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Pär Lindh Project - Gothic Impressions CD (album) cover


Pär Lindh Project


Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 112 ratings

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5 stars It's very rare to find a super group that actually works because normally they present a collection of huge egos trying to prove each one is absolutely superior to the rest, and the result is chaotic in most of the cases.

I believe Pär Lindh found the perfect formula in "Gothic Impressions", he kept his name for the band and joined the most competent Swedish musicians from ÅNGLÃGARD, FLOWER KINGS, PÄR LINDH & BJORN JOHANSSON plus the PÄR LINDH PROJECT members and the CAMERATA VOCALIS. But there was no doubt, the leader and mastermind of this album is Pär Lindh and all the rest are almost guests, so the fight for power was avoided.

There's an urban legend that this album was recorded during the 70's and due to lack of support it wasn't released until 1994, but this is not very likely, because musicians as Mattias Olson and Anna Holmgren were born in 1975 and 1969 (respectively) plus the fact that Pär Lind joined his first Hard Rock band (Anthena Baroque) in 1977 and only in 1978 joined an Art Rock trio called Vincebus Eruptun who played several gigs, but he almost immediately left the rock world and returned to his classical career as Pianist Harpsichordist and in 1980 joined The Royal Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

It's only until 1989 when he decides to dedicate his live to Progressive Rock and joins a local band called Manticore during that period he built his own studio where he recorded "Gothic Impressions" with the best Swedish musicians available in te moment including Roine Stolt, so believe it or not, Gothic Impressions is a product of the 90's with the clear sound style and quality of the 70's.

In the beginnings of the 90's Sweden was a fertile ground for Progressive Rock's rebirth with a lot of classically rained musicians and a great love for early Prog', many bands started before PÄR LINDH PROJECT but all this second air has it's base in "The Swedish Art Rock Society" formed in 1991 by Pär Lindh.

Now, how to describe "Gothic Impressions", is it a Symphonic Prog Rock album with huge classical (as a broad term that goes from late Medieval or Gothic to Modern Classical) and special emphasis in late Gothic and Baroque or a Classical Orchestra with Rock touches?

Sincerely I don't know or care, because the music is spectacular and that's all that matters, Pär's skills as keyboardist are highly underrated, I believe he's in the same level as such monsters as Wakeman, or Emerson, but with a most solid formation.

His compositional skills are very well developed due to a very complete formal musical education in several instruments and a live devoted to music. But of course one of the reasons of his success is that he chooses the best musicians available, so the result is simply outstanding.

The album opens with Dresden Lamentations", a gothic piece of music, dark and haunting with clear Canonic/Religious sound that proves what a great Organ player Pär is, a great intro that blends perfectly with "The Iconoclast", a more Baroque piece of music with a hard Rock edge, where Lindh proves he's as good with Hammond as with Church organ.

The vocals seem to be out of key somet8imes, but in my opinion it's done with the clear intention to create a desired Gothic sound almost as monks praying, outstanding work by Mattias Olson with the drums, especially if you notice that the guy was 19 years old by that point. When the song reaches to organ climax and seems to ends, starts a short instrumental section clearly influenced by he Anglagard members that lead to s softer and a bit cacophonic end. Brilliant.

"Green Meadow Land" starts softer and somehow Flemish oriented but again the powerful chorals by Camerata Vocalis bring us back to the late Gothic era mixed with Rock fugues, the vocals (believe by Joke Ramsell) seem out of tune but fit perfectly with the desired atmosphere, appears simpler and less ambitious than the previous tracks until around the middle where Anna Holmgren and her wonderful flute make the change, the music flows gently in crescendo leading to an explosive Organ section and an early Crimsonian vocal Pärt somehow reminiscent of In the Court of the Crimson King album. Not my favorite track, but still very good.

Now is the turn for "The Cathedral" a 19:33 minutes epic that starts with a religious church organ section that is soon blends a dramatic chorus and Baroque Organ. The vocals are amazing in this case, the Medieval obscurantist atmosphere is perfectly achieved until suddenly everything explodes, the Hammond blends with guitars and drums to create a very symphonic Rock section during which Pär Lind has the chance to play with all kind of keyboards and create very complex musical sections.

After a while gets softer with Björn Johansson playing his classical guitar mixed with Anna's flute and the vocals to create a spiritual atmosphere that is empathized by the harp, but again out of nowhere a very heavy section a la ELP starts to make a new change and a very psychedelic guitar by Jonas Endgegård completes the fusion of sounds. The track ends with another spectacular Church organ solo, 19:33 minutes of the best Progressive Rock you can get.

"Gunnlev's Run" is an early Medieval track with harpsichord where the incredible voice of Magdalena Hagsberg fuses completely with an outstanding chorus, you can feel the spirit of traveling troubadours, with some Baroque fugues,. Completely different to he previous, but one of my favorites, the only thing I lament is that it's so short.

"Night on the Bald Mountain" this Mussorgsky classic that has been partially recreated by several Prog musicians and bands, but IMO this is by far the best arrangement and performance I ever heard, the whole strength and drama is captured, the whole essence is present without being just a copy, it's much more, another highlight of the album, is a completely new but at the same time respectful version of this masterpiece, excellent is a poor word to describe it.

The rating is not a problem, less than 5 stars would be unfair, a terribly forgotten gem that should be in the top ten list of every site, it's not casual that "Gothic Impressions" was elected as one of the ten best Progressive albums of all time by the Argentinean Progressive Rock Society 1997, but they are not from UK and that's a sin hardly forgiven by some fans.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |


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