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Navigator - Phantom Ships CD (album) cover

PHANTOM SHIPS

Navigator

 

Neo-Prog

3.92 | 70 ratings

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Windhawk
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US band NAVIGATOR was formed back in 1998, and released their debut album 4 years later, with a second studio production following in 2006. Following this the band had a longer spell of inactivity as a recording unit, but following an 8 year long hiatus from such ventures they returned with their third full length studio production, "Phantom Ships", which was released towards the end of 2014.

It doesn't take all that long to decide which context to place this band in, at least as they appear in 2014. Opening epic length creation Life doesn't use all that long to present us with sounds, moods and atmospheres that reminds perhaps more than a little bit of classic 80's era Marillion, and while they don't hone in and focus on that particular sound throughout the material remains accessible, compelling and melodic throughout the album. Initially with something of a typical neo-progressive vibe to it, but also with gentler details reminding of bands like Camel and some spirited keyboard maneuvers that at least for me makes me think of late 70's and early 80's Eloy. Third track Burned is a tighter, harder edged excursion into those realms, with a classic and compelling guitar riff and organ combination leading the way, in this case with less of a direct comparison at hand in terms of references for me, and the following instrumental Beautiful River is another somewhat harder for me to give a direct reference on to any specific band. This latter also comes across as a creation that, at least to some extent, heralds a change on this production as a whole.

The second half of this CD, starting with Now That You're Gone, presents us with a band that appears to know their way around the various phases of progressive rock giants Genesis. In three compositions they explore quite nicely some of the typical moods and atmospheres fans of Genesis will find to be intimately familiar, albeit void of the complexities and more focused on staying compelling and accessible. The epic length title track Phantom Ships also includes sections sporting more intricate keyboard arrangements however, of a kind an nature that should please also the more dedicated fans of old school symphonic progressive rock. This latter crowd should, presumably, also appreciate the inclusion of a nifty, dramatic classical symphonic orchestra interlude around the halfway stage of this creation. Final song Rinascimento isn't quite as striking, a dual acoustic guitar piece, calm and well controlled, but it functions quite nicely as a relaxing lead-out marking the end of the journey we have partaken.

Those fond of accessible, melodic progressive rock should have a field day with this album. Perhaps not a production that will be heralded for it's novel take on progressive rock, nor one that will be chosen as an example of a band treading new ground or breaking genre conventions, but if solid, quality compelling progressive rock in the manner of bands such as Fish-era Marillion, IQ and Pendragon is what you're looking for, Navigator will provide you with just that on this album.

Windhawk | 4/5 |

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