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OVRFWRD: Occupations Of Uninhabited Space

With an all new album slated for later this year, now seems as good a time as any to catch up with the early work of Minnesota’s OVRFWRD, an instrumental progressive quartet that have made some serious waves with their first two offerings, Beyond The Visible Light and Fantasy Absent Reason. Now if that sounds intriguing, yet you’re unsure whether to take the plunge, let me point you in the direction of the live in the studio DVD/Bluray (of which I’ve only heard the audio) Occupations Of Uninhabited Space. Pulling material from both of the band’s albums so far and adding some new cuts, and an unexpected cover, this eight track outing proves exceptional in execution and engaging in content. That this level of virtuosity has been captured live tells you all you need to know about the four piece of Kyle Lund (bass), Rikki Davenport (drums and percussion), Chris Malmgren (keyboards) and Mark Ilaug. These guys are serious, they’re talented and yet they also know how to craft complex music that isn’t so dazzlingly dripping with clever-cleverness that you feel left on the outside looking in. No, not here, for OVRFWRD place you right slap bang in the centre of their organised maelstrom.

Personally, I find the vibe and energy in these recordings quite irresistible and while I enjoyed this band’s previous album without ever being completely blown away, here things click into place in a different manner entirely. Busy yet relaxed, precise yet loose, boisterous yet contained, everyone gets a chance to shine in OVRFWRD, but all four protagonists also understand they are much more powerful as a collective. “Utopia Planitia” is possibly the strongest example, each instrument allowed to take a step forward for a period and dominate proceedings, without any of the chaps playing those instruments abusing that opportunity. With a deep foreboding heart, the drama built as this 8 minute workout heads towards conclusion is quite breathtaking, but never overbearing, while the intricate mood and tempo alterations that drive “Raviji” through numerous swooping changes simply pick you up and take you along with them.

My least favourite piece from Fantasy Absent Reason, “Brother Jack McDuff” makes a reappearance and while it still rolls in as a track that I struggle to engage with, here the vigour and energy it comes with makes it a much more enticing proposition. However, for me, the opening charge of “Mother Tongue” and closing “Stones Of Temperance” are the two most progressive, most jazzy, most metallic, most, well… just most, tracks on show. If this pair don’t set your heart racing, then I’m not sure what will. Add in a surprise cover of the early Iron Maiden (yes, Iron Maiden!) classic, “Genghis Khan”, which suddenly makes a different side to this band very clear indeed and Occupations Of Uninhabited Space is a complete triumph.

No band employing instrumental, technical progressive rock as its chosen weapon will ever gain universal acclaim, but it really is amazing how accessible, yet how dextrously impressive this live in the studio offering is. If OVRFWRD can recreate the powder keg of excitement this album contains with their next studio outing, then it’s going to be something pretty special.

Track Listing
1. Mother Tongue
2. Raviji
3. Brother Jack McDuff
4. Forbidden Valley Opiate
5. Utopia Planitia
6. Can We Keep the Elephant
7. Genghis Khan
8. Stones Of Temperance

Added: May 7th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Occupations Of Uninhabited Space at bandcamp
Hits: 1127
Language: english

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