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Space Odyssey: The Astral Episode

If you appreciate classical music as the highest form of the art, you'll love Richard Andersson's new Space Odyssey record The Astral Episode.

Andersson makes no secret of the fact that he has often used Paganini and Bach themes in his songs, and there's no escaping the pure classical overtones on this record. The Bach influences are all over this one - listen to the flying keyboard arpeggios interlaced with intricate guitar work and you'll quickly be drawn into the melodic brilliance of this music. There are dozens of excellent keyboard players and guitarists out there who can play just as fast as Andersson and Magnus Nilsson - but few manage to impart the pure melodic quality these two achieve. Percussion is by 17 year-old prodigy Andreas Brobjer who delivers a remarkably mature performance.

One puzzling element is what the difference is between Andersson's Space Odyssey and Time Requiem projects. They have different singers and Space Odyssey seems to focus on sci-fi themes, but the style of the music is essentially the same and - as memory serves - at least two songs on this CD pick up directly from those on Time Requiem's brilliant Inner Circle Of Reality.

Nils Patrik Johansson, on loan from Danish power metal band Wuthering Heights, delivers a wonderful vocal performance with his gutsy high-pitched but never-falsetto style of singing that suits the music well. There are some deeply emotional sounding pieces - although we can't say how the lyrics suit this delivery since we did not receive the CD inserts or cover art. Johansson's singing lends the record a dark, powerful atmosphere, yet it doesn't dominate. There are long high-energy instrumental sections that seem to develop endlessly yet never stray from the original theme. The complexity is in the instrumentation, and the vocal sections are essentially straightforward. For example "Lord Of The Winds" is fairly simplistic with a vocal melody reminiscent of a simpler era of hard rock - but when the long instrumental solos break in, we're back in prog heaven. The guitar solos in "Dazzle The Devil" will dazzle you too, and listen to the instrumental interplay on the title track. "The Seventh Star Fantasy" sounds as if it could have been lifted from a Star One or an Ayreon CD - and is somewhat different from the rest of the songs on the album. Simpler, less flashy, with stronger and simpler melodies sung in a duet a la the Electric Castle.

File this one in the Symphony X, Uli John Roth, Royal Hunt and Yngwie Malmsteen section of your collection. You know - those bombastic neo-classical pieces that are music-for-musicians and for the intelligecia in the progressive metal fanbase. And regardless of whether you consider yourself a musician or an intellect, you will both and hate this CD because after it stops playing those melodies, the ballsy singing and especially the virtuoso trills and arpeggios will play on in your mind for hours and hours.

Added: September 28th 2005
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Richard Andersson's Web Site
Hits: 3391
Language: english

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