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Panic Room: Visionary Position

After the demise of British progressive folk band Karnataka a new band emerged. That band was Panic Room and this is their debut album Visionary Position. First off I would like to thank the band for generously sending me this copy to review. Having been impressed with their last album Satellite, reviewed on this site, I was very much looking forward to hearing this album and after the first listen I was quite enamored to say the least. I have had Visionary Position for a while now and it is one of those albums that takes a few listens to hear all the subtle nuances the music has to offer. I suppose you could label this as cross-over progressive rock with elements of pop, ambient, art rock, folk and jazz. Bands like Magenta, Mostly Autumn and of course Karnataka come to mind but Panic Room have their own sound that is fully realized with Visionary Position.

All the lyrics were handled by Anne-Marie Helder and she covers a wide range of topics mostly dealing with the human condition like love (Firefly), the dangerous predicament of the human race (Elektra City) and the beauty of life (Reborn).

"Elektra City" gets the ball rolling and its an excellent start to the album. The opening melodic guitar riff along with interesting effects and the processed vocals of Helder will get your attention. Listen closely to the background as there is a lot going on musically and the backing vocals are superb. Helder has got to have one of the best female voices in progressive rock today. The jazzy middle section of quiet keyboards, rippling bass, jazz flavoured drumming and lovely piano is gorgeous. The instruments come through crystal clear and are given the proper space to breathe. The stunning ten minute long "Endgame (Speed of Life)" begins with the sounds of breathing, lush keyboards and electronic effects that recalls Avalon era Roxy Music. Electric violin enters the fold, courtesy of Liz Prendergast and heavier atmospheric guitar riffs ensue with a subtle eastern theme. The guitar work of Paul Davies is one of the many highlights here and the layered vocals of Helder are something to behold. The heartwarming ballad "Firefly" features Davie's elegant guitar work and a pretty piano melody running through the course of the song which is a perfect match for Helder's emotional vocals.

One of my favourite songs is the eastern flavoured "Apocalypstick" where intriguing guitar pyrotechnics, electrifying violin and tasty Police-like rhythms combine with elements of jazz and folk making for one of the album's most progressive efforts. The song has a mysterious aura that is difficult to put into words. The album ending three part epic "The Dreaming" is an eighteen minute opus of folk inspired progginess. This is not a full out progressive track but it is tastefully executed filled with excellent piano playing, lush keyboard laden soundscapes and Helder's sultry vocals. The second part features only Helder's voice accompanied by piano and the last segment, separated by a moment of silence, has the band delving into World music and electronica.

Nothing more needs to be said about this wonderful debut effort. Panic Room are a class act and Visionary Position is hopefully the start of a long and successful career. Highly recommended!

Track Listing:
1. Elektra City
2. Endgame (Speed of Life)
3. Firefly
4. Reborn
5. Moon on the Water
6. Apocalypstick
7. I Wonder What's Keeping My True Love Tonight
8. The Dreaming

Added: June 16th 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1938
Language: english

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