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(74:35, Mike Oldhill)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dark Matter 7:53 2. Synapse 7:45 3. Panta Rhei 4:36 4. Three Poisons 7:18 5. Evil Eye 6:01 6. Black Memories 5:55 7. Misgivings 6:10 8. Shadows 6:15 9. Qui 5:17 10. Drawing Hope 6:24 11. Endurance 11:01 LINEUP: Michael Altenberger - all instruments
Prolusion. German composer and musician Mike OLDHILL, also known as Michael Altenberger, first appeared back in 2011 with his first solo album "Eleven Explorers". I understand his endeavors are all studio creations only, and that he is rather meticulous when creating material. Hence why it took five years before his second album "Dark Matters" appeared, presumably. Like his initial CD, this album was self-released.
Analysis. What becomes obvious when you listen to the music of Mike Oldhill is that he does have his heart and mind set in s retro-oriented sphere of mind when creating music. The sounds and the movements used, the developments within the compositions and the overall mood and atmosphere all have that feel of the 1970's to them. With, perhaps, just a wee bit of symphonic progressive rock as the main guiding light. Layered keyboards and piano motifs dominate this production through and through. The piano in particular can be rather impressive, and get a strong impression that Oldhill have studied quite a bit of classical music over the years, if not in a student or professional manner then at least certainly as a musician with a desire to learn. The keyboards complement the core piano motifs. Some times by way of soft, layered and gliding arrangements, at times with an atmospheric laden guitar solo texture further emphasizing the more delicate aspects of these calmer landscapes. The flute makes it's way into these more careful excursions as well. On other occasions the keyboards, as well as the piano, takes on a more dramatic and quirky orientation, with associations towards the more challenging artists in the progressive rock universe easy to drop in those particular circumstances. But there's also room for some jazzier escapades here, or at least jazzrock oriented ones, and in the more occasional department we find both gentle psychedelic details and the use of more exotic sounding, world music oriented elements. This is a pleasant and compelling album experience throughout, and associations towards the likes of Camel and Genesis are commonplace. The occasional Floydian and arguably even ELP-tinged moments do appear here and there, and I guess the more jazz-rock tinged details here wouldn't feel out of place for those who enjoy the more accessible bands in the Canterbury tradition. There is a lot to enjoy on this production, especially for those who has a passion about 70's style progressive rock in general and the bands mentioned in particular. Oldhill has the mood and atmosphere just about perfectly covered, up to and including some standalone piano interludes with a distinct classical music orientation, but the quality of the compositions as such isn't quite at that level for me. While there isn't anything amiss here, the songs are all compelling, accessible and inviting, there isn't anything here that manage to engage me on a deeper level either. A good album, in essence, but no more than that.
Conclusion. Mike Oldhill's second album "Dark Matter" strikes me as the kind of CD that most fans of old school progressive rock will find enjoyable. The moods and atmosphere is familiar, the main instruments as well, and it will be a journey into landscapes known and treasured by many enthusiasts. To how great an extent this album will be treasured will come down to the individual of course, but I suspect those more focused on moods and atmospheres while listening to music of this specific kind will also be the ones that will treasure this CD the most. If that is the case for you, and bands such as Camel and Genesis are among your favorites, this is a CD that you probably will enjoy.
Progmessor: November 25th, 2018
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