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(46:58; Ex'cess Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. The Rising 1:33 2. M. T 6:24 3. Whatever Mama Said 6:03 4. Dripping Cycles 7:48 5. Jerry and the Suitcase 5:14 6. Inventio 4:14 7. Ich Will Tanzen 5:43 8. Klavier Stuck Fur Freude 3:09 9. The Great Beyond 6:50 LINEUP: Lars Boutrup - keyboards, organ, synthesizers Niels W. Knudsen - bass Spike Nior - drums, percussion
Prolusion. Danish composer and musician Lars BOUTRUP has been releasing solo albums since 2005, in addition to being involved in various rock bands and composing music for other arenas from what I understand. "The Great Beyond" dates back to the spring of 2020, is the fourth album by Lars Boutrup's Music for keyboards, and was released through Danish label Ex'cess Records.
Analysis. When the band name is Music for Keyboards, certain expectations will come with such a name. That keyboards of various kinds will dominate the proceedings is something of a given expectation of course, and that is indeed the case too. Apart from that one might take note of some of the artist names name-dropped by the creator as sources of inspiration. In this case Jon Lord and Keith Emerson can be found in that context. Which is kind of appropriate but not truly describing I think. But as far as the type of music is concerned, keyboard driven instrumental progressive rock is the name of the game here. Trying to describe the individual compositions here is a task I'll shy away from. I don't know enough about the art of composing in the first place, and I lack a certain knowledge about how to play all kinds of keyboards as well. Hence going into the finer details of this album is something other writers will have to cater for. What I can state is that we have an album dominated by a specific type of composition. One where bass and drums create and maintain drive and momentum in the major parts of the songs, and where keyboards, organ and synthesizers play upon this steady foundation in engaging and often expressive manners. Most often featuring multiple layers of different kinds of keyboards, with the different sounds alternating in having dominant roles and delivering solo runs, with call and answer routines explored in direct as well as more indirect manners. Some patterns used here and there may possibly originate from scale movements, but if so then developed and transmuted into something different along the way, and those who treasure the use of finer, subtle contrasts alongside more subtle undercurrents and delicate overlays will have a field day with this production as well. Classic 70's organ tones, keyboard sounds from multiple decades and electronic sounds and effects meet, mix, join and run away in a literal smorgasbord of keyboard sounds throughout, and motifs are explored, developed and revisited too. My impression is that these compositions span decades as well as different subsets of progressive rock, with symphonic progressive rock arguably being the most notable field explored. The use of orchestral oriented instrument sounds and soundscapes emphasizing this just as much as the flamboyant keyboard details fans of bands like ELP usually adore. But the more electronic sounding aspects of this album also gives me associations towards the likes of Tangerine Dream here and there, if not as a dominant aspect of the album then at least as a presence. Otherwise I note that those who treasure the use of keyboards in orchestral arrangements get a song that explores this approach more in depth, and that those who love and treasure the expressive use of standalone piano have a song made to cover that specific landscape as well.
Conclusion. Instrumental albums where one instrument is given a clear dominating presence isn't a creation that will ever have a vast and broad appeal, not even in a progressive rock context. But those who love and treasure such creations should find this most recent album by Boutrup to be an interesting one, and then especially those who have a strong affection for such bands being a trio consisting of a bassist, a drummer and a keyboard player. A certain affection for music of this kind to explore landscapes that also appears to look beyond the 1970's for inspiration will probably be useful though, and a taste for expressive keyboard performances can be noted down as needed.
Progmessor: August 2020
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