Magrathea - Legends

Year of Release: 2004
Label: n/a
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:48:00

Magrathea is apparently the name of a planet with a very rich and successful culture, described in the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. Magrathea is also the name of a brilliant new band from the U.K. I recently received a copy of their latest release, Legends, for review and I guess I will tip my hand right away and say that I can only hope that Magrathea, the band, gets as rich and well known as the fictional planet for which they are named.

If there's anything that I love, its good old fashioned, 70's style, retro-prog. When I hear any new music that captures that glorious era it gives me hope for the future. This release from Magrathea certainly does that, and it does it with great skill and feeling. It does it with wonderful musical virtuosity, mature writing and arranging, with distinctive vocals and fine lyrics. This is an album of very well conceived and performed music, music that darn near perfectly blends the feel and spirit of traditional symphonic progressive with today's neo-progressive zeitgeist.

This Magrathea project is actually the work of only two men, Glen Alexander who tackles the keyboards and drum kit, as well as handling all the vocals, and Gary Gordon on guitars and bass. If you're thinking "hmm ? kind of like Fred Schendel and Steve Babb" well, then you're right, for these two have every indication of being the next Glass Hammer. I don't mean that they sound anything like Glass Hammer, only that Magrathea produces work of the same quality and vision. Magrathea's music sounds to me like the result of having listened very carefully to Genesis from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway on through And Then There Were Three. I hear some similarities to Marillion, IQ and even Ultravox, but this is a duo that seems as much at home with their late 70s Genesis sound as the afore mentioned Glass Hammer is with their Yes/Kansas style. Both of these musicians are very good indeed, and it may come as no surprise that Alexander sound very much like Tony Banks and that Gordon plays quite a bit like Steve Hackett. This music is chock full of 7/8 time signatures, well developed musical themes, very satisfying interplay between the instruments, and of course, tons of splendid keyboard work.

Starting with track one, "Reunion" which will remind the listener of "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" to the final track "Dreamscape," this release bears many similarities to familiar Genesis songs. I hear references to "Eleventh Earl Of Mar," "All In A Mouse's Night," "Squonk" and "Dance On A Volcano" all over this fine release. Gary Gordon's guitar playing is sometimes heavier and more distorted than that of Steve Hackett but he does a great job of keeping the music marching along with a powerful stride. Glenn Alexander's keyboard work is active and intricate, lush and consistently beautiful.

There is not a bad track on this release, and I think the first four tracks are the finest material on this disc, but track four, "The Man Who Loved Flowers" keeps calling me back, with its multiple themes, challenging meter and Gordon's crunching guitar work. It also features Alexander's best vocal track and more of his fine keyboard performance. I must also note that Alexander is a very impressive drummer as well, handling the frequent changes of time signature with ease and propelling the music forward with great skill.

This disc from Magrathea certainly deserves a listen from all of you and, moreover, this disc shows a band that is worthy of some support and commitment from a label that can give this album the distribution and promotion it warrants.

I recommend that you all look up Magrathea's website and order yourselves a copy of Legends. If you are a lover of good 70s style symphonic rock, or if you liked the early recordings of the Collins-era Genesis, then you will want to have this disc in your collection.

Reunion / Shadows Of Ignorance / Magical Box / The Man Who Loved Flowers / Galadriel / Brainwash / Birds Of Fire / Agoraphobic / Fear Of The Unknown / Dreamscape

Glenn Alexander - vocals, keyboards, drums
Gary Gordon - guitar, bass

Entropy (2001)
Legends 2004
Legends Remain (2004)
In Search Of The Crystal (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: September 19th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1401
Language: english


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