moon wishing you were here! (playing with your words again!). The Camel-like development is first-rate, getting more powerful and hence, less influenced, even though the long synth attack is pure Bardens. The last few minutes are verging on hysteria, mellotron blaring defiantly, a totally classic Genesis moment. Yes, they wear their revered mentors on their habile cuffs without any reservation and open, honest respect. The righteous "Love and Beyond" is perhaps close to classic Styx balladry (in a good sense) but when you have such a glorious melody to play with, how can you not be impressed. A romantic little ditty well positioned as an interlude. The nearly 7 minute "Reality Fades" is where these guys really get the picture, a haunting, faraway church bell tolls the melancholy until the magnificent van der Horst takes over the Rover and ushers in a bold guitar statement that is pure ear candy, some sprightly bass runs from Peter Drost and depth charge drumming from Joost Hagenmeijer and the deed is done. The title track kicks off with an elegant piano etude, an imperial guitar segment that heightens the tempo and the urgency becomes obedient to the cause, a blooming piece of symphonic prog that is ruined only slightly by forced vocals that tragically fail (strange, the voice is pretty good throughout though) . The upward spiraling symphonic vortex is splendid until the voice gets in the mix. Of well! Small blip! "Voyager" redeems the temporary confusion with a ripping "Cold as Ice" by Foreigner riff, followed by some good old fashioned "music muscle" flexing. Pretty pleasant finale that kept me content all the way through. I cannot anoint this with perfection because it isn't close to Nirvana. They are getting there but this is only a slight improvement on "Sunset". When they progress into denser theatrics and cut out the occasional "manque de jugement" (lack of?), they will be a force to bow down to. 4 eternal mirrors
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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