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(41:41, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Particle Dance 3:42 2. Black Hole 4:54 3. Cognitive Dissonance 4:44 4. London Vibe 2:21 5. Avatar Jones 6:03 6. Erdinger 5:00 7. Martian Sunrise 5:25 8. State of Siege 2:32 9. October Skies 5:48 10. Particle Coda 1:12 LINEUP: Peter Matuchniak – guitars Rick Meadows – bass Alan Smith – drums; vocals Vance Gloster – keyboards; vocals
Prolusion. The US based quartet GEKKO PROJEKT is a recent formation sporting members that all bring with them skills developed through several decades as active musicians in various bands and styles, but all of them with a special passion for progressive rock. "Electric Forest" is their debut album, and was released by Progrock Records in 2012.
Analysis. It's funny how some albums bring with them associations that hit you straight away and turn out to be logical when looking up the band history. In this case I was slightly baffled by what appeared to be a myriad of minor details taken from a wide variety of music, both inside and outside of the art rock realm, which gave me the association that this was a newly formed band made up by experienced hands that had been actively exploring several different styles on their individual journeys – when looking at the band history that is of course rather logical and self-explanatory, but I still think this facet of the production merits a description of its own. There are quite a few listeners not accustomed to encountering a band that really does break down the genre barriers after all, at least in the manner that Gekko Projekt does. In 10 compositions lasting 40 minutes or thereabouts we're provided with many elongated sequences sporting longing guitar solos backed by a gentle symphonic backdrop in a manner that will interest many dedicated neo progressive fans, and guitarist Matuchniak does to some extent follow in the footsteps of Steve Hackett, although staying mostly put within the atmospheric laden part of his repertoire. But jazz-tinged, spirited excursions with energetic keyboard soloing closer in expression to 70's Camel are just as much a part of the proceedings, adding a vintage flair to this disc. And then there's what for some might be experiences as the odd little detail, bass-driven passages that to my ears at least are closer in expression to what a band like Allman Brothers made a career out of: a touch of southern, blues based rock. And on a few occasions a name like Tom Petty popped up as an association too, first and foremost on Black Hole. But the heart of this disc does reside within the art rock realm, and the majority of the themes and parts taken on too. The outside influences, as seen from an art rock perspective, will probably be something of an acquired taste for some, but it does make for an album that has a touch of the unique to it compositionally. Not original as such, but a mix of styles I'd describe as rather uncommon. And while I didn't find this band to be able to reach any stellar heights of purebred magical excursions on this occasion, there's quite a few intriguing pieces to enjoy, the second half of the disc the most interesting one in that respect as I experienced it.
Conclusion. If you have a fairly liberal taste in music, enjoy compositions of an accessible nature and like bands like Allman Brothers just as much as Camel and Pendragon, Gekko Projekt's "Electric Forest" should come across as a fairly interesting production – how interesting a matter of taste, as performance and production are of good quality. A promising debut album by an experienced quartet.
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