Magic Pie - Motions Of Desire

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Progress Records
Catalog Number: PRCD 015
Format: CD
Total Time: 74:58:00

What's in this concoction called a Magic Pie? Well, you might guess that something funny might have been thrown in with the medley of ingredients, something illicit and yet something that makes you feel good. Feel good, yes; but it's not psychedelics though, not in this magic pie. This pie derives its magic from bringing together tasty morsels that we all love ... now, if veggies are your thing, think carrots and celery and chicken and potatoes (or whatever else makes up a chicken pot pie); if fruit, think apples and raspberries and blueberries (or your variety of fruits of choice). Only, in this case, the admixture is not truly organic, but rather symbolic ... as Magic Pie clearly state that they hoped to bake together the textures of 70s prog with textures of modern prog. And so they took the best bits of all that, mixed it together, cooked it till the pastry was just browned and served it up in slices of varying sizes ranging from 20-plus at the largest, and 3-plus minutes at the smallest. The best part, it's got all the flavor without all the sugar. Yum.

Magic Pie are from Norway but they might as well be from Pennsylvania (isn't everyone?), for they sound decidedly American. In fact, let me peel off a few bands right now that I hear: Echolyn, Spock's Beard and Project814 (though I'll grant that the last is probably just me, but that's what I hear in the peppy rocker "Without Knowing Why"). And yet, peel back the crust and there's also a handful of imported flavors - The Flower Kings, Marillion, Pendragon and Big Country (yes, the latter may just be me, too, but at times vocalist Eirick Hansen sounds like the late Stuart Adamson, most especially in the title track "Motions Of Desire") I should also say that MP sound like Kansas ... a bit... in "Without..." especially in the instrumental section. Where TFK come in is in the prominence of guitar and keyboards, especially in the opening slice "Change," which does change, from strident, classically epic FK styled-prog, to smooth harmonized vocals that will stick in your brain for some time (and has in mine actually), to about halfway through, it changes into jazz territory, lead by the guitar playing of and the organ work of... which soon ignites into a fiery fusion workout full of guitar and piano.

I mentioned Echolyn, but the comparison is mostly about a certain American sensibility (as in senses, sound, style, not that Americans are, in any way, sensible people... Okay, some are, but not all). It's not quite the Americana of Cowboy Poems Free... actually, you'd have to look a bit earlier and later in the Echolyn oeuvre. It comes in some of the vocal style, which I guess hark back also to Gentle Giant, but with a modern-times bravado (again cf. SB). The warm and fuzzy harmonized choruses tap into... well... coincidentally, some of the same wells as Umphrey's McGee*. And before you think I'm going to utter the "dreaded" n-word (the three letter one that is usually followed by prog), no, I wouldn't say that MP are ahem..."neo"... even if I did mention Marillion and Pendragon... actually, it's just that I hear briefly these two bands mainly in the guitar, which is stylistically like Rothery/Barrett, but not tonally, and perhaps a little brighter and lighter in tone, especially in the parpy keyboards.

MP really kick out the jams in the heavy, chugging "Illusion & Reality (part 3) - Final Breath"... it's a galloping piece with widdly keyboard solos, thundering drums, screaming, guitar-hero guitar pyrotechnics (I think Kim Stenberg probably has bloody fingers at the end of the solo). It's heavy metal, baby, with the organs more upfront than you'd expect. Whew! This is surrounded by "Illusion & Reality (part 1)," a piece where the vocals sound a bit like Steven Tyler and the music even has some of the Aerosmith funky blues sound mixed in with the organ driven groove, and "Illusion & Reality (part 4) - Reprise" which is a bit more pastoral, at least in comparison. It's mid-tempo and laid back.

The music might be energetic and upbeat, but the subject matter sure doesn't seem so; it's full of depression, uncertainty, dark thoughts, suicide... and yet, it may all be dream and illusion... an interesting contrast to the music.

Well, I can well understand why there's a buzz about this band; the magic is in the music they create - a mix of great vocals, performance, mix of styles and execution of those styles. In fact, they create a musically exciting mix that makes you just want dive in and enjoy. Eat up.

*coincidentally because... this review was supposed to have been written a couple of weeks ago, ahead of UM. As it turns out, they are in the same update. Perhaps this was destined to be delayed.

Change (20:04) / Motions Of Desire (6:34) / Full Circle Poetry (14:13) / Without Knowing Why (7:55) / Illusions And Reality (Part 1) (10:14) / Illusions And Reality (Part 3) - Final Breath (4:46) / Illusions And Reality (Part 4) - Reprise (3:09) / Dream Vision (7:47)

Kim Stenberg - guitars
Gilbert Marshall - keyboards, lead vocals
Eirik Hanssen - lead vocals
Lars Petter Holstad - bass
Jan T. Johannessen - drums
Allan Olsen - lead vocals

Motions Of Desire (2005)
Circus Of Life (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NO

Added: April 9th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 4567
Language: english


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