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(44:24; Apollon Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Breaking Protocol 6:04 2. Confusion 5:55 3. Clockwork 5:14 4. Are We There Yet? 5:18 5. Time Out 6:18 6. Little Nellie 4:43 7. Doppelmayr 4:46 8. WTG 6:06 LINEUP: Ovvind Broter - keyboards Stephan Hvinden - guitars Andreas Sjo Engen - guitars Are Nerland - bass, keyboards, guitars Robin Havem Lovoy - saxophone Arild Broter - drums, keyboards Oda Rydning - percussion with: Mattias Krohn Nielsen - guitars Ole Michael Bjorndal - guitars Erlen Lindvaag Solemdal - Rhodes piano Filip Brekke Steigedal - trombone Petter Lien - trumpet Roine Stolt - guitars
Prolusion. Norwegian band Pymlico have been a going entity since 2009 or thereabouts, and have been steady suppliers of their specific brand of progressive rock ever since, lead by the creative impulses of main man Arild Broter. "Supermassive" is their seventh studio production, and was released in the spring of 2022 through Norwegian label Apollon Records.
Analysis. If there is one key word one should use to describe the music on this latest Pymlico album, then that word is elegant. Everything is smooth and polished, not to the extent that nerve, tension and contrast are lacking, but elegant in the manner you might associate with the mood and atmosphere you might find at an art exhibition or a similar kind of venue. Secondary descriptive words for the music here might be expressions such as playful and uplifting. This is very much a good mood production, music that you will hum along to, atmospheres that will make a long drive an enjoyable experience solely by the moods the music establish when you drive along, even if the vehicle of choice is an old banger car. Outside of the more emotional laden associations that come with the compositions here, the music itself stays safely inside of an instrumental progressive rock context. The saxophone, guitar and keyboards are the main lead instruments, and the songs will switch back and forth between these two instruments a lot, with the saxophone often handling the more careful and fragile moments while the guitar is used more for flowing escapades. Occasionally with a switch around in roles or a combination of course, this is progressive rock after all. But there are general tendencies at play here. Just about all instrumentalists get their chance to shine though, and I did note a nifty little bass solo appearing as well as a fine example of what I believe to be an electric piano solo tucked in at some point for instance. The band have stated just about all along that they create music that blends aspects of progressive rock with fusion, and that description is true on this album as well. We get soft and elegant cinematic sections, more vibrant and playful escapades with funkier elements in the lead, more atmospheric laden passages that arguably adds a little bit of Pink Floyd to the table and more expressive sections a bit closer in style and orientation to what an artist like Al Di Meola became known for back in the day. That we have keyboards adding a bit of a cosmic flavor to some of the songs probably merits a mention too, even if the end result is far removed from the type of music space cadets will find immediately interesting, and I should add that tasteful and elegant backing role of the keyboards is a staple throughout this production. For the audiophiles out there another tidbit of interest should be that the mix and production, to my ears at least, comes across as impeccable.
Conclusion. Pymlico have a good track record of creating albums that are smooth and elegant, and they add to that track record with their new album "Supermassive". Playful and uplifting material with an expressive nature honing in on the subtle rather than the dramatic is what you get here, with plenty of lead moments from the saxophone, the guitar and the keyboards - and a well thought out blend of jazzrock and progressive rock explored within an instrumental context. A production well worth getting more familiar with for those who find such a description interesting.
Progmessor: May 2022
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