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(43:00, 10t Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. We Pay the Price 4:44 2. The Sirens Call 4:27 3. Love for Sale 4:30 4. Illusion 4:56 5. Pull Me Under 4:27 6. No More Monkey Business 4:04 7. Reach Out 4:14 8. Heaven Above 4:19 9. What I Believe 3:59 10. Any Other Day 3:20 LINEUP: Carl Schultz – bass; keyboards; vocals Mike Cappadozy – guitars Dave Wayne – drums
Prolusion. The US trio ELF PROJECT isn't among the bands with the most visible internet presence, and information about their history prior to the release of their debut album "Mirage" in 2009 isn't what one might describe as readily available. "The Great Divide" is their second full length CD, and was released by the US label 10t Records.
Analysis. A few seconds into the opening track of this disc, I gather most listeners familiar with a certain Canadian band will draw some conclusions. The band in question is Rush, and the album I suspect most people will pull out as a point of reference is "Presto". And a few minor effects aside, the associations to this specific album stay put throughout most of this latest creation courtesy of the trio known as Elf Project. To those not familiar with the said band, we're dealing with material of a pretty straight forward nature, traditional songs based around a verse and chorus structure with an instrumental sequence at the halfway point or thereabouts. Bordering art rock territories by way of arrangement details and subtle structural details, but by and large this is material with at least one foot placed well inside a mainstream pop/rock universe. A distinct, driving bass guitar and steady, careful rhythms are the foundation throughout, with dampened riffs, acoustic guitars or plucked guitar licks catering for the key melodic effects. Dampened keyboards are an almost ever present feature way back in the arrangements, occasionally given a more dominant role in the instrumental passages, while the lead vocals are utilized just as much as a secondary melodic asset in itself, as it is used to convey the lyrical topic, generally light in tone and spirit, smooth in sound and performance. Those looking for the references to Rush’s trademark staccato guitar and drum displays will find them used to good effect by this band too, and on a few occasions darker sounding guitar riffs are given a part to play too. But generally speaking this is an album consisting of light toned, smooth and elegant pieces, arguably more at home on the Billboard chart than on the cover of a progressive rock fanzine. The Elf Project musicians are able enough songsmiths and performers to escape the realms of the anonymity however, and, apart from the country and slide guitar flavored final piece Any Other Day as well as the slightly too elongated song Illusion, this is a pleasant acquaintance. With The Sirens Call they have also constructed a number as alluring as the title indicates: a perfect piece of pop/rock oriented art rock. The sole instrumental at hand, No More Monkey Business, is another item worth given a special mention.
Conclusion. Art rock oriented pop/rock or vice versa is what Elf Project presents and explores on their second CD "The Great Divide". Not an album for those who crave music of a highly challenging nature, but those who have Rush's "Presto" on their list of personal favorites and would like to add music of a similar character to their collection should take the time to find out what Elf Project is all about. Chances are that this particular crowd will love it to bits.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 6, 2012
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