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Purposeful Porpoise: Purposeful Porpoise

You may not know Alex Cora but there's a good chance you'll be well acquainted with some, if not all, of those this guitarist, vocalist and song writer has brought around him to become the enigmatically named Purposeful Porpoise. Boasting Vinnie Colaiuta (Zappa and too many others to mention) on drums, Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Black Country Communion) on keyboards, Ric Fierabracci (Chick Corea, Dave Weckl) on bass and Ginny Luke (Meat Loaf, Dave Matthews) on violin, there's no denying the chops on show. Thankfully Cora is up to the standard with both his guitar playing and his song writing.

Too long for a single disc, at not much over 80 minutes, this self titled debut makes for a short double CD experience, where three lengthy numbers make up the first half, and five shorter excursions the second. Unsurprisingly given the grand nature of this undertaking, we're in conceptual territory here, and while a good proportion of this Purposeful Porpoise is instrumental, we are talking convoluted, involved sci-fi conceptual territory at that. Tales of the Nommo race, their world under threat, a quest to retrieve the fulcrum of their ecosystem and the complacency shown to allow the threat in the first place, a thin disguise for a comment on the world we know and despair at. Hardly the most original of topics, the themes are handled well and explored in a fast paced, filmic manner that complements the exuberant 70s inspired prog perfectly.

Musically we're in the realms of early Genesis ramped up to the max, via a more modern, everything and the kitchen sink prog ethos. There's no holding back, the main protagonists encouraged to let their slick licks fly, as this album was recorded live in the studio. Yes, the musicians here, big names though they are, all actually got together and recorded in the same studio for this album! Kudos to Mr Cora and his compositions that he and they had the power to make it all happen. And it pays off massively, opener "Crossing Into The Unknown" containing such a live feel that you almost expect to hear applause, whoops and cheers as its 20 minutes plus draws to a close. With Luke's violin taking much of the lead, it's hard not to suggest Kansas looms large over much of this album and yet while there are some simple, straight ahead passages, the complexity of what's on offer provides another vibe altogether. "The Air Pirates" finds the band letting it all hang out, the instrumental track giving ample space for guitar solos, keyboard crashes and violin violations, as Colaiuta gets ultra busy with the sticks. It's a lot to take in, yet amazingly accessible at the same time.

Cora and Luke do provide some vocals across the album, yet it is guest singers, Colette Von and David Kirsh who help raise "Crossing..." to unexpected heights and Luke Tierney who does likewise to "Which Way Is Up", the story's conclusion. In between, shorter tracks such as "iPhone" (one of the more blatant current world commentaries) and "Serena Song" dance and delight, although there's no doubt that the longer formats allow the "band members" more freedom of expression. However with a good mix of the two styles found across the two discs, a good, if not quite perfect balance is found between the "workouts" and the "songs", allowing technicians and those looking for more obvious entertainment to be equally satisfied.

With Purposeful Porpoise, Alex Cora created a mammoth task for himself. With a debut album which reaches and maintains the impressive standard it does, the real mammoth task is how on Earth or indeed the planet Nommos does he follow it?

Track Listing
1. Crossing Into The Unknown
2. The Air Pirates
3. Unexplained
4. iPhones
5. Lost
6. Serena's Song
7. Nowhere Bound
8. Which Way Is Up
9. Cycles

Added: May 30th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Purposeful Porpoise online
Hits: 1901
Language: english

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