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(73:16, Gentle Art of Music Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Transformed 2:14 2. We Are What We Are 9:15 3. Beyond Man and Time 6:28 4. Unchain the Earth 7:06 5. The Ugliest Man in the World 7:52 6. The Road of Creation 6:26 7. Somewhere in Between 2:03 8. The Shadow 5:57 9. The Wise in the Desert 5:38 10. The Fisherman 16:18 11. The Noon 3:59 LINEUP: Yogi Lang Ц vocals, keyboards Markus Jehle Ц keyboards Kalle Wallner Ц guitars Marc Turiaux Ц drums Werner Taus Ц bass
Prolusion. The German band RPWL has been around in one for or another since 2000, initially a Pink Floyd cover band that soon started to create and release their own original material. "Beyond Man and Time" is their fifth and most recent studio production, and was released by the indie label Gentle Art of Music.
Analysis. In the last few years the members of RPWL have involved themselves in various side projects or releasing solo material. A development that may have given some fans concerns, as it isn't unusual by far for a band to enter a state of hiatus under such circumstances. But RPWL has been just as active also in these years, and four years after their latest studio release a new album has arrived, to the delight of many long time fans, I surmise. Expectations may be high for the new material to be of the highest quality. Due to that some may be ever so slightly disappointed with this disc, I guess. The general quality is high, but the moments of pure goosebumps-inducing magic is something of a rare feature. At least as I regard this production. Rare in this context is first and foremost represented by Unchain the Heart, to my ears, a bass-driven affair with ample amounts of variety in intensity, richly layered arrangements and a sound that is comparable to early 80's Rush more than anything else. Complete with symphonic backdrop coming and going and Yogi Lang's calm, melodic vocals contrasting the instrumental displays to perfection. Long time fans will also give their approval to We Are What We Are, with the sadly soaring keyboard motifs in the instrumental middle passage a particular treat for those who have followed the band closely over the years. Many of the other songs explore a slightly different territory, however, most commonly exploring a triple set of themes, with one light-toned and fragile, sporting dampened instrumentation and vocals as the dominating features inserted in between harder-edged, dark toned guitar-driven parts with keyboards backing to a lesser or greater degree. At best when utilizing subtle electronic details or fluctuating keyboards in engaging constructions pairing off the tangents and the guitar whilst flavoring the proceedings with subtle instrumental details, not as engaging when opting for arrangements emphasizing the dominating instruments to a greater degree. Of course, those fond of Lang's carefully controlled lead vocals will find this production to be a treat anyhow. He's a good vocalist within the framework employed by this band, his pleasant voice a distinct presence that does add an additional level of interest for those fond of his specific approach and delivery. Long time fans recognizing themselves in such a context can purchase this album in the safe knowledge that this aspect is covered jut as well as on any previous efforts by this act, and arguably a tad better actually. Other than that the instrumental performances are excellent, as one might expect from this veteran act, and much the same can be said about mix and production.
Conclusion. Long time fans of RPWL should find "Beyond Man and Time" to be a satisfying experience, even if shying ever so slightly away from such trademark features as haunting, mournful keyboard motifs and gently exploring guitar solo passages. With a subtle emphasis on tight, controlled compositions, utilizing contrasting themes to good effect and Lang's carefully controlled lead vocals, there's still plenty to enjoy, however. Not too many moments of sheer enthralling magic for me, but it is a solid effort nonetheless.
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