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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: July 30th 2022
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 121
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

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.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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