Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Erik Norlander

Seas of Orion

Review by Gary Hill

I have to say that I really like Erik Norlander. He is an incredibly talented musician, producer and songwriter. That said, even the best artist can have their projects that fall a bit flat. This is, unfortunately, that project for Norlander. I wouldn't say that this album is bad, but I just expect more from the man. Seas of Orion is an electronic album that is generally more new age than anything else. The truth of the matter is, an all-instrumental disc has to go a long way for me to appreciate it, but much of this is quite lackluster. In fact, the centerpiece track, "Adrift on the Fire Seas of Orion's Shield" weighs in at over 22 minutes in length and has very few changes, instead opting for waves of atmosphere as it's theme. Really, it would be good music to sleep to, but there aren't enough dynamic textures in the piece to warrant such an extended length. I would say that overall this is not a bad album, it just is not anywhere near the caliber that I have come to expect from Norlander. Well, here's looking forward to the next disc. Let's hope he moves back towards his roots, as he is one of the better practitioners of hard-edged prog rock there is.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Fanfare For Absent Friends
Ambient textures begin this, then drums enter, the textural waves carrying overtop. The cut carries on in this fashion for quite some time, simply ramping up the intensity a bit. Then a spacey sort of keyboard melody begins wafting about almost in the background. Eventually this moves to the forefront. After quite some time, the track bursts into a solid rock jam that feels a bit like a slightly more spacey take on the music of Asia. After playing through this for a while, a false ending gives way to a more energetic take on the same jam. It drops to a military sounding beat for a time, then as it comes back out of that a talk box type solo takes it into new directions, and the keys begin to duel with this sound. Then a jam that leaves you wanting more takes the cut to its closing crescendo.
City of Living Machines
Keys start this one out, and they begin building in patterns, percussion occasionally accenting it until it begins to take on a sound that feels a bit like a more energized Kraftwerk. The keys weave over top, creating a new melody and direction as they move forward. This takes on a rather jazzy element at times. The keyboard solo on it feels a lot like Rick Wakeman, at least in texture. It drops to more atmospheric modes, then the Kraftwerk like stylings come back.
New Gotham Prime
Beginning with percussion, as the keys enter this becomes a bouncy jam, energetic and almost funky. As this introductory segment ends, the keys bring in a more triumphant melodic segment for a time, and the piece is reworked, alternating between the two sections. It has fusionish elements at times as it carries on. At other moments this feels both tribal and techno. It has the most solidly percussive structure of any track on the CD, and a killer prog jam later makes this standout as the best composition of the disc.
Adrift on the Fire Seas of Orion's Shield
Wind sounds begin this, then keys enter, the number feeling at first like one of the mellower sections of Hawkwind's Hall Of The Mountain Grill disc. This one builds very slowly and gradually in spacey textures. It's not especially dynamic, but rather quite atmospheric. At over 20 minutes in length it goes on much too long for serious listening, but might be good for relaxation music.
Oasis in Stasis
While a break from the more mellow ambient tones would have been good at this time, this one doesn't provide it. It's a bit more energetic and potent than the last track, and does actually build, though. This one is quite solid, but would have benefited from being placed elsewhere on the CD.
Opera Sauvage: Hymne
At first this feels like a Celtic take on "The First Noel". As it carries on, the Celtic textures go away, but the cut remains in the same musical themes. This is a short one.


You'll find extra content from this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
More CD Reviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Progressive Rock

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./