The Netherlands – The Symphonic Dream
Tracklist: June (8:08), Secrets Behind The Curtain (7:50), The Symphonic Dream (8:56), Space Peace (4:06), Thanks For Everything (5:19), A Song For John (3:55), Eddy Will Not Be Ready (6:55), The Black Event (8:02)
A project with a name like Lars Boutrup’s Music For Keyboards has a name that is self-explanatory with respect to the predominant musical instrument. But the music of the Danish keyboard whiz’s outfit incorporates much more, namely bass and drums. Good things come in threes, and this trio (bass duties are handled on various tracks by two different bassists) serves up a sugary, symphonic concoction of instrumental prog across the CD’s eight tracks on the group’s sophomore effort, appropriately entitled The Symphonic Dream.
Boutrup, on keyboards, organ and synthesizers, is joined by returning drummer and percussionist Fredrik Sunesen and newcomers on bass Niels W. Knudsen (Xcentrik) and Andreas S. Jensen (Funktuary). Boutrup himself has recorded and toured with no less than a dozen bands since his time as a teenager in the late seventies, and has interestingly also done music composition and performance to over 200 silent films screened in Sweden and Denmark. His experience shines on The Symphonic Dream, and it’s not just symphonic we’re dealing with as an influence here. Whether by accident or design, Eddie Jobson’s “industrial prog” template laid out in the UKZ track Radiation makes appearances on a few tracks of The Symphonic Dream with respect to the dark orchestral style keyboards and the often machine-like drumming elements.
This is evident to a point on the unique title track, which showcases recurring tsunamis of drumming from Sunesen, choral synthesizer elements from Boutrup evoking Tangerine Dream, and stabs of bass from Knudsen.
A few other tracks on the CD evoke German prog project Mind Movie, such as Thanks For Everything which spotlights pendulum swings of bass from Jensen, some synthesizer runs from Boutrup evoking The Alan Parsons Project and freewheeling drumming from Sunesen.
Eddy Will Not Be Ready is another Mind Movie-like tune starting with a Prokofiev-esque feel and digital string keyboards from Boutrup, all giving way to a techno-rock dance beat flavoured by shimmering ribbons of synthesizer and fortified by the drumming of Sunesen, the whole shebang pointing to the Vozero trilogy era of Phil Manzanera as a commonality.
Overall the CD is not unlike the solo work of Erik Norlander, but without Norlander’s often used minor key arrangements.
You can check out samples of music from the CD, as well as some samples of Boutrup’s other work, by hitting up the link above.
The four-way foldout CD booklet is colourful and professionally done, featuring a panoramic ocean photograph in the foldout as well as track listing on the back face and credits.
This CD will appeal mostly to fans of keyboard driven instrumental prog. Those lyrically oriented purveyors will have to choose something else for their next karaoke night.
I would say that the main area of improvement or opportunity for Boutrup with his next release is to compose his tracks with stronger endings, as many of the tunes on The Symphonic Dream end in drumless almost ambient sections and come across as weaker than their respective intros. So my rating comes in half a point under recommended.
Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10