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Magic Pie - Motions of Desire CD (album) cover


Magic Pie


Symphonic Prog

3.84 | 290 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars For anyone old enough to recall Progressive Rock's Golden Age, the opening moments of Magic Pie's year 2005 debut album will trigger a thrilling sense of déjà vu, like a time machine transplanted from the early 21st century to the summer of 1974.

"Change" is the name of that initial piece of the Pie: an epic twenty-minute slice of textbook Prog moods and emotions, obviously intended as the band's signature track, and rightfully so. But at a certain point along the roller coaster it becomes hard to avoid the suspicion that the song's title is a little misleading, and that every headlong 'change' in musical speed, style and direction is actually more contrived than natural.

The explicit aim of the new band was "to create progressive textures in the spirit of the '70s" (quoting the CD notes), which would seem to offer an invitation to rehash the old, ongoing Progressive vs. Prog debate. In this instance the Magic Piemakers followed their mandate to the letter, and with a concentrated focus bordering on tunnel vision.

That's the good news. The downside is that despite all the vintage Prog embellishments - rapid cycle time signatures; florid soloing; hyperbolic melodicism - there's a conservatism to their method at odds with their stated ideals. Unlike the band's pioneering role models, these guys aren't young kids trying to 'change' the world (there's that word again) through a revolutionary bridging of musical and cultural barriers. As seen in the portrait inside the CD booklet, this is a capable group of seasoned professionals, following a retrograde creative impulse: Mainstream Prog, in other words, which ought to be an oxymoron but too often isn't.

None of which diminishes the album's cosmetic pleasures, which are considerable. Ignoring the sometimes heavy-handed Neo Prog schmaltz of the title track (thankfully the shortest song here), and some occasional cod-reggae riffing in "Full Circle Poetry", you'll find a surplus of upbeat instrumental showmanship, presented with real skill, if not much subtlety.

But the group never succeeds in translating the homage into a style of their own. Hardly surprising, given their true source of inspiration: not the original progressive trailblazers from the 1970s, but modern copycat acts like THE FLOWER KINGS and SPOCK'S BEARD. You might never guess, from their Anglo-Symphonic sound and fluent English lyrics, that Magic Pie actually hail from northern Scandinavia.

The bottom line is 75-minutes of second-hand Prog Rock mimicry, twice removed from its musical taproot. But the silver lining, to listeners of a certain age, is that a false memory can sometimes shine almost as bright as the real thing.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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