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RPWL Beyond Man And Time Gentle Art Of Music (2012)


Let me begin by saying that RPWL are one of the finest progressive rock bands around at the moment and their back catalogue would induce envy in any band with progressive leanings - their previous two outings 'The Gentle Art Of Music' and 'The RPWL Experience' were both superb: cutting edge neo-prog at its finest.

And so is this. 'Beyond Man And Time' is as good as it gets musically, with great song structures, strong vocals and stellar musicianship throughout.

However - and you could probably sense that word was coming - if there's one thing that really gets on my tits it's bands pushing themselves forward as having all the answers to life's deepest imponderables. It's like Woody Guthrie's guitar having 'this guitar kills fascists' scrawled on it - no it doesn't (unless you smash your local Nazi in the face with it).

Thus it is here. The album is being marketed as (deep breath) a concept album - 'a musical journey through the world outside Platon's cave'. The goal, apparently, is to 'open eyes, look further, see more and see differently'.

What? You're musicians. You're not Nietzsche. You're not Kant. If we feel the need for spiritual nourishment we'll dive into the deep waters of true philosophers thanks very much. This may well have been a cathartic experience for the band - to the rest of us it's just pretentious.

Right, rant out of the way, so is it any good? Well, if you can put the cod philosophy to one side, it's absolutely the dog's bollocks musically. The ebb and flow, the light and shade, the flippant and the profound all battle for supremacy in a grab-bag of brilliance that hooks you in from the opening bars of 'Transformed' to the dying embers of 'The Noon'.

The use of Eastern instruments is quite striking, especially on the 16 minute epic 'The Fisherman' - Moog Soli, Sitar and tabla sit well with modern instrumentation and searing guitar solos to produce a melting pot of cultures that propels the track to the album's jewel in the crown.

Taken singularly as a piece of music, RPWL have excelled here and produced an outstanding piece of work that could sit comfortably alongside many great albums from prog's long lineage.

PS. Apparently, there's a Special Edition available that includes an audio book that connects the music to the philosophy together with a topographical map of the 'new world to be explored'. I would suggest that if you feel the need to get the Special Edition you really ought to get out more.

***** for the music

* for the philosophy

Review by Alan Jones


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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