Saturday, 1 September 2012

LINK: Erik Norlander review

Galactic Travels for Keyboard Hero

Erik Norlander – The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition
Erik Norlander

The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition (Gonzo Multimedia, 2012)

This three disc set includes two audio CDs and a DVD by progressive rock keyboard wizard Erik Norlander. The American musician is one of the leading keyboardists in the current progressive rock scene. This collection contains new versions of some of Norlander’s best instrumental works written for prog rock band Rocket Scientists, vocalist Lana Lane and his own solo albums over the past years.

Erik Norlander’s keyboard work is spectacular. He performs high energy symphonic rock, inspired by Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, although he also creates ambient atmospheres and slow tempo arrangements that recall the work of Vangelis and Pink Floyd’s Rick Wright. Norlander likes heavy drum beats which is fine, although it wouldn’t hurt to feature more diverse drumming. The guitars are a different story. Although Norlander is able to create vigorous keyboard solos, the electric guitars contribute unnecessary hard rock and metal riffs that add nothing to the music. However, the guitarists on the album are quite good, especially when they are soloing and not wasting their time with senseless heavy riffs.

The Galactic Collective: Definitive Edition was recorded on a remarkable collection of classic analog synthesizers (including 6 Moog instruments), Hammond organ and an Steinway model B grand piano at Cleveland Ohio’s Magnetic North Studio with engineer Chris Keffer and executive producer Dena Henry. In addition to Norlander, the album features bassist Mark Matthews, drummer Nick LePar, choral vocal sections by Lana Lane and John Payne and several guest guitarists comprising John Payne, Mitch Perry, Mark McCrite, Ron Redfield and Freddy DeMarco.

Tracks on disc 1 include Arrival, Neurosaur, Fanfare For Absent Friends, Sky Full of Stars, Astrology Prelude, Trantor Station, After The Revolution, Garden of the Moon, Dreamcurrents, and The Dark Water.

Disc 2 titled Echoes From The Collective features unreleased alternate versions and a new recording of Erik’s classic arrangement of “Space: 1999”. Track listing: Space: 1999, Sky Full of Stars – Piano and Vocal Version, Garden of the Moon – Long Version, The Darker Water.

The DVD shows the entire in-studio video shot during the real sessions and Norlander discusses each song extensively. There is also a really fascinating feature called Behind the Wall of Doom; the Synthesizers of the Galactic Collective where Norlander describes and shows some of his most precious synthesizers, including a giant modular system.

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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.