Elephant Plaza: Momentum
Gilbert Marshall, a founding member of the Norwegian band Magic Pie who left after The Suffering Joy album in 2011, formed the band Elephant Plaza along with Espen Mikarlsen who has since left the band. The band came into existence in 2006 but its evolution has been slow due to Marshall's other band at the time. However, their debut album Momentum hit the shelves in June of this year. Besides Marshal (electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, lead vocals) and Mikarlsen (electric/acoustic rhythm and lead guitars) we have former Magic Pie member John Kamphaug (bass, vocals), Kim Christiansen (lead guitars, electric and acoustic guitars, vocals), Olav Rygg (drums, percussion, vocals), John Petter Saeterdal (keyboards, vocals) and Jan-Fredrik Heier (keyboards, vocals).
While the music is certainly progressive, I wouldn't call this full-fledged progressive rock in the style of Magic Pie although there are some similarities. Most notably the vocals. They are absolutely stunning, both lead and background harmonies. Musically speaking the musicianship is first class but these guys are not show offs. Tasteful guitar and keyboard work puts these tunes in the proggy modern rock category.
The album begins with "Naked" starting with tasty percussion and guitar supplemented with swelling keyboards. The tempo increases before the band's full sound is unleashed. The sound is quite proggy with catchy vocal lines and an overall classy modern rock vibe. A cool electronic soundscape begins "Southwest" with the mood edgier but the sound more gentle. The background harmonies are worth pointing out because they are really quite sublime. The keyboards are also prominent but not over the top. On "Paralyzed" refined acoustic guitar and the voice of Stephen Hawking stating "I certainly don't have the answer to all life's problems" lead quickly to heavier riffs and an excellent male/female vocal arrangement from Eirikur Hauksson and Anett Lunde. The song has a darker, moodier vibe which isn't surprising given the song's subject matter of the human condition. The five part title track ends the disc very strongly. In "Part 1 - Momentum" a marching drum beat gains in loudness before Pink Floyd-like lead guitar cuts through the soundscape. The synths also play a huge part here. More Floydy moments can be heard in "Part 2 Moments of Emotions" as the acoustic strumming definitely has that vibe. The string quartet of Ole Herman Huth, Maria Dahl, Helle Tennψe Andersen and Liv Frengstad also play a prominent role. In "Part 3 The Dream" the keyboard and orchestral build is almost ominous having a nightmarish tone at least at the start, hence the title. The soundscape becomes incredibly lush and the vocals are superb. "Part 4 Struggle Within" and "Part 5 Redemption" are more in t line with heavy prog and makes for an energetic conclusion.
Momentum is a superb piece of music, finely crafted and exquisitely detailed from a group of veteran musicians who are masters of their game. I can't wait to hear more in the coming years.
A Progress Records release.
1. Naked (4:47)
2. Southwest (4:51)
3. Paralyzed (7:16)
4. All The Way (7:12)
5. The Quested Page 1 Start It All Again (3:21)
6. The Quested Page -2 Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy (3:59)
7. The Human Race Prologue (1:31)
8. The Human Race (5:35)
9. Wishful Thinking (3:54)
10. Momentum Part 1 Momentum (2:59)
11. Momentum Part 2 Moments Of Emotions (7:08)
12. Momentum Part 3 The Dream (5:02)
13. Momentum Part 4 Struggle Within (1:48)
14. Momentum Part 5 Redemption (2:35)
Added: October 25th 2016
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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