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(65:17, Progrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. New Rising 5:52 2. Stay Beside 6:03 3. Step into My World 5:42 4. Melissa 3:59 5. My Lovely Mr. Singing Club 2:51 6. Attract Me 5:29 7. Paid for Glance 7:24 8. Moon Talks to Me 7:51 9. Rising Shore 6:01 10. Closer 7:36 11. Out of Clouds 5:05 12. Making Of 1:24 LINEUP: Marek Arnold – keyboards, wind synths; sax, clarinet Andreas Gemeinhardt – guitars Ulf Reinhardt – drums Heiko Rehm – basses Anne Trautmann – vocals Ronny Gruber – vocals Lars Kohler – vocals With: Jens Vieweg – oboe (1, 4, 8) Jorg Baudach – trumpet (1, 9)
Prolusion. SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR is a German act that seemingly came out of nowhere in 2006, when their debut album "The Puzzle" harvested two prizes at the German Rock and Pop awards. Since then the band has been signed by US label Progrock Records, who issued their follow-up production "Look In 2 My World" late in 2008.
Analysis. Whatever you may feel about the approach this act takes to the art of creating music, there's one undeniable fact that can be stated when describing them: They have chosen to follow a novel and rather unique style and sound. Indeed, a word like original is never far away when descriptions of their creations are given, if not applicable to all elements of the individual compositions then at least for the sum total of the parts that make up the songs on their latest effort. In terms of the musical style explored, a simple categorization is next to impossible. There's a great deal of variety on this production overall as well as within the individual compositions, thus pinpointing this creation is a daunting task. However, some stylistic explorations do dominate more than others and personally I'd say that the main ingredients making up this release are a modern variety of symphonic progressive rock, a melodic brand of progressive metal and fusion; the latter with a few more nods to jazz than progressive rock. These three different stylistic approaches are elements all to be found within most songs, in some cases merely utilizing elements from one or two of these styles in a composition dominated by the third, but just as often containing segments where each of these musical directions are explored individually. And to add even more variation, components from other styles of music are thrown into the mix too, with oboe and clarinet in particular providing musical elements I associate with classical music and folk music, and synthesizers used to create lush and ambient atmospheres in some places and adding an electronic sheen to harder sounding parts, giving these an industrial sheen. Disco and funk are styles visited too, most wholeheartedly on the tune Out of Clouds one of two bonus tracks on the US edition of this release. The band itself provides one additional detail further enriching this colorful musical palette by having no than three lead vocalists in the band; the textures provided by this element in the performances add to the element of variation that dominates this production. What may deter some from exploring this outfit any further is how these elements are mixed. Not a negative feature from my point of view, but others may find it disheartening that the many differences and contrasts in expression are smoothed over rather than focused upon. The band opts for a smooth mix, tuning down and dampening the most contrasting elements from their rich palette of musical and melodic flavors. In short, they have chosen to give the individual songs as well as the album as a whole a mix that should make it appeal to a mainstream audience just as much (perhaps even more) than to an audience looking for a creation breaking new musical ground. It is tempting to say that despite the richness of styles explored a key feature of this production is a general leaning towards traditional pop music. When giving this creation an intensive and concentrated listen this statement isn't a plausible one though, but the mix and production make it appear that way on superficial exploration. One might say that the songs are radio-friendly and melodic, but with many layers, details and textures that will not be revealed until the listeners take the time to explore this album more thoroughly.
Conclusion. In my view, "Step in 2 My World" is a truly brilliant release, utilizing a plethora of different stylistic elements to create a diversified album rich in details to explore and nuances to be discovered. However, the choice to give the album a mix and production appealing to a mainstream audience may well alienate some listeners. Personally I think this is a great album and one that should be compelling to many followers of progressive music in general.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 20, 2009
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