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(72:09, ’Glowing Sky’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Our Great Kingdom Overture 7:22 2. The Transformation of the King 6:03 3. The Golden King 9:33 4. Captive Days 4:11 5. The Queen of Sorrow 8:22 6. Save Yourself 6:09 7. Golden Swords 7:00 8. The Battle 4:16 9. Great Day 7:35 10. Great Kingdom Finale 11:38 LINEUP: Anonymous – vocals; guitars; keyboards; bass; drums With: The Psychedelic Ensemble Orchestra – orchestrations Amanda Smith Roberts – violin Kurt Fowler – violoncello C. Francis – vocals Ann Caren – vocals
Prolusion. The US project THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE appeared more or less out of thin air back in 2009, and has since then been an active contributor to the progressive rock universe, fairly steadily recording and releasing new material. "The Tale of the Golden King" is the fourth full length studio production to be released under this moniker, and was commercially available from the fall of 2013.
Analysis. One of the intriguing aspects about The Psychedelic Ensemble is that few know who the person creating and releasing this music is. He prefers to stay unknown for personal reasons, and so far he has mostly catered for all aspects of his productions by himself as well. This latest production does see the man behind this project expand his creative borders dramatically however, with a handful of guest musicians involved as well as employing an orchestra to record classical symphonic passages used throughout this CD. And as far as changes go, this one is all for the better as far as I can tell. Symphonic progressive rock of various kinds has been the chosen field of The Psychedelic Ensemble throughout, and on this occasion this is taken to a whole new level entirely. We do get plenty of the features we kind of expect from an album released under this moniker of course – swirling, flamboyant keyboards aplenty, majestic organ textures, dark and dampened guitars, and more often than not arrangements with a distinctly dramatic nature either as a dominant trait or as a more dampened undercurrent. Especially the keyboard arrangements are of a kind and nature that should make most avid fans of this brand of progressive rock salivate, richly layered, complex and quirky, often with a feeling that these could very well be rearranged to be performed by a full scale classical symphonic orchestra. The manner in which the classical symphonic recordings are utilized throughout this production adds a certain emphasis to that point of view in my opinion: The transitions between the classical and the rock based sequences are seamless, and there are moments where both of these aspects are tightly interwoven as well, and so tightly that separating one from the other when listening to these passages is a challenging task indeed. The stylistic palette utilized is a fairly broad one, too. And while The Psychedelic Ensemble never strays from the symphonic progressive rock territories, he does include a fair share of details from other genres, such as folk music tinged instrumental details, occasional psychedelic touches and quite a few instrumental details and movements with a distinctly jazz-oriented sound to them. As far as in-genre references go, I did note some tendencies towards Yes first and foremost. Not in any major way, but occasional details here and there struck me as familiar sounding in that specific context.
Conclusion. "The Tale of the Golden King" comes across as an impressive production through and through. Excellent compositions, excellent musicianship, superbly assembled and with a quality production to boot. While it may not hold a universal appeal, this album should most certainly be of interest to those with an affection for symphonic progressive rock, and then most of all to those who cherish music of that kind made with a high degree of sophistication. A truly superb production, and just about as close to perfection as you can get in my point of view.
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