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Pymlico: Supermassive

Pymlico are a Norwegian prog/jazz-fusion act that formed back in 2009 and has seven albums to their credit, with Supermassive being their latest release for Apollon Records. Comprised of members who play keyboards, guitar, saxophone, bass, and drums, some additional musicians contribute extra guitars, trombone, trumpet, and keyboards. Featuring eight new compositions, Supermassive harkens back to the 1980's pop-jazz scene with a touch of prog and electronica thrown in for good measure, with songs like "Breaking Protocol" and "Confusion" bringing to mind The Rippingtons, Chick Corea Elektric Band, Special EFX, and Spyro Gyra, for a certain 'GRP Records' feel. Guitar work throughout has a certain David Gilmour meets Ruff Freeman feel, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and while some of the drum sounds sound a tad too electronic in spots for my taste, overall, the musicianship is stellar throughout, with other highlights being the excellent "Clockwork," the funky "Little Nellie," and the highly melodic & sumptuous "WTG," which features some tasty guitar soloing and layers of dreamy keyboards.

All in all, Supermassive is a highly listenable album from Pymlico, and though it won't change the face of instrumental prog/fusion music, the songs are memorable, the playing top-notch, and that's a plus in my book.

Track Listing
1) Breaking Protocol
2) Confusion
3) Clockwork
4) Are We There Yet?
5) Time Out
6) Little Nellie
7) Doppelmayr
8) WTG

Added: September 21st 2022
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 616
Language: english

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Pymlico: Supermassive
Posted by Eric Porter, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-09-21 19:01:27
My Score:

Pymlico is an instrumental band from Norway, and are self-described as a mix of prog and fusion. The band offer up nice melodies wrapped in a friendly, if somewhat "easy listening" package. "Breaking Protocol" opens the album, and I find myself enjoying the interplay between the guitar and horns. The track gets its mood from the atmospheric keys, and there are some catchy melodies. I found myself wanting the ending guitar solo to go on longer than it does, as it felt like the band was hitting their stride. "Confusion" maintains the pace with upfront guitar, horns and atmospheric keys. The influence of electronica makes its presence felt in the spacey mid-section of the track. The tasty lead work is reminiscent of David Gilmour, although the organ is buried in the background; the solo section is quite enjoyable. "Clockwork" combines some heavier rhythm guitar, and features the saxophone taking the leads here. "Are We There Yet" gives us another nice melody to latch onto along with more guitar, while "Time Out" gets a bit too close to fuzak even with the nice guitar break and horn work. The band gives you brief glimpses of what they can do, like in "Little Nellie", which has some cool runs and a bit of aggression, but then they fall back into safe mode. Don't get me wrong, it is important to bring in various elements and influences, but, there is a bit too much atmosphere and not enough going for broke.

Supermassive is well played and produced offering various influences, but it comes off rather safe to my ears. I want more fire, yet Pymlico seem to stay in the slow lane, they need to hit the gas pedal more often and rev that engine.

Pymlico: Supermassive
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-07-30 14:10:58
My Score:

I had to go back and check one of my own reviews before writing this one for Supermassive, the seventh album from Sweden’s Pymlico. The reason being that I described the band’s 2014 album Guiding Light as an excellent progressive rock album - admittedly infused with brass - with hints of Marillion, the synth swathes of Vangelis and in the end, a little like Joe Satriani gone prog. Now, it’s taken me to re-read my own words to suddenly have things kick back in place because Supermassive is a much different beast - and yet, in structure, the more playful side of Satriani still comes through here. Instrumental fare with some virtuoso flare is definitely the order of the day, guitarists Stephan Hvinden and Andreas Sjo Engen vying against saxophonist Robin Havem Løvøy for supremacy. The results are much more jazzy, much more fusion-light and much more, well, poppy than what I encountered before.

Back then the band was, in essence, a one-man operation, with Arild Brøter bringing in musicians to merely augment (admittedly in quite a strong fashion) his compositions, on which he played keys, drums and some acoustic guitar. Now, alongside the four already mentioned, Arild has scaled things back to handling drums and keyboards, with Oda Rydning (percussion) and Are Nerland (bass, additional keyboards and guitars) now making Pymlico a full on septet, and let’s not even get into the guest list that includes lap still and lead guitar, Rhodes, trombone, trumpet and more.

Without the distinctive band name, I have to admit that I wouldn’t even have recognised this outfit as the same one who recorded the previous album by them I’ve heard - there have been three in between - but then the first two releases under this name were described as ‘video game music’, so maybe the only constant in Pymlico is change? And why not, when the uplifting, bright, joyful, and decidedly Gilmour era Floyd like “Confusion” is quite the fun that it is?

It’s also not alone, “Clockwork” muscular and forceful in a light and airy kind of way, bulging riffs giving way to beautiful sax breaks and pleasantly smooth keys. Yes, that juxtaposition might, for many, be the stumbling point here, because there’s no doubting that Supermassive isn’t hard rock, pop, prog, or really fusion, while still being each and every one. Throw in the blues/jazz/fusion of “Little Nellie” and who the hell really knows what’s going on? Well, Pymlico do and they appear to be having an utterly great time no matter then end results. And I have too, while not always being 100% certain what mood or occasion this album is perfect for. The honest answer is probably none - exactly - but every single one - nearly.

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