Norlander, Erik - Music Machine

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Think Tank Media
Catalog Number: PSV0990972
Format: CD
Total Time: 106:17:00

"On my 35th birthday, I found myself looking at the over fifteen albums I had produced and recorded for Lana Lane, Rocket Scientists and my previous solo efforts, and I had to ask the very difficult question. 'So what's next?'," says keyboard wizard Erik Norlander in the liner notes of his new solo album, Music Machine. But Erik Norlander is more than just a producer; he is also an excellent composer and an outstanding keyboard player. Check out his website to see what equipment he uses and you know that this new album has to be something special. As it is becoming a tradition with albums of this scale, Norlander has invited bags of guest musicians to join him on this epic album, but I won't mention everyone here; I should leave something for you to discover.

On Music Machine, Norlander has decided to follow the path he took with Into The Sunset, his previous solo album, and adds more progressive metal elements to his music, yet not diminishing his keyboard play, but blending them to a varied, but balanced album. Music Machine is a 2 CD concept album with a story of a genetically engineered superstar to boost the sales of a certain music mega conglomerate. The keyboards form the catalyst that binds all the elements of the story together in a surprisingly refreshing album. If you listen to the album, you will hear (sometimes) songs change in style and this ensures the album will never get boring or monotonous, but keeps your attention as you are swept along with the music. Of course the familiar keyboard sound is there, as Erik pulls out everything he's got on the album, including his famous "Wall of Doom," a huge Moog Modular (visit his website for pictures of this awesome synthesiser). Former Vengeance guitarist Peer Verschuuren plays most of the guitar parts and he proves to me a tremendous guitar player, with excellent solos and kick ass heavy riffs. Amongst the vocalists I found Kelly Keeling (Blue Murder, Michael Schenker Group) [to be] the one that touched me, although the others are also very good. His vocals on "One Of The Machines" are compelling and I find this one of my favourite songs on the album, which is not an easy choice as there are in total 21 tracks which all have their intricacies and nuances, as Rick Wakeman mentions in the booklet. One song that really stands out is "Lost Highway." This song has a Texas blues feeling to it and exceptional vocals, by no one less than Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (Blue O?ster Cult), who also plays guitar on the track and is one of Norlander's idols.

When listing to the album I did find a few, maybe unconsciously added, references to some known bands: "Music Machine" has a small hint of "The Shooting Company of Capt. Frans B. Cocq" (Ayreon), "Andromeda" has a reference of "The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke" from Queen II and "Johnny America" has a touch of Toto. Maybe you will find more, as Music Machine is not an album to digest in one spin. There is so much to discover, that it will take a long time to fully grow on you and reveal all its musical secrets. If you only listen to the various instrumental songs, each time you listen, you will hear more nuances in Norlander's play. Or the various vocalists, who all have their own style in bringing the songs [to life]. A nice touch at the end of "Johnny America" is the inclusion of an old English WOI tune, called "Johnny Comes Marching Home." The closing songs "Epilogue: Sky Full Of Stars' is like the soft landing of a space ship, it gently brings you down to the surface, with almost new age influence and a breathtaking solo by Peer Verschuren.

There is much more to tell about Music Machine, but that would not do credit to the album. No, you should go and listen to it yourself! Music Machine is a feast for your ears and will keep you listening to it for a very long time. The artwork is great, especially on the limited edition digi pack, with a massive booklet, where you can read (in short) the story, the lyrics, and view pictures of all the people involved in the album and great pictures of Erik's impressive equipment. But, most importantly, the music on the album is phenomenal, not to mention all the musicians and vocalists. However, you should get it and judge for yourself. As for me, I will go back to my headphones and listen to Music Machine .... again.

Similar bands: Ayreon

[This review originally appeared June 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Disc 1: RISE: Prologue: Project Blue Prince / Music Machine / Turn Me On / Heavy Metal Symphony / Tour Of The Sprawl / Andromeda / Letter From Space / Lost Highway / Soma Holiday / Return Of The Neurosaur / Project Blue Prince Reprise

Disc 2: FALL: Fanfare And Interlude / Beware The Vampires / The Fire Of Change / The Fall Of The Idol / Metamorphosis / One Of The Machines / Fallen / Johnny America / Music Machine Reprise / Epilogue: Sky Full Of Stars

Erik Norlander - keyboards

contributing musicians:

Kelly Keeling - vocals
Mark Boals - vocals
Scott Kail - vocals
Robert Soeterboek - vocals
Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser- vocals, guitar
Peer Verschuren - guitars
Neil Citron - guitars
Vinny Appice - drums
Gregg Bissonette - drums
Virgil Donati - drums
Tony Franklin - fretless bass
Don Schiff - NS/Stick


Rocket Scientists - Earthbound (1993) (OOP)
Rocket Scientists - Brutal Architecture (1995)
Threshold (1997)
Rocket Scientists - Earth Below And Sky Above (1998)
Rocket Scientists - Oblivion Days (1999)
Into The Sunset (2000)
Music Machine (2003)
Threshold - Special Edition (2004)
Stars Rain Down (2004)
Seas Of Orion (2004)
Rocket Scientists - Revolution Road (2006)
Hommage Symphonique (2006/2007)
Rocket Scientists - Looking Backward (2007)
The Galactic Collective (2010)

Live At St. Petersburg (DVD) (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: May 29th 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1816
Language: english


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