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Elf Project: Mirage

Elf Project is the product of multi-instrumentalist Carl Schultz, who, along with an assortment of guest musicians, has put together this brand new release titled Mirage. Sort of a mix of progressive rock, pop, and psychedelic rock, Mirage does owe a bit to the classic 60's and 70's music scene, but there's a strong early/mid 90's prog influence here as well, reminding of a time when unknown bands were popping up all over the place on little labels such as Kinesis, Cyclops, Magna Carta, InsideOut, and The Lasers Edge.

Schultz covers the bulk of the instrumentation here, lending his vocals, bass, keyboard, guitar, and other assorted musical talents, though he is helped out on drums, guitar solos, flute, and additional keyboards & backing vocals by some guests, giving this CD a pretty full band sound at times. The songs range from upbeat, melodic prog numbers, such as "Lessons", to blistering hard rockers like "Serene" and "The Road of Change", to more atmospheric, proggy/psych tunes like the lush "Jackhammer" and the pastoral cover of "Norwegian Wood". I also detected a slight Rush influence on "The Go Between", and the acoustic "Carolan's Welcome" will please fans of the more folky Opeth material. "Shine a Light" is pure catchy pop, and the Genesis flavored instrumental "Witchcraft" contains some splendid bass grooves and spacey keys from Schultz, but the real corker for many will be the closing epic "Whisper the Memory of Old", a strong Camel/Genesis/Jade Warrior styled number with gentle flute, melodic guitar lines, soothing keys, and plenty of nature sounds.

This is some fun material, but I will be honest and say that I was a tad torn as to whether I prefer this outfit as a dramatic instrumental prog act or as a more poppy vocal oriented rock band. Elf Project do both styles very well, and I'm thinking if Schultz decides to continue on with this project, once he forms a solid band (perhaps with some of the splendid musicians on display here) their sound might very well go down one path or the other. For now, Mirage contains some well constructed prog, some catchy pop, and some powerful hard rock/psychedelia.

Track Listing
1. Lessons
2. The Road Of Change
3. Serene
4. Jackhammer
5. The Go Between
6. Witchcraft
7. Norwegian Wood
8. Carolan's Welcome
9. Shine A Light
10. Whisper The Memory Of Old

Added: August 10th 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: 10T Records
Hits: 3702
Language: english

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Elf Project: Mirage
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-08-10 01:33:47
My Score:

Hailing from the greater New York area, the Elf Project is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Carl Schultz. He is joined by other artists ensuring this never feels like a one man band. Indeed, their sound is rich and full with tons of melody to spare. This is feel good progressive rock that borders on pop and rock. The result is pure ear candy, and I mean that has a compliment. The music surely has a 70s influence but also a nod to 60s psychedelia can be heard. Many of the songs have a Middle Eastern edge, although it is often quite subtle and understated. Songwriting is definitely emphasized and strong hooks are found throughout. Schultz has a very good voice and many of the songs feature layered vocals which adds to the fullness of the sound.

Starting with the melodic progressive rock of "Lessons", this one should appeal to many fans of the genre. The hooks keep on coming with the hard driving"The Road Of Chance" with its vintage keys and a 60s psychedelic approach. The darker tinged "Serene" is filled with synths and a sinuous guitar line weaving its way throughout. The guitar is heavier here giving the song more of a bite. Check out the superb bass in the instrumental "Jackhammer" along with a vintage synth sound and stabbing chords of rhythm guitar. One of the nicest surprises is a gorgeous rendition of the Beatle's classic "Norwegian Wood" which stays quite true to the original, perhaps adding more of an Eastern vibe. More acoustic guitar dominates the poignant "Carolan's Welcome" another instrumental of exceptional quality. Perhaps the nicest vocal harmonies can be found in the uplifting "Shine a Light", again paying homage to a bygone era when music seemed to be more innocent. The album ends with the ten minute "Whisper The Memory Of Old". Washes of synths and lush keyboards create a laid back relaxing sound that is quite different than the previous nine tunes. A fine way to end a very good album.

If given a chance this album should really turn some heads, particularly those who appreciate plenty of melody in their progressive rock diet. Their fresh take on vintage sounds should appeal to many of our readers and comes highly recommended from this reviewer.

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