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Brother Ape - Shangri-La CD (album) cover

SHANGRI-LA

Brother Ape

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.82 | 35 ratings

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Federico95
5 stars During the new millennium, Sweden was consecrated as a prolific land for Progressive Rock fans, and some particuliarly loved acts such as Beardfish, Gungfly, Carptree, Agents of Mercy and Nightingale can show this. Brother Ape belong to this large array of bands: they formed in 1981, but they made their debut in 2005, with the great On the Other Side album, followed in 2006 by the object of this review, Shangri-La.

The trio, formed by Stefan Damicolas (guitar, vocals), Gunnar Maxen (bass, keyboards) and Max Bergman (drums), is author of a soft and catchy Prog Rock, clearly influenced by Camel and Genesis and characterized by energic rhythms and solar harmonies, enriched by the particular voice of Damicolas, who also makes a great figure as a guitarist; the fantastic opener "New Shangri-La" is there to show it, as it is a real blaze of sparkling and coloured melodies. There are some Jazz/Fusion digression, as you can notice by listening "Lunatic Kingdom", in which the trio makes foray in Methenian territories. The following track "Umbrella" is an acoustic ballad with a psychedelic flavour, while with "Inside You" Brother Ape travel on Hard Rock binaries, giving us a killer track thanks to triumphal melodies and an unforgettable refrain, that make this song one of the best on Shangri-La.

"Beams" and "Monasteries of Meteora" are two unusual tracks: the first one starts as a delicate composition full of mysterious and nocturnal atmospheres that hardens more and more until the final, while the second one is an instrumental episode with more intimist solutions, once again near to what Pat Metheny did in the '80s (Still Life/Letter from Home period).

"I'll Be Going" is a little masterpiece which thanks to its graceful and dreaming melodies brings the listener on a journey through pristine nature, in an explosion of warm and enveloping colors that draw unique and evocative landscapes. This quiet moment is destined to last very little, with the technique of the three musician which blasts in the acid Jazz of the short "Tweak Head", in which we have to signal the dynamic performance of the drummer Max Bergman. The calm is brought back again by a new, touching acoustic composition, "A Reason to Wake", in which the beautiful voice of Damicolas shines on an incredibly sweet web made of guitars and ethereal strings.

We are getting to the end of the album and the funky guitars of "Meatball Tour" have the job to bring some frenzy in the listener's ears, but once again this frenzy is suddenly damped by the marvellous ballad (with a Pink Floyd touch in it) "Timeless for Time Being", pearl of touching intensity filled with heavenly choruses and suggestive pompous keyboards, crowned by a guitar solo, whose value should be diminished by defining it as astounding. In the end there is the title track, revisitation in symphonic key of the themes of the opener "New Shangri-La".

Brother Ape with Shangri-La manage to create one of the most beautiful and well-played albums of the 2000s, a masterpiece that alternates exciting and light-hearted moments to more relaxed ones. A wonder to rediscover, by a way too underrated band.

Federico95 | 5/5 |

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