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.
2. The Road Of Change
5. The Go Between
7. Norwegian Wood
8. Carolan's Welcome
9. Shine A Light
10. Whisper The Memory Of Old