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Pymlico - Meeting Point CD (album) cover

MEETING POINT

Pymlico

 

Crossover Prog

3.62 | 27 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Norway's Pymlico is quickly becoming one of my very favorite prog bands, a stream of inspired and delirious releases had me fixated and now on the heels of the masterful "Guiding Light" released in 2014, these intense instrumentalists have come up with another corker in "Meeting Point" and I am insatiably enthralled. Led by the prodigiously propulsive drumming of Arild Broter, the band has the chops to not need any vocalist as the music has hyper-cinematographic tendencies that are pure bliss, at least to these ears. Brother Oyvind Broter sparkles on all forms of keyboards, ornate on piano but preferring blazing synthesizers while guitarist Stephan Hvinden is a muscular fret meister who can shred, weave and explode when counted upon. The low-end is held strongly by Axel Toreg Reite's melodic bass lines, egging Arild into a rhythmic tandem that is sure to inspire many fans. Just listening to the bass guitar is a substantial treat in itself. The presence of judiciously placed saxophone has always been a Pymlico trademark and on this album, it is well seasoned by Marie Faerevaag.

The musical recipe has not changed, just a heightened sense of sharpness and confidence in their burgeoning craft as witnessed by the opening bruiser, the turbulent "Crab Key", a highway star of instrumental overdrive, muscular and athletic. While the mood is definitely fast and furious, there is plenty of calmer moments, even the intro is jazzy sedate. Urban cinema in sonic terms, darker streets with glowing icicles, meandering tweets and a smirky attitude. The lead guitar screeches kindly, still Arild impelling it all, with his forceful beat. Pymlico has a little Roxy Music in them, most evident when the sax evokes Andy Mackay, short, sweet and perfect. Marie does it great justice.

"Second Rate Punk" sounds just like the title, a brawny rocker with some funky bass and brash brass action, all cocky and headstrong until it suddenly morphs into a shining guitar rant, very Gilmourian , and then the two styles combine for a raunchy yet atmospheric orbit around the sun. A funny title because the band look more like a punk band anyway but play like master proggers. The brass section gives this a sensationalist aura that exudes freedom to roam and the choppy rhythms are all in fun, so the adventure maintains its creative course.

Reverting to opaquer themes, "Broken Glass" occurs with a gentle and ambient entrance, electronic in spirit and wildly entrancing. The plonking bass chugs along compellingly, a truly fantastic player, carrying the load and elevating the light on a sublime solo from guitarist Hvinden, sparkling brightly and smashing a few windows in the process. The overall feeling is similar to a more muscular Patrick O'Hearn release circa "Metaphor" and a stellar slice on this magnificent album.

Liquid pearls of acoustic guitar from Mattias K. Nielsen ushers in "Iris", a spectral tapestry of sheer beauty, once again shepherded by Axel Reite's thunderous bass, choral voices howling away. It's short but a thrilling electric guitar solo from guest Torbjorn Raae is only followed up by a sizzling sax solo. Power jazz at its finest.. Another stirring piece is "First Light", a piano etude of desirable serenity to start, romantic and melancholic, leads into a more vaporous realm, outright symphonic a la Wakeman (best vintage). This could easily have developed into an epic piece, by stretching out the glorious theme at the end.

Contrasts within instrumental prog is what the fans want, the collision between the rock element and the extraordinary compositional ability that prog requires, found in large doses in classical music as well as jazz. Actually, pillars! "NOL 861613060" carves nastily, as once again the mighty bass rushes the barricades. "Lucy Does not approve" (Ball? Ferry's ex-wife? The slick movie with Scarlett Johansson? The Australopithecus? Which Lucy would that be, now?), well it does have a few Roxy hints, the forsaken sax notwithstanding, a mellow yet glittering pool of light and occasional shade, twinkling electronic keyboards and lots of fizzy mood. Ambient jazzy intonations, rolling organ flurries, swerving bass and effects all contribute to the silver screen audio.

The album ends with "Erised" (Desire, backwards) , a nearly 9 minute extravaganza, a thrilling slice of modern music, that darn sax doing a lot of damage, giving the highly visual music so much warmth. Arild surely heard the amazing Paul Thompson play, because the relentless pulse is always present. Slinky guitar phrasings that are beyond clever, slowly weaving a tight funnel of atmospheric splendor, this becomes quite an epic piece that ultimately sums up the Pymlico sound. A sudden and unexpected switch is turned on, and the piece goes into a different realm altogether, the sax taking over the pinging synths. The electric guitar then unleashes the main theme, a simple but emotive burst of faith and yearning. Grandiose and expansive, a perfect finale.

I cannot help but to come to the conclusion that Pymlico seduces me soundly because of some, what are now obvious, intonations and stylistic references to the Roxy legacy. I am proud to be a devoted Roxy Music fan since day one, and I see the similarities. Traditional yet futuristic, classy but raw. Pymlico has taken the prog community to newer heights. Definitely my kind of music .

4.5 Summit arguments

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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