|Parzivals Eye: Fragments
Posted by Alex Torres, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-09-21 12:01:51
Parzivals Eye is the band name for RPWL bassist Chris Postl's solo project. He teams up with vocalists Christina Booth (Magenta) and Alan Reed (Pallas), as well as guitarist Ian Bairnson (Alan Parsons Project). The music is close enough to that of RPWL for fans of the band to enjoy the album to some degree: exactly how much depends on whether they angle more towards the progressive or the commercial, AOR, side of music.
On balance, I would say that Fragments leans more towards AOR than progressive. It's a long album, coming in at over an hour even without the bonus track (a cover of RPWL's "Another Day"); but it seems to me to be divided into two halves. The first half, all the way through to and including "Skylights", is "progressive", with the compositional structure being typically more complex. From "Disguise" onwards – and noting that "Chicago" is actually a cover version (and, it so happens, courtesy of Christina's beautiful vocal, a rather stunning one!) of a Graham Nash song - I noted a tendency for simpler structures and the feel on this latter half was of well-constructed AOR.
Interestingly, I prefer the latter, "tending-to-AOR" half of the album; the simplicity seeming to free up the composition of melody and catchy rhythm, so that Postl delivers a sequence of very impressive songs, culminating in "Wide World", which is totally gorgeous.
The first, more progressive, half of the album is marked by some stunningly beautiful passages and instrumentation use – for instance, picking out a couple of moments from quite a few highlights, the melodic symphonic passages on "Longings End" and the mellotron on "Fragments" – but the flow of this musical joy is interrupted by changes of tempo and mood that don't really add value musically; almost as if Postl has felt the need to do something different because this is "progressive"; it's prog-rock "by numbers". It is when he is freed of those constraints that the second half of the album opens up like a flower.
So, there are some fine moments in the opening section without the "album-feel" ever developing, but from "Disguise" onwards there is a consistency of compositional approach that, although not as progressive, is altogether more pleasing.
Overall, fans of RPWL's music will find plenty here to enjoy whilst they wait for another album from their heroes.