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(49:17; Layered Reality Productions)
TRACK LIST: 1. Ingress 2:35 2. Perspex Cassidy 6:16 3. He's a Transponster 6:27 4. VFR into IMC 1:23 5. Atomic Era Cocktails 4:52 6. Astral 1:57 7. Invective 4:53 8. Permeant 3:59 9. Inclement 5:45 10. Refractive 4:28 11. Ingress (Gavin Graham Remix) 2:32 12. Invective (Retrologue Remix) 4:10 LINEUP: Andi Kravljaca - guitars, keyboards, bass with Rich Hinks - bass Harri Koskela - keyboards Andreas Soderin - keyboards Emil Pohjalainen - guitars Alistair Bell - guitars Pekka Laitinen - keyboards
Prolusion. Swedish based project BIOPLAN is the brainchild of composer and musician Andi Kravljaca, who some might recall from his stints as a vocalist in bands such as Seventh Wonder, Elsesphere and a handful of other bands. From his base in Stockholm he has developed his Bioplan project for some time, and in the spring of 2019 he released the initial EP "Ocular". He has since signed to Dutch label Layered Reality Productions, who released his second EP "Epipath" this year, as well as the full length production "Epipath & Ocular" which compiles both EPs along with some additional bells and whistles.
Analysis. The self description for this project is that it combines the genres synthwave and modern progressive metal. Which, in my opinion, sounds kind of right but isn't the manner in which I'd categorize this music. It works as a more superficial description though, and it is a definition I presume will make a lot of sense to younger listeners in particular. As I'm a bit of an old git, my references will reflect that I guess. What I hear as a recurring element in most of the songs here are synths, keyboards and electronic effects that add something of an 80's Tangerine Dream vibe to the proceedings. Mainly as undercurrents or flavoring given a distant placement in the mix, but occasionally also in interludes, transitions and occasional passages. By and large I'd describe this as more of a secondary element for this production. Often present, but mainly in a subservient role. Instrumental progressive metal makes up one of the two dominant aspects of this production. I might argue that of the two, this one is actually the lesser of these as well. We are pretty much alternating between two different takes of progressive metal here too. On one side we have a more traditional take on the style with riffs, soloing and keyboards arranged more or less according to the Dream Theater school of things, while the other is a more dramatic, booming variety of the style that gives me associations towards the word djent. At times these will, obviously, be combined. But the main identity mark of this album for me are the guitar solo runs. Kravljaca comes across as a versatile guitarist for starters, providing everything from more relaxed and atmospheric laden plucked guitar solo runs to flowing guitar solo movements, neo-classical escapades and what to me sounds like good, old fashioned shredding. The manner in which he executes those varieties, and the arrangements he builds beneath them, gives me a strong association towards an instrumentalist like Joe Satriani. While perhaps not all that similar in style, the manner in which the guitar solo parts flow, harmonize and tends to focus on melodies and being accessible , being inclusive towards the backing instrumentation, makes me consider Kravljaca as a guitarist that belongs to what I'd describe as the Satriani school of guitarists in terms of sound and execution. And for me this aspect of the album is the dominant one, even if explored in landscapes and territories way outside of what Satch might be comfortable with. At the end of the album there are also two remixed versions of earlier songs on the album, and for those two remixes I'd say that the synthwave description is most appropriate indeed. The remix of 'Ingress' in particular, and while it may well be an accidental feature of this one I thought I heard a few details from various computer games on this song that I haven't heard since I used my trusty old Amiga 500 a few decades back.
Conclusion. I do find this album, or perhaps compilation is a more suitable word here, to be a really interesting and well made creation. Classic era progressive metal, flavored with djent oriented details and progressive electronic music Tangerine Dream style serves as an interesting foundation for the Satriani school of instrument soloing executed on top. For me at least, I'd say that fans of instrumental guitarists similar to Joe Satriani may well be just as much of a key audience for this album as fans of instrumental progressive metal. It is a strong production as far as full length debut albums go to boot.
Progmessor: July 2020
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