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RPWL - 2013 - "A Show Beyond Man and Time"

(95:18 2CD, Metal Mind Productions)


******

Prolusion. The German band RPWL has been around in one shape or another since 1997, and from 2000 and onwards they have made a name for themselves with their brand of melodic, atmospheric progressive rock. Initially with clear tie-ins to their past as a Pink Floyd cover band, but in later years they have appeared to increasingly find a sound less easy to place directly within such a context. "A Show Beyond Man and Time" is RPWL's third live album, and was released in the fall of 2013 as the audio only alternative to a DVD production.

CD-1 (52:18)
******!

TRACK LIST: 

1.  Transformed 2:59
2.  We Are What We Are 10:45
3.  Beyond Man and Time 6:38
4.  Unchain the Earth 7:12
5.  The Ugliest Man 9:02
6.  The Road of Creation 6:10
7.  Somewhere in Between 9:32

LINEUP:

Yogi Lang  vocals; keyboards
Marc Turiaux  drums 
Kalle Wallner  guitar 
Werner Taus  bass 
Markus Jehle  keyboards 
Analysis. I recall that when I listened to and wrote about the studio version of this album, I found it to be a good and worthwhile production but one that didn't really manage to conjure too many truly magical, breathtaking experiences. A pleasant album, one that would please the fans for sure, but perhaps lacking somewhat of a spark. The live version of this production is a more interesting experience however. Just about all the songs contain more nerve and tension in the live performance documented here. That the band had performed these songs live on a number of occasions prior to recording this live production is most likely a key ingredient as to why these compositions come across as more intriguing entities on this occasion, that the band is tight and secure in their performance also an element that can be subscribed to the material performed live on many previous occasions and which elevates the listener experience quite nicely. You do come across live albums where you can't quite understand why this concert was recorded and released as a commercial product, but this one isn't one of them. Instead I'd say that live albums such as this one document just why we need live recordings. Those not familiar with RPWL will find the band to be subtly challenging to come to grips with when listening through this first half of the concert I guess. From an initial atmospheric oriented opening piece, one that reminded me ever so slightly of the Quodia project from a few years back, to the following fairly frail, ballad oriented compositions with and without alternating harder edged sequences, with the vocals as a key element and with occasional mystical sounding Moog solo elements. A bit in the songs starts to change in nature, and a composition like Unchain the Earth does, at least to my ears, sound like a meeting of minds between late 80's Rush and U2. This first of two discs ebbs out with Somewhere in Between, and by now RPWL has taken a few more detours ending up with a fairly sophisticated creation as far as shifts in moods, atmosphere and arrangements go, featuring frail atmospheric sequences with more of a cinematic nature supplemented quite nicely with both ballad-oriented gentle parts, harder edged passages driven by Wallner's guitar exploits and more psychedelic oriented excursions with more or less careful effects dominating the proceedings. Those familiar with Pink Floyd and Eloy will encounter familiar sounds throughout, although at least to my ears these are more faint trace signals than truly distinct and up front similarities as such.

CD-2 (43:00)
*****+

TRACK LIST: 

1.  The Shadow 6:58
2.  The Wise in the Desert 6:09
3.  The Fisherman 17:34
4.  The Noon 4:36
5.  Roses 7:43

LINEUP:

Yogi Lang  vocals; keyboards
Kalle Wallner  guitars 
Marc Turiaux  drums 
Werner Taus  bass 
Markus Jehle  keyboards 
With:
Ray Wilson  vocals (5)
Analysis. As this concert recording continues to unfold, there aren't any major developments as such to notice. This is a specific concert, covering a concept album in full, and the songs and the story continue being told in this second part of the live event in a nice manner yielding few surprises not already described for the first part of this double album. The songs are compelling, easy to like, performed with a distinct nerve and tension that elevate them ever so slightly when compared to the studio versions. The Shadow is a darker toned affair with more of a hard rock vibe to it, The Wise in the Desert book-ended by careful, frail movements with a harder edged guitar and piano driven elongated midsection, and then there's The Fisherman. One of the clear album highlights, a delicate and atmospheric construction of multiple themes, with mournful Mellotron dominated sequences, a marimba-flavored playful escapade with a slight oriental touch, careful and smooth psychedelic flavored vocals and guitar movements and quite a few impressive guitar driven escapades of a sensitive character as well as some more harder edged ones all assembled into an epic length, blissful experience that should please all with a soft spot for melodic, accessible progressive rock. The Noon concludes the thematic section of this concert on a careful, almost introverted note, a well thought out composition that ends the story in a possibly musically predictable but still impressive manner. There's just about always room for just one more song at a concert though, and on this occasion the obligatory extra number is Roses, one of RPWL's older tracks. Vocalist Ray Wilson joins the band on stage for this song, a real crowd pleaser of a composition with a chorus that invites to audience interaction, a strong and compelling singalong nature to the song in general, in a manner that gave me associations to bands such as Pink Floyd, Rush and U2 in the subtle details department within a stylistic context that most would describe as neo progressive rock.

Conclusion. Any band that has been a going concern for some time feel the need to release a live album, and in the case of RPWL they now have three such productions in their catalog. And at least in the case of this latest production, it is a very satisfying experience too. A nice and pleasant studio album is transformed into a more vital production here, with a stronger and more distinct nerve and tension elevating the material covered quite nicely. While I found the DVD version of this concert an even more satisfying experience, this double live CD is one well worth checking out too, with existing fans of RPWL and those with a soft spot for neo progressive rock as the likely key audiences.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 15 & 16, 2014
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Gentle Art of Music Records
RPWL


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