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Persephone's Dream: Pan- An Urban Pastoral

Come - I'll Sing To You The Chaosong!

Persephone's Dream is a band that has been around for quite a while, but never was fully recognized until the release of this, their fifth studio full-length. With 17 years under their belt, the band has released one of the best progressive rock albums to come out so far in 2010. Pan: An Urban Pastoral not only immerses the listener with its wonderful atmosphere and beauty, it also manages to impress the listener with instrumental prowess, amazing songwriting feats, and a terrific lyrical concept to top it all off. Add in the fact that Persephone's Dream is one of the most unique and original modern symphonic progressive rock acts around, and you have everything that's needed to amaze prog fans. Needless to say, this is not an album that should fall of the radar of any prog rock listener.

One thing that really amazed me about Pan: An Urban Pastoral was the incredible amount of patience it took to appreciate. When I first heard the album, I honestly wasn't too impressed. Luckily, a good 7 listens proved my lukewarm first impressions completely false. Although the album can be incredibly hard to digest at first, it's all worth it in the end. What once came across as a drawn out, pompous, and inconsistent collection of songs soon became a terrific, unique, and beautiful conceptual work of art. Although a there are a few (albeit small) moments of weakness throughout the album, the vast majority of this work is nothing short of incredible. The 70's symphonic prog style that is utilized throughout this album really helps give Persephone's Dream a stable foundation, but avant garde, heavy rock, folk, and Celtic influences give the band their own sound in an often extremely derivative genre.

As I mentioned earlier, Pan: An Urban Pastoral is amazingly consistent for an album of almost 70 minutes. There are a few moments that have weak melodies (notably in "Nectar Of The Gods"), but when I say moments I really do mean moments. Although there is a weak melody or two in the aforementioned track, it doesn't last for very long and soon returns to more strong music. I' m going to refrain from mentioning any other tracks simply because I want to emphasize that this entire album NEEDS to be listened to as one big long song. The relatively short songs typically aren't great as standalones, but that definitely changes when you hear the entire concept from beginning to end!

The musicianship is great on Pan: An Urban Pastoral. All of the musicians definitely know what they're doing, and they do it exceptionally well! I especially have to applaud keyboardist Jim Waugaman for his keyboard talents, but also for his terrific vocal pipes. The frequent vocal tradeoffs between himself and Ashley Peer add a lot of variation into Persephone's Dream's music.

The production is really good, although a bit of an acquired taste. It's much more raw and unpolished than most modern prog is, but that's a good thing in my opinion. The over-produced sound of almost all modern prog bands is really starting to bother me, so it's great to hear a band like Persephone's Dream who isn't afraid to go against the norm. The production has a distinct 70's sound throughout the album.

Conclusion:

Pan: An Urban Pastoral is a fantastic 5th album by Persephone's Dream. After such a successful and enjoyable concept album, I simply cannot wait to hear where the band goes in the future. My rating will be 4 stars for a unique, enjoyable, and creative progressive rock release. If you like symphonic prog but not the really cheesy and derivative kind, I can't recommend this album enough!

(Originally Posted on ProgArchives.com)


Track Listing
1. Prelude (0:39)
2. Invocation (1:18)
3. Pan's Labyrinth (7:28)
4. Those Who Remember (3:42)
5. Chaosong (1:25)
6. Sidewalk Soliloquy (2:50)
7. Chaosong Reprise (1:31)
8. Denouement of a God (1:02)
9. Le Defile Satyrique (1:32)
10. Maenads, Melody and Meter (3:01)
11. Ubi Sunt (1:12)
12. The Seduction of Daphnis (4:59)
13. Nectar of the Gods (3:12)
14. Youth's Denial (1:16)
15: The Temptation of Icarus (2:14)
16. Selene Rising (2:03)
17. The Tears of Selene (9:31)
18. Erato's Pulse (11:06)
19. Silhouette (8:45)

Added: October 24th 2010
Reviewer: Jeff B
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2971
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Persephone's Dream: Pan- An Urban Pastoral
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-10-24 23:58:30
My Score:

Pan: An Urban Pastoral is one of the best albums I have heard in 2010 bar none. Trust me, this album is that good. First a little history of the band.

Persephone's Dream has been around since 1993 when guitarist Rowen Poole and bass player Chris Siegel got together in Pittsburgh, PA. Female vocalist Judilynn Neidercorn joined the duo and Persephone's Dream (named after a Greek myth) was born. The band has had quite a few lineup changes through the years and I was not familiar with the band until I heard Pyre of Dreams, released in 2007, which I enjoyed very much. The band's line-up includes Rowen Poole (6,7 and 12 string guitars, atmospheric synths), John Tallent (percussion, drums, bells, chimes, whistles, odd instruments), Jim Waugaman (piano, organ, Moog, Mellotron, synths, vocals), Scot Harvey (acoustic and electronic drums, vibes, percussion, vocals), Ashley Peer (vocals) and Roman Prokopenko (bass). Although the line-up is slightly different on the new album, it does not suffer because of it. In fact, Pan is a stronger effort than Pyre of Dreams, which I can tell you is no small feat as that is an excellent album as well.

I found the best way to enjoy this album is to totally immerse yourself in the music via a good pair of headphones. No distractions allows one to concentrate on the music and that is exactly what you will want to do when listening to this outstanding release. It is quite a good story and like any concept album worth its salt is worthwhile following along to. The introductory notes and lyrics will shed more light on the concept than I will do here but suffice to say the band put a lot of thought into it. The story involves a young man in the middle of a bustling city scape who suddenly finds himself in more natural surroundings. While in the forest he comes face to face with Pan (the Greek God for nature). This is a world of enlightenment and beauty and our protagonist is not sure if it real or just a dream. This is in direct contrast to the pollution filled city where the young man lives. It is a fascinating storyline and worth investing some time into.

This is quite a varied release as the band touches on folk, classical, ambient, eclectic and heavy prog, but it is mostly symphonic progressive rock that reminds me of those glorious days of the 70s. The music is laced with delicate pastoral passages and harder hitting riffs without venturing into progressive metal. Both guitar and keyboards are used extensively and plenty of vintage sounds can be found throughout. The album mixes both instrumental segments and vocal pieces and many songs are short segue ways into longer compositions. Sound effects are also used effectively often setting up a specific setting or mood. Both male and female vocalists do a fine job and don't overdue do it with excessive meanderings giving the instruments plenty of room to breathe. The transitions between the songs are very smooth so it is best to listen to the album as a whole as every part is important to the story and the overall experience.

Some of my favourites include the dramatic "Pan's Labyrinth" where moody guitar parts and airy keyboards intermix while drums and bass hold down the groove and the exotic sounding "Nectar of the Gods" where Eastern sounding backing vocals and foreboding synths provide just the right amount of dramatic tension. The album ends with the epic "Erato's Pulse", a complex track with outstanding vocals and stellar synths and the moody "Silhouette" a slightly funky song with a groovy bass line and keyboards giving it a darker edge.

This is superb stuff as Persephone's Dream is really coming into their own and the new album proves it. This is a complex, varied and melodic piece of work that should give progressive rock fans an abundance of enjoyment for years to come.




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