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Nektar: Time Machine

"The best album Nektar has ever made!" proclaims founding member, guitarist, and vocalist Roye Albrighton of their first album of new material in four years, titled Time Machine. Well, for a band that has created such legendary classics as Remember the Future, A Tab in the Ocean, Sounds Like This, Down to Earth, and Recycled, those are some pretty lofty expectations to set for your fans. The thing is, Time Machine is a pretty damn good Nektar album, though calling it their 'best ever' is truly a stretch, but as a release of all new material here in 2013, there's a lot to like about it.

Joining Albrighton is founding drummer Ron Howden, keyboard player Klaus Henatsch, and bassist Billy Sherwood (ex-Yes), though it looks like he just filled in for the album and new bassist Lux Vibratus is now in the fold. The material is a mix of classic Nektar styled progressive rock & psychedelia, as well as some melodic pop. The latter styled pieces stick out like a sore thumb here, and though tracks like the Caribbean themed "Set Me Free, Amigo" and the breezy pop of "Mocking the Moon" and "Talk To Me" are fine songs for what they are, most fans don't flock to a Nektar album to hear pop music. The meat and potatoes of the album happen to be the songs where the band does what they do best. "A Better Way" is epic, symphonic, rocking Nektar at their very best, complete with Albrighton's wailing guitar and loads of vintage sounding keyboards, while the lush acoustic guitar & keyboards of the dreamy "Destiny" shows a different side to Nektar, but a totally intoxicating one, with hooks that grab you instantly. Upbeat prog-rocker "If Only I Could" reminds a little of late '70s Genesis, with Albrighton's vocals even hinting at Phil Collins a tad, and the wonderful title track combines dreamy musical soundscapes with an ultra catchy chorus. Roye's yearning guitar provides plenty of emotion on the soaring "Tranquility", which not only hints and classic mid-70s Nektar but also Genesis and Camel, and also features some sensational keyboards from Henatsch. The very fine "Juggernaut" is a killer instrumental that has elements of jazz-fusion, with Howden & Sherwood completely locked in underneath some sizzling electric piano & synths from Henatsch and Albrighton's melodic guitar lines. The longest track on the album, "Diamond Eyes", also closes things out, and in fine fashion I might add. Complete with mysterious lyrics, a catchy chorus, and symphonic arrangements (love the Hammond organ!), this is another strong cut on a very solid album.

So, as long as you don't have unrealistic expectations that Time Machine is the best Nektar album of all time (sorry Roye, have to disagree with you there), it's easy to enjoy it for the very solid release that it is. Whether it's better than the post-reunion albums Evolution or Book of Days will be up to you, but if you liked both of those then I'm sure you'll have a really good time with this one as well. Hey, in the end, let's just be glad that Nektar is still making viable, fun progressive rock at this stage of the game. Keep it coming guys!

Track Listing
1) A Better Way
2) Set Me Free, Amigo
3) Destiny
4) If Only I Could
5) Time Machine
6) Tranquility
7) Mocking the Moon
8) Talk to Me
9) Juggernaut
10) Diamond Eyes

Added: August 17th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3938
Language: english

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Nektar: Time Machine
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-08-16 19:44:05
My Score:

As my learned colleague has alluded to above, slapping a sticker on the front of your new CD, and first for four years of all new material, proclaiming it to be your best work, is dangerous. Especially when your last release is a dodgy collection of uninspired cover versions and your band has been rightly lauded for releasing genuinely classic Prog/Psych albums in years gone by. Nektar find themselves in precisely that position with their leader and singer Roye Albrighton stating exactly that on the front of Time Machine, a release which in honesty falls some way short of those accolades, while still being a welcome and worthy piece of work. The album's title track for example is pretty special, with a strong building verse positively exploding into a memorable chorus that hits you every time through washes of psychedelic power and a hint of proggy wistfulness. Add to that the soothing yet insistent tones of "A Better Way", which sets the album up superbly through an eerie spoken word section, and the surging push of "Juggernaut" and there really is much to sit back, zone out and enjoy here.

However when you have to weigh these unmitigated successes against twee soft rock filler material like "Set Me Free Amigo", "Talk To Me" and "Mocking The Moon", then calling Time Machine the complete package, or real deal would be over egging things somewhat. That said the good does outweigh the bad, "Diamond Eyes" having you dancing a merry jig (even if it is a bit similar in places to the album's title track), while "Tranquility" weaves and winds impressively, all the while Albrighton giving a thoroughly years rolling back vocal display. He's also ably backed by original drummer Ron Howden and keyboard player Klaus Hentasch, while new bassist Lux Vibratus would appear to have joined up too late to contribute to the album, recent collaborator Billy Sherwood handling four string duties. The ex-Yes man also co-mixes the album with Albrighton and engineers the record. Thankfully his endeavours behind the desk are far more engaging than his efforts on the recent Nektar covers album A Spoonful Of Time, which completely lacked any of the energy and vibrancy which infuses the best moments here.

In the cold light of day, Time Machine is far from Nektar's best moment, however after a recent stop start career, that the band are producing new music at all is reason to celebrate. That around two thirds of it is genuinely interesting and engaging is reasonably impressive, it is just a shame that the final third really adds nothing of note to an album that could have been so much more.

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