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(60:32, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Mind Machine 10:50 2. Thieves 9:04 3. Youre Alive 4:24 4. One Tragedy at a Time 14:00 5. Im Not Blind 6:16 6. Easy Tomorrow 6:30 7. Haze 9:28 LINEUP: Kurdt Vanderhoof guitars; Mellotron, organ, synthesizers, electric pianos Ryan McPherson organ, piano, synthesizers; lead & backing vocals Scott Albright lead vocals; acoustic guitar Izzy Rehaume bass, backing vocals Bill Raymond drums, percussion
Prolusion. The US outfit PRESTO BALLET was one of the major surprises in 2005 with their debut album "Peace among the Ruins". Not due to the musical style, 70s style progressive rock with heavy guitars and loads of vintage keyboards, but because this was an outfit initiated by Kurdt Vanderhoof - until then best known for his long lasting metal outfit Metal Church. And it was an album well received by critics and buyers alike and was regarded as a fine example of music not really innovative but solid in terms of craftsmanship in both writing and performance. "The Lost Art of Time Travel" is the sophomore effort by this act, released in 2008 by their native label Progrock Records.
Analysis. Musically this is a production that yields few surprises. Vintage keyboards, including Hammond organ, and guitars are the dominant instruments, and the compositions contain elements that will be familiar to fans of acts like Yes, Genesis, Kansas and Uriah Heep, to name some of the most prominent influences for this creation. The end result does sound somewhat similar to The Flower Kings in places, albeit heavier and with darker moods, as well as somewhat more adventurous in terms of the musical scope covered. The guitars are an important aspect to all seven of the tracks here and as the individual compositions visit many different sounding musical landscapes as a general rule, there's a great deal of variety to the musical expressions by this instrument as well. Gentle, acoustic guitar patterns pop up just as frequently as grittier, heavy riff patterns, and quite often we're treated to dual layers of guitars in the lush and mellow segments as well as in the heavier escapades. There's one side of the guitar that doesn't show up too often though, which is the typical guitar solo. In most instances when it appears it is placed back in the mix: present, but rarely as a dominating feature. It's not that unheard of in this style of music, but slightly surprising when taking into account the background of the band leader in this case. Just as important as the guitars, or perhaps even more so, are the various keyboards used. Vanderhood opts for the use of vintage instruments and those who have a deep fascination for Moogs, Mellotrons and the Hammond organ will treasure this production. There's hardly a segment without at least one keyboard layer present, and quite often multiple layers from the different varieties of tangents used will be in the arrangement. Textures and details are served on a constant basis, heavy and majestic segments formed, often with the Hammond and guitar creating these in carefully crafted performances, and free-flowing soloing with a positive vibe is a feature as well as darker and more ominous sounding bits. Vocalist Albright has a powerful voice that suits the music very well and is skilled in regulating his expressions to suit whatever mood is explored at the time. Perhaps not the best vocalist around in terms of range, but among the better I've encountered in terms of control and delivery. The bass guitar and drums serve up some crafty details at times too; nothing spectacular but some detailed and slightly quirky drum patterns when needed and minor details added now and then to add minor varieties to the songs, and much the same can be said about the bass guitar. Nothing spectacular but solid through and through, adding the extra bit and details when needed. As albums go, this one doesn't contain many innovative elements from a musical perspective. The compositions do evolve in some unexpected manners at times, but the music as such stays within predictable parameters. Vanderhoof is a more than able composer and the strengths of this act are high quality compositions and solid performances.
Conclusion. Presto Ballet is not an act that will interest those searching for music progressive in the true meaning of the word. However, for those who enjoy their progressive rock as it sounded in the 70's and are looking for an album with generally high class compositions as well as performances, this one should meet those requirements. This has solid craftsmanship throughout and is a treat for those on the lookout for music in a similar vein as the one most popular in the golden age of progressive rock.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 3, 2009
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