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(63:37, ‘Glowing Sky’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Overture - Into the Night 7:54 2. The Quest 4:54 3. The Secrets of Your Mind 5:46 4. The Benefaction of the Noble Wizard 5:06 5. Listen to Me 6:10 6. Stones to Flowers 1:30 7. Magicking 2:30 8. The Riddle 7:55 9. Dream and Premonition 4:22 10. Strange Days 6:37 11. End of Days 10:53 SOLO PILOT: Anonymous – all instruments and vocals With: Someone – violin, strings &: Someone – vocals (10)
Prolusion. The US-based outfit THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE appeared more or less out of nowhere in 2009, a one man project whose creator prefers his endeavors in the field of progressive rock to stay anonymous. "The Dream of the Magic Jongleur" is his third full length production and was released in 2011.
Analysis. Sometimes one of the easiest tasks you can get is to place an artist or an album within a specified context. It can be a daunting task, and an exercise that occasionally leads to tearing your hair out or banging your forehead against the nearest brick wall, but on other occasions it's just a matter of stating the blatantly obvious. And in this case symphonic progressive rock is just that; it'll take less than a minute to firmly pace this CD within that context and it stays firmly deep within that realm throughout. In fact, if this production had been released some 35 years ago I suspect it might have been canon at this point, an entity important enough to become a referential item itself. Not a perfect creation though, at least not one that will be universally regarded as such, but then again you won't find too many albums that can be described as such, even among the canonical items inside or outside of the art rock universe. I suspect those with a deep affection for the 70's brand of symphonic art rock will find plenty of slight nods on this production that reference the giants of old. But while there are numerous details of that kind, I find that they are used and utilized in more of an accidental manner. Because this is an album that doesn't try to replicate any specific sound or approach. Moments reminding of Yes, Genesis and Gentle Giant come and go, and in lead vocals kind of manner I did think I came across a few details closer to Jethro Tull as well, but all of these fleeting, brief instances are all a part of a greater whole. One dominated by fairly elaborate arrangements, and more often than not a striking lead motif with a plethora of instrumental details beneath, the latter often of a fairly complex and often intricate nature, ear candy for the connoisseur and deep listener. Details are something of a key word, as there are lots of them to discover. But rather than utilizing the various flamboyant instrumental escapades to dramatic effect they are dampened and subdued more often than not, carefully implemented within compositions that have been planned with care and affection. Technically speaking, mix and production are just as carefully executed as the compositions themselves and the in studio performance. High quality through and through, obviously catered for by someone with a vast amount of experience in such surroundings. What's left is the impact of the compositions as such, and in that department I surmise opinions will be many. The pieces most firmly placed within the symphonic art rock realm are by and large impressive ones, richly arranged, detailed and with well developed themes and motifs throughout. And most intriguing of all to my ears is the final one, with its almost panic-like dampened rhythms and spare instrumentation, with shifts towards a majestic, grandiose and joyful end sequence in the second half as a logical and well executed development. Other compositions will be more of an acquired taste though, from the intricate instrumental flourishes of The Quest and the bombastic church organ that is the heart and soul of The Benefaction of the Noble Wizard to the bass dominated landscapes of Dream and Premonition. It's not a case of hit and miss, but rather a case of how much you enjoy certain individual items by themselves rather than as part of the total package. An impressive disc on a number of different levels.
Conclusion. "The Dream of the Magic Jongleur" is an impressive creation, especially since it has been conceived, developed and recorded by a single person. And while some friends do help out with some details, this is the vision of one man. A man with a strong and deep affection for yesteryear's brand of symphonic progressive rock, and who has tried and, at least to my ears, succeeded in crafting a disc filled with music that should find strong favor among others who share his fascination, in particular for the sophisticated varieties of it.
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