Galleon - Mind Over Matter

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Progress Records
Catalog Number: PRCD017
Format: CD
Total Time: 66:00:00

If someone were to play this without telling you who it was, you might take a stab and say Arena. Or, at the very least, a project that Clive Nolan had his hand in. Actually, I'd say Shadowland more so than Arena. Nolan hasn't in this case, but Galleon make it hard to think otherwise on this, their 1998 release Mind Over Matter (remastered and reissued by Progress Records in 2005). It is their sixth album (of a total of eight, so far). Their first came out in 1993, and their most recent, From Land To Ocean, a double CD (the second disk comprised of one track - it that proggy or what?).

You might also think of Satellite, especially during the first part of "The Wanderer," perhaps even more so than of Shadowland? And you might think of classic Genesis, as, yes, there's what appears to be a mellotron swell right outta the Gabriel-era songbook in "The Wanderer" as well. It's an epic, both in musical scope and in lyrical scope, discussing matters of life and the universe. If any of the tracks could be described as decidedly proggy, this would be it. There are only 5 tracks on this CD, incidentally, but you won't feel cheated. The shortest is 7:56 and the longest, "The Wanderer," is 21:14. Length doesn't necessarily equal prog, or even good prog, of course. But Galleon are good, so don't worry about that. Given the overall spaceyness of the music, you might be tempted to say that this Galleon sails on a sea of stars, but would that be too cutesy?

Anyway. Supposing you had never heard Shadowland or Arena (or Satellite, or even, dare I say, Genesis?)? What would that first paragraph mean to you? Not a lot, I suppose. Thus, in a nutshell, Galleon's sound is epic -- if you like large, sweeping themes, symphonic stylings of keyboards washes, cathredral sized arrangements, and yet something also intimate in tone and colouring, then you'll have an idea what Galleon are about.

But really ? unless you look at the lyrics (most of, at least; written by Ulf Pettersson and Goran Fors) from a step or two back, you may not always be quite sure what they are about. "Art Gallery" for instance, the epic that opens the album? there's a touch of the psychedelic in the images the lyrics evoke, and really are more "poetic" than storytelling. You might liken it to "Pictures At An Exhibition" though other than being about art (literally or figuratively), it doesn't share anything with that Mussorgsky classic (brought into the prog world by ELP, of course).

Keyboards are dominant in the mix throughout? perhaps because there are two of them, though Pettersson is the lead keyboardist, vocalist/bassist G?ran Fors also contributes to the mix. Dan Fors on drums and percussion and Micke Varn on guitars are very much present. I should point out that Varn's soloing style is more Hackett-like to my ears than the expected, maybe, Rothery/Mitchell/Gilmour style. Though there isn't a great deal of guitar soloing; it's mostly the keys. G?ran Fors has a gentle delivery style, slightly accented (really heard if you are listening hard), that sounds very, very much like Nolan. The accent is mostly Swedish, of course, but there's also something, um, English about his voice?. Maybe because it does sound like Nolan.

"Operating Manual" is snappy number with a slightly off-kilter beat. We never are quite sure what the "manual" is for (use your imagination, maybe? mind over matter, indeed), but that is often true about operating manuals anyway, isn't it? All we know is that it will give the user pleasure of some variety? There is a differently paced section, a little more? spacey, let's say. But for the most part, we get this upbeat, slightly quirky? poppy? jig.

Speaking of jig, you might find it surprising to hear bagpipes in a song written by Swedes, and yet there they are, in "Starborn." It's not a jig, though. This is more an airy, spacey piece, with a mellow marching rhythm? not quite martial, but processional in a way. I'd call the piece celestial? and, not to make another comparison, but Big Country-like. It's the shortest track on the CD and seems the most focused because of it?

This is followed by "House Of Plenty" which begins as a mellow, Genesis-like piece, circa the mid-to-late 70s? and becomes something that resembles more recent Arena. And we get something quite different again with the widdly, parpy keyboard solo that kicks in about halfway through? symphonic. This is followed by a Gothic, organ-like passage. I'd say, the piece, on the whole, resembles a mixing of Genesis, Arena and Flower Kings.

Naturally, because of who Galleon sound like, I like this. I can't say I love it yet, though. It is a good release, though not great; perhaps because of that sense that the tracks meander just a bit. Not a whole lot, just a bit. You see -- well, hear -- the mood and temperament they are trying to set, so it's not a case of "let's add a instrumental section for the sake of making this song x-minutes long," but I sorta feel that a track or two could have been shaved by a minute or two (roughly). But they have a very appealing sound and slip right into that category that lies somewhere between "neo-prog" (that dreaded term) and heavy prog, hewing closer to the former. Does the previous six sound like this? The following two? I don't know? yet. (Bobo does reference Genesis in his review of From Land To Ocean?).

Art Gallery (14:10) / Operating Manual (10:37) / Starborn (7:56) / House Of Plenty (12:26) / The Wanderer (21:14)

G?ran Fors - bass, vocals, keyboards
Dan Fors - drums and percussion
Micke Varn - guitars
Ulf Pettersson - keyboards

Lynx (1993)
Heritage & Visions (1994)
At This Moment In Time (1995)
King Of Aragon (1995)
The All European Hero (1996)
Mind Over Matter (1998/2005)
Beyond Dreams (2000)
From Land To Ocean (2003)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: September 4th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 2147
Language: english


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