Magic Pie - Motions Of Desire

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

I've seen several good reviews of this disc. I suppose I would find many more if I took the time to look. It's really no surprise because Magic Pie's formula seems pretty simple. Throw in elements of absolutely every band that has attracted any substantial interest from the prog community over the last few years and add some references to a few older bands that are perpetually popular with progheads. Just trying to list the bands that this new Norwegian band strikes a familiar chord with would be quite a task in itself. The Flower Kings, Karmakanic, IQ, Marillion, Echolyn, Mostly Autumn, and Dream Theater to name only a few, plus similarities to a few old bands such as Kansas, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Khan and, as unlikely as this may seem, they do sound just like Little Feat from time to time.

Now there's nothing wrong with any of this, I just feel a bit strange and out of step because I do not find myself salivating over this disc with everyone else. There is a lot, and I do mean a LOT, of good old fashioned rocking out on this album and the guitarist and keyboardist are both quite talented, the keyboardist Gilbert Marshall in particular kicking out tons of nice sounding Hammond organ work. Guitarist Kim Stenberg has carved out a traditional heavy guitar sound for himself. I say heavy, but not heavy metal, that would not be giving the man his due. Sure, he can blast out 64th notes with the best of them, but he doesn't limit himself to neo-classical harmonic minor mode shred fests. He has a strongly based blues influence in his phrasing and he produces a more melodic set of licks with this influence than your typical head banging guitar god. The drums and bass playing are not lagging behind here, they just don't get much of a chance to make a mark Another notable aspect to the sound of Magic Pie is the presence of three (yes, three!) lead vocalists. Keyboardist Gilbert Marshall is one, but the other two are both stand alone (well, not in this case) mike twirlers. I don't think I can remember a band with so many dedicated male vocalists since Three Dog Night.

As I said, there is nothing wrong with this. But, when the major points of interest for me are a bands unusual line up or the ability of their members to play a good solo, then I know that I'm in shallow waters. The music of Magic Pie is all cut and paste, a piece of this and a chunk of that. It's not bad music, but it's not something I'll be listening to in a few years or even a few months. And frankly, I don't think many of the people raving about this disc now will be listening to this for long either. This bands appeal is all bluster and jamming, and there will be another new band doing just the same thing within a couple of months and they'll be the new darlings of the reviewers. Good songwriting and distinctive melodies will be remembered forever but a hotter guitar or keys player is always just around the corner.

Well, with all this said, there are some good things to be said for Magic Pie. Motions Of Desire begins with their twenty minute epic "Change". This bold move shows a lot of confidence and to be truthful, this is an enjoyable twenty minutes. While I'm listening to "Change" however I'm mainly noticing the "change" from the band sounding just like Dream Theater to it sounding just like Deep Purple and so on ... and on and on. There are obvious references to a dozen or more bands just in this first cut. The title track sounds at first like Marillion, but becomes very IQ-ish before long. There is even one tune that has a reggae section in it that is juxtaposed against a very AOR vocal chorus. This is the only instance on this album of something just plain not working. It comes across rather badly, but it is the only flat out stinker on the disc and you must remember that this is just one small section of one song.

I don't think the music here is very deep but I'm comparing this to good progressive rock. Which means that even this lackluster disc is better than 99% of what's on the market today.

If you'd like to hear a talented group of musicians kicking out the jams and you want something more visceral than cerebral then you're definitely going to like Magic Pie.

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 23rd 2006
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 940
Language: english


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