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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Erik Norlander

Into the Sunset

Review by Gary Hill

This solo release from Rocket Scientist Erik Norlander is a very strong CD. He enlists the aid of quite a few of his friends to pull the disc together, and the result a very solid prog CD with some metallic elements.

The musicians joining Norlander are Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Tony Franklin, Greg Ellis, Cameron Stone, Glenn Hughes, Lana Lane, Edward Reekers, Robert Soeterboek and Mark McCrite.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sunset Prelude
A brief effects type keyboard intro gives way to a dramatic hard edged prog segment. After a time, the cut transforms to a movement based on hard edged guitar riffing. It then drops in tempo and a keyboard solo with great textures ensues. Next, the composition shifts gear several times in rapid faston moving in various hard prog directions before ending.
Into The Sunset
With an almost martial drum beat to start, bass brings the cut to its next phase. Then as the other instruments join, the mode is of a hard edged prog, rather DTish. As the intro ends, the format drops to a mellower segment for the verse. The intensity again climbs for the chorus and a short instrumental break afterwards, then drops back down as a repeating pattern develops. After the second chorus, keyboards take the cut in a great flowing patter that heralds a very tasty instrumental break. The cut then reverts to its earlier patterns for the final verse. Wind sounds run this track and the next together.
Rome Is Burning
A great hard edged prog style starts this cut. It suddenly shifts to a rather stripped down metallic pattern for a short time, then the prog elements take control. As the verse enters, the cut seems to resemble Deep Purple, and the chorus does not change that feeling. Of course, the vocals of Glenn Hughes definitely contribute to that sound. The track winds in to a slower bluesy section that is quite tasty. Next a great prog instrumental section ensues. This one covers a lot of musical territory, building on both themes already established and new ones. The cut reverts to the Purpleish mode after a time for the verse and chorus.
Fanfare For the Dragon Isle
This is a brief and very dramatic instrumental with a militaristic sort of texture.
Fly
Hard edged prog tones begin this cut in fine style. Then the mode seems to shift out to a very metallic sort of jam. It then drops back to a killer slower, more melodic segment. After a verse, hard edged prog elements again take the piece. Then, much later, the cut again drops in intensity, this time to a killer piano solo. It begins building up from there after a time, becoming a wonderful instrumental passage that really rocks. After this section, the earlier modes return for the next set of vocals.
Dreamcurrents
Another instrumental, this one starts with beautiful and intricate piano work. As it continues other keyboard textures join in for accompaniment and the composition begins to grow. The modes and styles alternate from playful to beautiful to dramatic, but much of the piece has a flavor a bit like something one would expect to find on a Rick Wakman solo album. This is very strong and it really covers a lot of musical and emotional peaks and valleys in a short span of time.
Lines in the Sand
Starting in a hard edged vein, this one comes across more as prog metal. The instrumental break features an awesome keyboard solo.
On The Wings of Ghosts
Dramatic and mysterious keyboard tones and percussion begns this one quite well. Piano, like a voice out of the darkness takes command. Then the other instruments join in dramatic and powerful modes. Next a flowing series of stylistic changes ensue in fairly rapid fire succession. This is definitely enough to keep the listener on his or her toes. The piece then drops to a more balladic sort of mode that begins to build in intensity. The composition continues by alternating between these elements for a time, then it moves into fresh hard edged instrumental territory, then off to a killer keyboard excursion. The next change is back into the verse mode. The cut eventually drops to an evocative slower more thoughtful segment to take the track to its conclusion.
Hymn
Mysterious and atmospheric tones start the cut and Lana Lane’s vocal soar like an angel. This short song runs straight into the next cut through a great sounding keyboard modulation.
Into the Sunset Reprise
Based on themes from “Into the Sunset”, this is a brief reminder of that cut. It runs straight into “Sunset Postlude”.
Sunset Postlude
A fast paced and hard edged brief prog instrumental, this one is quite dramatic and strong.
Alchemy and Astronomy (Bonus Track)
Great mellow tones begin this one. The piece begins a slow build from there, getting quite jazzy for a time and perhaps a bit Floydish. It shifts into a dramatic keyboard dominated segment, then almost 5 1/2 minutes in, to the segment that will serve as the backdrop for the first vocals. With a fairly accessible vocal line, the tune builds in melodic progressions. A dramatic segment ensues after the verse, rather pensive in format. It then rushes out almost like a cup overflowing to increase in intensity. Then the song moves back to the verse segment. As the verse ends, it is in high dramatic style, and the instrumental mode seems to be pregnant with anticipation of going somewhere. That somewhere, rather than an explosion of instrumental fury, is a journey of complex textures and growing movements. This instrumental section keeps redefining itself. It eventually drops to a mellow, almost neo-classical mode for a time, then resolves out into another Pink Floyd influenced movement that ends this epic.
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