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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Erik Norlander

The Galactic Collective

Review by Gary Hill

With this release Erik Norlander has revisited different pieces of music that he recorded with Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane and more. The music here is all instrumental, and perhaps the closest comparison would be Tangerine Dream. That said, you are sure to hear other references throughout various sections of the album. It’s a good disc, but for a reviewer like myself who has to focus on the variances between the tracks, it’s a bit too similar. That said, you probably won’t find yourself feeling like you are listening to one long song. It never seems really redundant or boring.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Arrival

As the title suggests, this is an introductory piece. It starts with a sound that makes me think of the theme song to Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it grows out from there. It’s a multi-layered keyboard solo that’s pretty, dramatic and majestic. It leads us straight into the next cut.

Neurosaur

With non-lyrical vocals and a very opera meets dramatic rock sound, the intro brings a majesty and power to the table. From there this launches out into an almost metallic jam that combines elements of Emerson, Lake and Palmer with Deep Purple and Dream Theater. Some of the keyboard work makes me think of Rick Wakeman. It’s a killer instrumental track and drops back to a mellower motif mid-song and gets quite jazz-like in the process. There is some tasty piano work on display. We’re taken through a number of changes and alterations as this continues. It’s quite a dynamic and tasty piece of music. Yet, everything is packed into a concise five minute span.

Fanfare
This is another interesting instrumental. The first portion is similar to “Arrival” in that it’s a keyboard dominated movement. It powers out into a real rocker that makes me think of ELP (but not Emerson Lake and Palmer, but rather Emerson Lake and Powell). This works through several changes and alterations and is quite intriguing. There is a bit of an old TV theme song in this cut. A crescendo takes it into the next piece.
Sky Full of Stars
Keyboards lead us out here, coming up from the textural music that ended the last number. The music here rocks out quite well and seems to combine Pink Floyd elements with the same type of sound we heard in the last number. Keyboards take over again at the end. It’s another instrumental. 
Astrology Prelude
As you might guess by the title, this is an introductory type of instrumental piece. It starts as a keyboard solo, but then pounds out into harder rock territory after a while. The comparisons to Emerson Lake and Powell are again valid. There are some great musical moments. I particularly like the staccato section. We get some sections that make me think of Yes, but this also takes us into some nearly metallic territory, too. 
Trantor Station
A pounding sort of industrial type of keyboard element opens this and other elements join tentatively. The cut builds out into another triumphant sounding prog rocker from there. A number of changes and alterations take us on an intriguing ride. 
After The Revolution
Piano starts this off in a pretty and poignant way and the cut builds from there. It works through a number of different sections and I can swear at points it makes me think of a progressive rock take on The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” This is one of the longer and more dynamic pieces on show. It also has some vocals, even if they are non-lyrical ones. An extremely powerful piece of music, this might be my favorite here. It runs the gamut from mellow to hard rocking and we even get some sounds that call to mind Pink Floyd at times. 
Garden of the Moon
Parts of this call to mind ELP and others make me think of Dream Theater. It’s another killer instrumental piece and the staccato section reminds me of ELO’s “Fire on High.” They drop it way down to an extremely mellow interlude. It fires back out from there in one of the hardest rocking sections of the cut. 
Dreamcurrents
A classical piano solo opens this and it modulates out from there. It maintains a keyboard solo approach, but works through several flavors and styles. It reminds me a lot of some of the music from the first part of Rick Wakeman’s solo career. That’s not to say it’s the only thing I hear, but it’s a big part of it. Other instruments do join around the 3 and a half minute mark and moves us into a more ELP or at least more “rock” music direction.
The Dark Water
This is a massive piece, weighing in at almost twenty minutes in length. It comes in with just keyboards and grows gradually out from there. They fire out after a time into a seriously hard rocking jam. This has elements that call to mind Dream Theater, but others that make me think of Deep Purple and still other aspects similar to ELP. This comes close to metal territory at times. It works through a lot of changes and moods and modes, but retains a definite cohesiveness. It’s one of the stronger cuts on show here.

 

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