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Pontus H.W. Gunve

Black Hole BBQ

Review by Gary Hill

You just can't go wrong with Pontus Gunve. His instrumental music always encompasses things ranging from pure progressive rock to fusion and more. This new set has some space rock and some classical music in the mix, too. It's hard to pick a favorite from an artist as consistent as Gunve, but this might just be his best album to date. It would make a great introduction to his music, while also serving as an important and vital addition to the catalog for long-time fans.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Black Hole BBQ: Shelagh's Quest
As this rises up gradually, it is decidedly space based. The music takes on some real science fiction like textures. Around the minute-mark it shifts to more pure rocking zones with a decidedly world music styled texture to it. This works out to some particularly powerful instrumental prog. Fusion, world music and more manages to swirl around the arrangement, often working together. There are even hints of classical music built into this beast. A more pure symphonic prog arrangement takes over further down the road, really dropping back toward pure classical music at times. It works back out to more rocking before a crescendo gives way to a percussive movement. Classical strings come over the top of that. An insistent, driving rock intensity moves this onward from that point. Then it explodes out to some seriously hard rocking stuff as it evolves. We're taken into a mellower, spacey movement for a short time at the end. This cut is more than 12-and-a-half minutes long, and they make good use of the space that affords them.
March of Mysceria
This pounds in crunchy and energized. It's a real driving powerhouse of hard rock. While this isn't as dynamic as the previous one, it makes up for that with some fierce intensity. The musicianship, as always, is impeccable. It drops down for a classical string solo later in the track, but powers up into some seriously energized hard rock from there.
Sukhothai: Dawn of Happiness
Melodic fusion, progressive rock and more merge on this piece. There is a sense of reaching and climbing in the mix of this piece. The guitar work  on this is so hot, too. Then again, you can say that of the whole album. This has some seriously intense jamming built into it. I percussive section with some atmospherics serves as the closing movement.
Exotic Matter
Coming out of the previous piece, the percussion and space sounds remain. Neo-classical elements emerge as it moves onward. Symphonic strings are a driving point. This becomes a real powerhouse rocker as it drives forward.
Infinity Plus One
The fusion textures that bring this into being have an almost tentative nature to them. The cut starts to grow outward from there in a decidedly progressive rock way. This is another dynamic and powerful number.  
Polar Vortex
There are some atmospherics at the start of this along with some cool percussion. The track works forward in this vein and begins to evolve with style. Then it shifts to a more rocking zone, but only marginally. It is very classical in nature in a lot of ways. It shifts to some seriously metallic zones as it approaches the two-minute mark. It's a real powerhouse during this section. That reaches an end, and we're brought into mellow zones that merge fusion and classical textures. A guitar solo eventually rises up over the top of that arrangement.  The metal zones return after a time, driving this forward. It drops back here and there for some percussive interludes as this section continues to hold the track.           
For Jules
There is a bit of a blues rock vibe to this in some ways. The prog and fusion tendencies remain dancing all over this thing, though.
Telus Mater
As this drives outward and upward, it reminds me a bit of a more symphonic "One of These Days" from Pink Floyd. The cut evolves and works onward in style with more of a symphonic fusion sound taking the driver's seat. Around the three-minute mark it shifts to more driving hard rock. The cut continues to explore the sonic space from there, working through some intriguing variants as it does so. The song continues to shift and change, getting into some powerhouse neo-classical meets metal zones for a time. Then it drops way down for a mellow and old-world based world music excursion. It powers upward from there as it continues. The number eventually works out to more melodic fusion that eventually takes the album to its closing.
 
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