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Nektar

Time Machine

Review by Gary Hill

There were three new albums this time that disappointed me a bit. This is one of them. Now, that said, this isn’t a bad disc. In fact, it’s a great disc. I just expected something a little more special from Nektar. There are some moments here that are amazing, but there are also some songs that seem like just about any band could have done the songs. The Nektar magic just seems missing at a couple places. Of course, even without the magic, Nektar is pretty great. So, while I was hoping for an album that would stack up amongst the best of the year, I think this misses that mark. It’s still a considerably strong album, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Better Way

Effects and a creepy phone call opens this up. Then it powers out into one of the most powerful progressive rock jams I’ve heard in a while. As the staccato section enters as a transition, it’s trademark Nektar. This cut continues to expand and grow in that same classic way. It’s a great ride. There’s sort of a false ending here. Then acoustic guitar rises up from there. It grows beyond that point.  A spoken vocal bit is heard over the top of this as the music seems to move forward gradually. Eventually it shifts out to a more energized jam with the sung vocals coming over the top.

Set Me Free, Amigo
There are hints of Mexican music in the mix on this tune. Somehow it feels a bit like Nektar does Jimmy Buffett to me. Somehow this one is just sort of OK in my book. If there’s a track to skip here, this is it. That said, the faster more proggy jam later does manage to redeem the track a bit. It’s still a bit too cheesy and mainstream, though.
Destiny

Now, this is more like it. It’s a fairly slow moving and mellow tune. Still, the tones of this piece are dramatic and powerful. This is a fairly lush song. There is a magical sense to it. It doesn’t really go very far, though.

If Only I Could
Some melodic progressive rock starts this in a mellow fashion. Then it explodes out from there. A faster paced tune with more real prog was needed after the last couple songs and Nektar delivered. That said, it’s not a straight line. After a time it drops down to a mellower jam with some guitar soloing in an understated arrangement. They build it out a bit when the vocals join. The harder rocking prog returns for the chorus. This is quite a ride as they take us through a number of shifts and changes. The soaring instrumental section later in the tune is classic. In fact, the whole track is really classic Nektar. It’s extensive and works through a lot of shifts and changes.
Time Machine
The title track is another fairly massive and expansive progressive rock jam. The chorus hook is pretty accessible. Overall, this track is one of the strongest here. While it’s got plenty of change and variation, somehow it’s very catchy and cohesive.
Tranquility

Now, this is a real gem. It has some moments that feel like they could have been lifted from the Remember the Future album. It’s arguably the best tune here.

Mocking the Moon

Fairly mellow and melodic, this is a mainstream song. It’s not bad, but a little lackluster. It doesn’t really stand out. For many bands this would be a great song. For Nektar it’s just kind of pedestrian.

Talk to Me

This is another melodic tune. It’s pretty and perhaps a bit more proggy than the last one. The problem is, there’s sort of a monolithic element that’s permeated the album by this point. Most of the stuff is in about the same volume level and at about the same tempo. That makes it all start to blend together. That’s a detriment to any of these pieces really standing out. That said, there is a bit of 1950s vibe to this in some minor ways that manages to keep it from being completely forgotten.

Juggernaut

Now, this is definitely an improvement. It’s not that far different in terms of volume level or tempo, but it’s more of a fusion based instrumental. It’s quite a cool ride.

Diamond Eyes

This one rocks out more and that’s a much needed improvement. It’s another with some hints of the classic era of Nektar. This is quite an extensive piece of music. It is also quite a diverse one. It has some particularly catchy vocal hooks, but it also has some especially powerful musical passages. The instrumental section near the end is quite noteworthy.

 
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