Pictorial Wand - A Sleeper's Awakening

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Unicorn Digital
Catalog Number: UNCR-5027
Format: CD
Total Time: 112:11:00

Pictorial Wand is a symphonic progressive project started in 2003 by the Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and composer Mattis Sörum. It took Mattis no fewer than three years in order to fully explore this interesting epic. During this period he also finished his education in music at the Trondheim University. With the help of extra musicians and vocalists the amount of music which got composed encompassed the length of any "normal" CD resulting in an impressive debut which is smeared across two discs.

The album opens in sheer symphonic delight with the romantic flute in "Prologue," a track which is reminiscent of the best Thijs Van Leer (Focus) solo output. It makes way for the first piece of narration as A Sleeper's Awakening is indeed a concept album. The story is basically about a fictitious person (it could be you!), who wakes up after a long, deep look in the mirror and finally becomes aware of his/her mistakes and the bad and selfish way he/she has lived his/her life right until that very moment. In his/her dreams he/she starts on a journey to make up for the mistakes he/she has done. Along this journey we hear a little boy reading his moralistic stories which are a reflection of the main character's childhood and his very severe education by his mother.

With "The King & His Land Pt 1," Sörum gets closer to the feel of Ayreon. By using various singers to depict the different characters and by mixing lush symphonic textures with harder edged material the Ayreon comparison gets even closer. Also the mix between rough electric guitar and acoustic instruments such as cello, piano and flute adds to this. In "Envy Pt 1 - In Shadow" female vocals nicely blend together whilst the symphonic orchestra also slightly hides some folky elements.

The number of solos is rather restricted both in quantity and in length so as not to interfere with the total concept. In fact every single note is played in function of the entire concept so that the most ideal atmosphere can be created in order to depict the story. However when a solo is executed it is top notch as is illustrated in "Envy Pt 2 - Broken Glass," where the uptempo song delivers some fabulous synth playing underlined with the symphonic orchestra sounds. This symphonic texture is executed to the fullest during "Wrath Pt 2 - A Wandering In The Dark," where cello and flute meet in woods governed by violins resulting in the most classical sounding piece of the 2CD set. The second part of this track, "The Beast Within" contains quite a contrast as it also houses some creepy grunts.

The second disc opens with the kind of ballad you could easily expect on an album by Pain of Salvation delivering yet another strong melody. The synergy of piano and marimba sounds works rather well in the lengthy "Sloth Pt 2 - Red Sunset & A Drowning Fly" giving way to yet another hard rocking guitar intervention. The mainly acoustic approach in "Greed Pt 1 - The Golden Path" delivers a warm medieval feel, whilst "Pt 2" contains the drive and spirit that can be found with Mostly Autumn. I would have loved to hear the organ go over the top, which sadly it doesn't. Instead the song steers towards a classical ending filled with cello, oboe and bombastic symphonic horns. The oboe plays a rather important role in both parts of "Lust." In Peter And The Wolf fashion it blends nicely with the symphonic orchestration of "The Temptress Of Unchastity" which soon evolves into a direct rock structure. Again I would have liked the organ to sound much rougher, much wilder, more true rockin' if you like. The female voices nicely contrast with the powerful vocals of main singer Petter Selliseth. Harpsichord ends this album in style with "The King And His Land Pt 2 - Pensiveness," where the main character sits down and looks back at the entire event. Solemn organ ends both track and album although the perfect ending to me would have been the same melody yet played on a real church organ.

Pictorial Wand simply is the Norwegian Ayreon blended with a softer version of Royal Hunt meets Rhapsody including some authentic AOR hooks to add to the melodic nature of some of the arrangements. The only criticism I have is the fact that the sleeve and the project's logo look too much like pure heavy metal to me so maybe some people will judge this work by its cover and thus have the wrong idea about what to expect. Nevertheless I can only congratulate Mattis Sörum with this fantastic result and regret not having known the guy a little sooner, for I'm dead certain my very own album If Only Stones Could Speak would have sounded exactly the way I heard it should I have had the opportunity to work with this guy! Although the name for the project, Pictorial Wand, has no commercial ring to it I'm convinced A Sleeper's Awakening is the first in a long series of quality products by this new found Norwegian genius : Mattis Sörum. Well done!

Disc One: Prologue / The King And His Land Part 1 / The Gate Of Lost Souls / Pride - The Path Of Thorns / Envy Pt 1 - In Shadow / Envy Pt 2 - Broken Glass / Wrath Pt 1 - A Wandering In The Dark / Wrath Pt 2 - The Beast Within / Gluttony - Corrosion Of Flesh

Disc Two: Sloth Pt 1 - Retrospective Visions / Sloth Pt 2 - Red Sunset & A Drowning Fly / Greed Pt 1 - The Golden Path / Greed Pt 2 - Warning Not Heard / Lust Pt 1 - The Temptress Of Unchastity / Lust Pt 2 - A Sleeper's Awakening / The King & His Land Pt 2 - Pensiveness

Mattis S?rum - electric and acoustic guitars, el-sitar, organs, keyboards
Tomas di Sansimone - drums
Idar Eidsaune - bass
Paal Selsjord Bj?rseth - piano, organ, harpsichord
Per Christian J?rstad - cello
Synne Teiseth Norbeck - flute
Staale Storl?kken - synth solo
Sigrid Inderberg - flute
Hanna Haugan - cello

Featuring the voices of: Petter Selliseth, Ingrid Strid, Lise Granden Berg, Gry Tonslien, Eva Marianne Olsson, Stian Lekness, Martin Adams Kvam, Nina Utbj?r Guldal

A Sleeper's Awakening (2006)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin NO

Added: May 21st 2006
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.pictorialwand.com
Hits: 1188
Language: english


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