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(49:53, Ex'cess Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Small as a Ball 6:21 2. Metro Scheme 69 6:51 3. Back to Horn 7:11 4. Fur Deine Kleider 6:37 5. Heaven Can Wait 2:43 6. Will We Dream About the Ball? 7:53 7. And the Boy Gets a Cigar 5:00 8. Story Harp 7:17 LINEUP: Lars Boutrup modern and vintage keyboards Fredrik Sunesen drums, percussion Niels W. Knudsen bass
Prolusion. The Danish project MUSIC FOR KEYBOARDS is the creative vehicle of veteran keyboardist and composer Lars Boutrup, who has been active on the Danish music scene for the last three decades or so. Music For Keyboards was created just over 10 years ago, and has three full length albums to its name so far. "Small as a Ball" is the most recent of those, and was released through the fledgling Danish label Ex'cess Records in 2015.
Analysis. Once this CD kicks off with the title track Small as a Ball, you kind of expect this production to be a full-fledged excursion into the realms where bands such as ELP and Atomic Rooster made their name. The arrangements are massive and majestic, the sounds and textures dramatic and often dark of tone, and with a certain excess to them that reminds me of the former to a much greater degree than the latter, but with a slight touch of the ominous darkness that was a staple for so many of the songs Atomic Rooster is known for. But apart from an excursion into a more ELP-oriented landscape towards the end of this CD, on the composition And the Boy Gets a Cigar, Boutrup and his fellow musicians actually take a left turn to landscapes of a rather different character for the greater amount of play time on this disc. The keyboards dominate through and through, and the organ is a central instrument on many occasions, but keyboards and synthesizers are rather more dominant throughout, and the landscapes explored elsewhere tend to be of a less dramatic nature overall. There are still surges and swirling solo runs, but just as often if not even more so are floating textures of a more smooth nature, atmospheric landscapes that at timers glide over to ambient territories as well. Some of the rhythm details come across as programmed, and there's an electronic tinge to many of the compositions that unfold. One blended with a more organic landscape as well admittedly, a sort of meeting between the old world and the new world of tangents based music, you might say. My main impression is that the greater majority of the album may be described as the accessible aspects of ELP paired off almost half and half with the more compelling aspects of Tangerine Dream, with occasional dips into ambient oriented landscapes and a slight tendency to incorporate sections with something more of a mainstream, accessible side to them. Not in a massive way as far as the latter is concerned, but with occasional details lurking beneath the lead motifs and main arrangements that have something of a 90s synth pop vibe to them. An album that hovers on the borders between classic symphonic progressive rock and accessible electronic music, with a slight touch of mainstream music making occasional masked appearances.
Conclusion. Those fond of instrumental music with the organ and keyboards as the main instruments will find a lot to be of interest on the bands third studio album. While it does fit within the main scope of a progressive rock album, it is a CD that includes and incorporates details also from other genres and traditions, in a kind of the 70s-meets-the-90s manner accessible, but elegant, without sacrificing some main features of a more challenging nature within this general context. First and foremost a production that will have its main appeal among those with a strong affection for keyboards driven instrumental progressive rock, and then of a fairly accessible nature at
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