Brother Ape - Shangri-La

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Progress Records
Catalog Number: PRCD020
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:57:00

The medieval sounding acoustic guitar in the opening section of "New Shangri-la" is but a teaser as the band soon kicks off in true IQ style delivering a decent amount of power and enthusiasm. The melody is ever so strong it really grabs all of your attention. This is exactly how the current wave of prog should sound: fresh, vital, young and without any compromise! The battle between two guitars is simply awesome and fits ever so well within the total picture of both song and band. Together with the band, producer and label boss Hansi Cross has yet again done a wonderful job as you can hear from the pumping drums and great bass sound in the intro for "Lunatic Kingdom." As opposed to the band's debut album, the line-up on this new album is one member short. It's like you have CSNY and Neil Young has left the band in order to leave CSN for the time being. In fact talking of CSN just have a listen to the acoustic "Umbrellas" where harmony vocals lift the song to the kind of original heights we encountered when listening to the Woodstock giants so many moons ago! Wonderful song with splendid Steve Hackett guitars yet maybe a little on the short side to feature on daytime radio. "Inside You" could well be the kind of material Budgie might have delivered should they have chosen the path of AOR.

With the rather repetitive nature of "Beams," our trio gets close to the feel of Rush. Throughout this album Stefan Damicolas illustrates what a fine guitar player he really is. The guitar solo during "Inside You" even leans towards fusion neatly backed by Gunnar and Max giving it the texture it really needs to perfectly fit the needs of this new album. Later on also the short "Tweakhead" and the typical Swedish entitled "Meatball Tour" fit in the fusion mould. More vocal brilliance in the slightly gothic inspired "Monasteries Of Meteora." Maybe the use of a real choir might have done more to this idea? The guitar however sounds very laidback and reminds me of French movies during the sixties. More relaxing music based around piano and acoustic guitar is delivered in the short "A Reason To Wake" where I once again note some wonderful fretless bass. The acoustic nature of "Timeless For The Time Being" contains much of the atmosphere you discover in Anthony Phillips' work. However, towards the end, the song evolves into more of a rock pattern to fit in nicely with the complete album. Like working with musical bookends the album closes with the main theme from the opening track. In between those elements you are taken on an incredible journey through fantastic compositions and arrangements.

Shangri-la is a more mature album than the On The Other Side debut album, yet also a very varied album which takes you from rocking patches to fusion elements by means of splendid ballads. It surely confirms the quality of the band in terms of songs and technical skills. Compared to the debut album, the band has lost its bass player and is now restricted to the trio format. In the recording studio this hasn't prevented them from recording some ace material, so the only need for a fourth member to complete the band would merely be for live purposes. As a trio or quartet I'm convinced the name of Brother Ape is already noted in many notebooks, laptops and above all ? minds! No doubt one of this year's best albums so far.

New Shangri-La (6:03) / Lunatic Kingdom (6:01) / Umbrellas (2:13) / Inside You (5:11) / Beams (6:38) / Monasteries Of Meteora (4:32) / I/'ll Be Going (5:48) / Tweakhead (2:05) / A Reason To Wake (3:11) / Meatball Tour (5:43) / Timeless For The Time Being (7:45) / Shangri-La (2:35)

Max Bergman - drums, percussion
Stefan Damicolas - electric and acoustic guitars, lead & harmony vocals
Gunnar Max?n - keyboards, harmony vocals, bass

On The Other Side (2004)
Shangri-La (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: July 30th 2006
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 2532
Language: english


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