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Bill Bressler - Normal Boy CD (album) cover


Bill Bressler


Symphonic Prog

4.04 | 8 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Bill Bressler is a keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer from New Jersey, USA. Normal Boy is his sole album, originally a digital release, but according to his Bandcamp page it's available also on CD. The cover design is not necessarily very encouraging for a prog listener, but at least the expectation for keyboard-oriented -- and not dead serious -- music is fulfilled. The brief (34:39) album has six tracks, mostly of average song length and one longer piece. Bill Bressler is accompanied by four guys handling bass, guitars and additional vocals, but in addition to the dominant keyboards he plays also guitar and programmed guitars & drums. Programming can sometimes sound stiff and lifeless but not here. Perhaps it's justified to talk of a band effort instead of a one-man work with a little help from friends. Anyway the making of this album has clearly been a labour of love (for prog rock) and it took over three years to finish.

It starts with an elegant half-minute piano solo at the beginning of 'Fits and Starts', followed immediately by a lively full steam instrumental prog passage. The vocals enter in the 3-minute track's calmer latter half, backed by an acoustic guitar and some keys. Bressler is a fairly good vocalist; no particular references come to my mind, but it's an energetic voice typically heard in American rock. The title track incorporates some vocal harmonies and distorted vocals. The composition, or the whole album actually, is a dynamic mixture of hard-edged rock and symphonic prog with both modern and vintage key sounds.

On 'Guitarist' the vocals are partly heavily treated (vocoder?) which I don't like on this otherwise interesting song. On the mellower moments the keyboard sound reminds me of A Curious Feeling (Tony Banks), or Supertramp, but some wild Hammond and Mellotron sounds also appear. The electric guitar is gritty and biting. The album's highlight is definitely the 12-minute piece 'The Walk'. It is packed with energy, wit and tempo changes. One moment it may resemble 10cc, the next moment Spock's Beard.

All in all this music is emphasizing the modern prog instead of the 70's influences such as Genesis, Yes or Rush, and it also sounds very American. It is so well done that I have to rate it with four stars despite some negative details.

Matti | 4/5 |


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