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Pymlico - Guiding Light CD (album) cover

GUIDING LIGHT

Pymlico

 

Crossover Prog

3.83 | 81 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I will not deceive anyone into thinking that I am an exclusive prog fan! Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry will always be my number 1 but I also deeply enjoy the John Foxx/Ultravox/Midge Ure style of cold sizzling electronica. Pymlico is a Norwegian prog band that combines progressive rock tendencies with a 'cool' sense of modernity, a synthesizer heaven with blazing melodies, thumping rhythmic drive and a clear and polished sound. Their 2 previous all-instrumental albums had a wondrous sense of adventure, the style that non-proggers would describe as 'video game music', a term perhaps meant to be only slightly derogatory but let's face it, it has helped sell an ocean liner load of games across the globe.

The spooky front cover does give one the creeps but its just an innocent tourist in a hoody, which may be lethal only in Miami, Florida, I guess. .But the music within the artwork is sensational, highly atmospheric (the way I like my prog) and extraordinarily balanced between accessible and detailed. Truth is the content is highly charged and emotional, due in no small part to that mesmerizing saxophone. I often asked myself why Dick Parry did not get more credit for exfoliating Pink Floyd's deep psychedelic jungle and blowing so many passionately incredible strains into the stratosphere!

Pymlico is the brainchild of Arild Broter, a drummer for heavy rock band Lucifer Was displays a great rhythmic mastery as well as composing some sparkling cinematographic pieces that simply go beyond the norm. His beat is solid, the bass wielded by Axel Reite carves in sync, a great tandem between the two. Brother Oyvind Broter shoots off some celestial synthesizer streaks, as well divine piano, organ and e-piano. There are also two guitarists to fill in the sound, both Mads Horn and Stephan Hvinden show great chops, tones and textures that span a great many styles.

"Guiding Light" is way more homogeneous and free-flowing than their two first albums , which were more piece-oriented, showing a greater attention to detail and placement, each track flowing nicely into the next thrilling chapter, with a plethora of comfort moments , either a sharp chorus , a sizzling melody , often both within the same track. Needless to restate the playing is absolutely spot-on, a major prerequisite for instrumental-only prog. On "The Sounds of The City", the listener is rattled by the main synthesized air, the choppy rhythmic convulsions, the threatening guitars and finally, the manner in which they all blend harmoniously. Damn good modern prog!

The glorious saxophone takes center stage on "The East Side", conjuring all kinds of urban images of twilight party goers, fumbling for their Audi keys, while the stiletto-heeled vixen adjusts her mascara. Yeah, the music is both sensual, misty, gritty and yet still energized. Pymlico also enjoys venturing into more modernistic zones, infusing Middle Eastern motifs into moody electronic puddles of sound, bolstered by mammoth drum patterns and hypnotic improvisations, as best showcased on the tempestuous "Wanderlust".

They are unafraid of complexity when called upon, as they display acrobatic chops on the fiercely named "Bobcat", a wild adventure full of feline grace, intricate attitude that borders hard-jazz and also some serious grace under pressure, as exemplified by the sublime e-piano sheen that evokes sultry images of fantasy. The main theme is immediate, in contrast to the rather dislocated intro, a perfect example of their genial compositional craft.

Being a bass fanatic, I fell to my knees in abject surrender upon hearing the four-string line played by Axel Reite on the highlight track "Piz Gloria", a cannonading assault on the senses, only made more compelling by the masterful keys , a swirling overhead synth in particular, that will just leave you gaga. The main benefit of instrumental prog is that you need no lyrics or voice to guide you towards your own interpretation of the notes being played and you can thus create your own little world of musical fantasy.

The majestic 13 minute+ "Neptune" ends this loving affair on a high note, and what better instrument to supply this 'high' note than that bitchy sax, here partnered by a lyrical guitar rant. Being such a Roxy fan, I am always under the spell of Andy Mackay's sax and oboe and I now realize why I am so enamored with this style of music, as it's like a combination of vocal-less Pink Floyd and Roxy Music. It should therefore come to no surprise that Gilmour and Manzanera have been loyal friends and partners for the past 20 years or so. Both fret maestros Horn and Hvinden are inspired to emulate their idols and to shatter the speakers with dueling axe explorations that defy explanations. The urgency picks up half way through and one has no choice but to succumb to the sublime delivery and the unending creativity displayed!

As it stands, "Guiding Light" just might wind up among the very best 2014 albums, a compelling instrumental masterpiece of the highest order. I haven't heard 'The Endless River" yet (it's on order) but it better be good coz these Norsemen have made one hell of a torrent. This is my kind of very 'saxy' prog!

5 Recon Luminosities

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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