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Central Park: Reflected

Reflected is the second album from Munich based progressive rock band Central Park, although the band were founded as long ago as 1983 before splitting six years later without releasing an album. Some seventeen years after that split, the original line up got back together to release the album Unexpected, with reviews mentioning the likes of Saga and Asia by way of comparison. Now a further four years down the line and Central Park have welcomed a new vocalist in the shape of the wonderfully expressive Jannine Pusch and while I may not have heard her predecessor, what I can tell you is that this lady is a huge asset to Central Park and sounds so comfortable fronting their music that I would have no hesitation in marking her as an integral part of Reflected. Musically the band has also evolved, with little in the way of those earlier reference points in ear-shot throughout this interesting, eclectic mix of progressive vibes. Pusch adds the theatric delivery of Kate Bush, to the aggression of Shelley McErlaine (Alisha's Attic) to produce an atmospheric, yet commanding vocal performance that in places dominates the music, but in others is happy to fade into the background as the musical quintet of Jochen Scheffter (Hammond B-3, keyboards), Hans Ochs (guitars), York Von Wittern (bass) and Artur Silber (drums) turn up the intensity. There is a real story telling vibe to this album with little in the way of frivolity getting in the way of some serious themes, both musical and lyrical, whilst a tapestry of influences that includes Yes, Genesis, ELP, latter day Marillion, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and many more weaves a familiar, if satisfyingly different path.

Reflected revolves around the three part "Visions Of Cassandra", which brings the ancient story of the fall of Troy into a modern context, creating a trio of songs that convey a vast variety of emotions. Part one "Vision" sets the scene for an authoritarian and threatening society, with continued announcements over the atmospheric layers of keyboards of danger and possible death, ranging from threatening shouts to resigned sighs. It is an intentionally unsettling mixture that leads into violent crashes and clangs, before Pusch's lone voice/chant offers a more introspective, if no less eerie respite. The shorter, sharper punch of all out rocker "Doom" provides a welcome contrast, before the beautiful oriental percussion and dance beat of "Awakening" adds yet another texture to what has been an intense rollercoaster twenty two minutes. Impressively the rest of Reflected stands up well to what is a minor triumph in the middle of this album, with "Path Of Mercy" continuing the angular light and dark attack, "Free Fall" bringing an altogether groovier side of the band to the fore and the airy "White Princess" allowing Pusch to give her most Bush like performance of the disc. Scheffter and Ochs are booth hugely impressive across the entire album and along with the dense, at times dark arrangements, they give Reflected a depth that brings further rewards with repeated listens.

It may have taken nearly three decades for Central Park to really produce a work that stands tall and proud, but in Reflected they have come up with something refreshing and different, but more importantly something that enthrals and entertains.

Track Listing
1. Guns R Us
2. Free Fall
3. White Princess
4. Another Part
Visions Of Cassandra
5. Vision
6. Doom (Winterstorm)
7. Awakening
8. Path Of Mercy
9. The Last Tear

Added: January 28th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Central Park Official Web Site
Hits: 2528
Language: english

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