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Pymlico - 2014 - "Guiding Light"

(50:42, ‘Spider House’)


1.  A Day Out 3:52
2.  Sounds of the City 6:43
3.  The East Side 7:47
4.  Wanderlust 5:40
5.  Bobcat 6:28
6.  Piz Gloria 6:24
7.  Neptune 13:48


Arild Broter – drums; keyboards; guitars
Oyvind Broter – keyboards 
Axel Toreg Reite – bass 
Ivan Mazuze – saxophone 
Mattias Krohn Nilsen – guitars 
Even Kruse Skatrud – trombone 
Larry Salzman – percussion; flute
Vilde Badendyck Katralen – voices 
Einar Naess Haugseth – keyboards 
Three more guitarists and two more pianists

Prolusion. The Norwegian project PYMLICO is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Arild Broter, which started out back in 2009 and with the initial album released two years later. So far Bruter has recorded three studio albums under this moniker. "Guiding Light" is the most recent of these, and was released through his own label Spider House in 2014.

Analysis. Instrumental progressive rock isn't a description that reveals all that much about the music as such, as it first and foremost will tell you what isn't on the album more than what is. As such ventures go, Pymlico is a project that, at least on this occasion, explores multiple facets of the genre, but always with a good ear and focus on accessible and compelling melodies and harmonies. Opening piece A Day Out revolves around playful, jubilant instrument details and a tribal-tinged vibrant drum pattern, honing in on more of a folk or world music-inspired sound. These landscapes are revisited later on in Wanderlust, albeit now with more of a Middle East-inspired general sound, with unusual, exotic sounds and timbres a dominating part of the proceedings. Sounds of the City revolves around a funk-tinged dark toned theme with compelling groove-laden drum patterns and quirky keyboard textures, alternating with more of a light toned and elegant theme closer to what one might find on a neo-progressive album. The East Side is a different kettle of fish again, basically alternating between a saxophone and keyboards-driven theme that wouldn't have been out of place on an album such as Jan Garbarek's "Twelve Moons" with a more typical, dark toned later day Pink Floydian theme, on this occasion exploring these in succession rather than as alternating movements. Themes with something of a jazz orientation are also at hand on Bobcat, as one of three alternating themes there, where the other two are more vibrant riff-driven ones with associations towards harder edged modern progressive rock with tight guitar riffs and keyboards paired off against each other and vintage progressive hard rock with a looser dark toned guitar sound paired off with a classic organ sound. While on Piz Gloria, we're treated to more of an electronics-flavored creation that wouldn't have been all that out of place on a Porcupine Tree album with tight guitar riffs, a rich array of keyboards and effects of various kinds and dark, brooding synth undercurrents used to good effect. Concluding epic Neptune ends the CD in a pleasantly engaging manner, with Pink Floydian sequences, atmospheric interludes and more vibrant sections with both saxophone and guitar soloing as dominant features, with nifty and effective transitions between the various themes and cleverly executed build-ups and thematic developments too.

Conclusion. Pymlico's third studio album is one that covers quite a lot of different ground, and appears to hone in on contemporary progressive rock just as much as on the vintage varieties of this type of music. Compelling melodies and distinct, well-developed moods and atmospheres are key features throughout, and the CD is, as expected these days, I guess, well produced and mixed as well. An album for those who enjoy progressive rock when it is instrumental and varied, a key audience might be those that find as much pleasure in listening to Jan Garbarek at his most accessible as they do when they pop in a CD by Porcupine Tree in their CD player.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 15, 2015
The Rating Room

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