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(73:27; Milky Way Gas Station)
Call me an old proghead if you like, but any album which starts with a Hammond organ firing up is going to have me engaged from the first note to the very last. Songwriter and singer Rob Ijpelaan (who also provides acoustic and electric guitars, bass and additional keyboards) contacted me some time after he had originally sent this through to me, and I did my normal apologising for being too busy, disorganised etc. which meant it was taking longer than I would have liked to get to it, but his response was not too worry as he has been selling African Art for more than 20 years so is good at exercising patience. I had also told Rob I was quite prepared to work from a download (I live at the end of the world after all), but he also wanted me to have the full release so I could experience the whole thing. So all in all I was impressed long before I got into it. This is the debut from Dutch act Milky Way Gas Station, and the quartet also includes Niels Hoppe (lead guitar), Harald Veenker (drums) and Jeroen Vriend (bass). There are also a few guests helping out on the album, and one of those keyboard players is none other than Joakim Svalberg (Opeth), not bad for a little-known band. As I write this there isn’t even a single review of this on Prog Archives, so somehow they have managed to slip through the net, which I certainly can’t explain, as this is a polished and inviting album which drags the listener into their world and refuses to let them go. It is highly melodic, yet also has symphonic tendencies, while the CD comes in a simple digipak but I love the artwork and the way it has all been put together. Most of the songs are fairly short, just a few stretching the ten minute mark, until you get to the last number on the album, “Telescope Sight” which is more than 25 minutes long. Right from the beginning and the acoustic guitar, one is taken into a world where the music has been highly arranged and space is an important additional instrument. There are no drums for the first few minutes, and when they do come in they provide addition rhythmic support for the melody at the front. Vocals are strong, electric guitar moves and sways, totally changing the musical aspect when it makes an entry. In some ways it reminds me of ‘The World’-era Pendragon, yet with additional lightness and a style of singer songwriter which for some reason makes me think of The Levellers each time I play it, and I have no idea why (good old subconscious is picking up on something I’m missing). Highly polished, compelling, superb soaring progressive rock with elements also of Big Big Train, this is an album I highly recommend.
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