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Pymlico - Directions CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.96 | 42 ratings

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4 stars "Compliments of Sharkey" is, if I am not mistaken, a tribute to the exalted world of E.P. Jacobs, a Euro-cartoon icon, famed for his "Adventures of Blake and Mortimer" series. Sharkey was adjutant to Colonel Olrik, the nasty fiend and nemesis to both Francis Blake of SIS and Professor Philip Mortimer. If so, putting the exhilarating pseudo sci-fi anti-hero as a platform for some rollicking prog is quite an original twist, waltz or fandango. Fittingly the mood is pulsating, grandiose and epic, a Norwegian one-man instrumental show led by Arild Broter and some family and friends. Arild is a professional live drummer (Lucifer Was), so the beat is a non-worry issue. Fun beginnings but one would never expect a stellar follow-up track and the 14 minute + "Heroes" (referring again to Blake and Mortimer?) is as fabulous as instrumental prog can get, an expedition of monumental sound where everything fits superbly, gorgeous synthesizers painting the fjord-lit night sky, interweaving melodies and evocative arrangements that span the spectrum, from idyllic pastoral beauty where the flute section seems straight out of Hostsonaten's Springsongs, to more typical guitar-led symphonics that ignite images of mellow proggers Camel, David Minasian, The Inner Road, Odyssice and Trion. The term "beautiful" sums it up quite succinctly, the lead axe crying out in utter ecstasy, uniting with a long extended synth solo that parallels the main theme, massive and hot mellotron blasts are there in abject support. Another stellar track that is on my current playlist, the classic "Heroes" will provide the listener with many happy returns, as the low-end is well served with some amazing bass playing. Simply splendid piece of music.

How do you follow up with anything remotely listenable after such joyous perfection? Well "The Little Grey Cells" has a more menacing feel, a cinematic power prog piece with a heavy space-rock feel, led by a mammoth bass glide that sets the pace convincingly. The absolute unexpected killer bullet is the steamy and sensual sax solo with a sultry, sweaty and slightly perverse sound that will knock you for a loop! Okay, so how do you follow up that one?

Two 6 minute wonders then appear out of the fjord's mist, much to our listening pleasure. On "R.W." spooky sonar bleeps, fuzzy atmospherics and a diaphanous mood will certainly veer the mood, albeit only temporarily as the ornate piano slowly carves out a melancholic reverie. Dense, almost Floydian soundscapes enter the fray, yeah that big bluesy guitar wail we all know and love, giving some much desired angst to the flow. Its more aggressive companion "2280" is more pulsating, almost like highway driving music, with sashaying rhythmic guitar caresses, bubbly synths pinging and ponging out of sight, all served by a relentless bass and drum propeller. The electric lead screeches with tons of sustain and angry desperation amid an electronic bubble bath that Rick Wright would be drooling over, up there in VCS3 heaven!

'Directions' ends with the mammoth "Regulus", an 18 minute+ affair that should blow your mind, possessing initially a rather quirky James Bond-like cinematographic feel , which then develops into a more conventional symphonic piece with electronic slants, abundant raucous snippets, tons of start and stop techniques, playful experimentation, overt directional interludes that all sort of gel well together. The rowdy bass carves nicely its way through the joyous marimba phase, the sweeping synth passages, the drenched organ sections and whatever else Aril throws in its path, be it steamy sax fury, vaporous space fluttering or dissonant insanity.

Broter has a good handle of creating memorable melodies, a necessary prerequisite for first-rate instrumental music, unless of course one is a fan of minimalistic drone electronica or RIO/Avant-garde sonic dysfunction. Fine addition to any prog collection, especially the fans looking for something off the beaten path.

4.5 Norse Weathervanes

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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