Year of Release: 2007
Label: Progress Records
Catalog Number: PRCD 024
Total Time: 64:11:00
As a rock critic it's a healthy attitude not to take everything for granted. Record companies have this unique ability to describe every single new release to be the best album that has ever emerged worldwide. Press reviews are filled to the rim with positive arguments and you get blinded by the amount of exclamation marks included in each package. When Magic Pie's debut Motions Of Desire fell on our doormat it was once again introduced to be one of the best prog albums of the decade, yet contrary to a lot of likewise introductions it surely was the case. However, as sometimes a debut album only materializes after ten or even twenty years, it's always the second album (or the "difficult third" in the vinyl age) which confirms the quality. As the band's Circus Of Life reached my CD-player, I was more than happy to see the quality shine through once again, even more mature and more to the point than their successful debut.
Fans of Flower Kings and Karmakanic will most certainly embrace this release, as the music includes all of the highlights we have known and loved for so long. Magic Pie however hails from Oslo, Norway, and is therefore a nice change from the suffocating power of Swedish prog. As an illustration of the band's ambition the album starts with the epic "Circus Of Life," which is composed of five separate pieces. The opening section "Welcome" is an acoustic little beauty which blends mellotron with real cello where the catchy vocal melody reminds me of ACT. You hear this song for the very first time and it will stay in your memory forever! The second part is the all instrumental "Freakshow" which introduces heavy guitar riffs and plenty of ingenious drum breaks and fills, and an overwhelming seventies sounding organ. Using exactly the same line-up as on the band's debut you witness how homogeneous Magic Pie has become shining in every single department.
With "What If ?" the calm sets in, turning towards hazes of drifting Pink Floyd sounds. With two different lead singers the band also injects a nice variety in the vocal department, which in some cases is the stumbling block. Here however the vocals nicely blend together, leaving behind traces of Alan Parsons Project along the way. I don't think any other group before them has ever included an "epic" within an "epic"? The lush 21:50 long "Trick Of The Mind" is the fourth part of the "Circus Of Life" masterpiece, introducing complex parts with hints of Flower Kings, Spock's Beard, Yes, but also Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, and with fine melodic parts from the golden book of The Beatles and CSNY added to complete the picture. Incredible guitar solos battle against furious Hammond sounds turning this in what surely has to be the band's live favourite.
Great bands don't shun any influence so it is such a great pleasure to hear some Spanish guitar find it's way in the fierce "Pointless Masquerade." Guitar and synth introduce the more poppy intro for "Watching The Waters" which closes this incredible album. Tribal drums steer this song towards an early end where, after a minute of pure silence, the rhythm sets in again this time accompanied by mouth organ and bluesy guitar delivering yet another slice of the versatile Magic Pie. Without a shadow of a doubt Circus Of Life is already my "album of the year"!
In 2006 they performed at ROSfest, whilst this year sees them take the stage [again at RoSFest 2007, but also] at the Subtacto Prog Festival in Oslo [in August] and most of all, at the internationally acclaimed Sweden Rock Festival, next to names such as Aerosmith, Scorpions, REO Speedwagon and Motörhead. For sure the Magic Pie star is rising fast so be sure you catch them as quick as you can!
Circus Of Life: Pt 1 Welcome (3:25) / Pt 2 Freakshow (6:14) / Pt 3 What If ? (8:04) / Pt 4 Trick Of The Mind (21:50) / Pt 5 The Clown (6:07) / Pointless Masquerade (8:57) / Watching The Waters (9:31)
Kim Stenberg - guitars, vocals
Gilbert Marshall - keyboards, lead vocals
Eirik Hanssen - lead vocals
Lars Petter Holstad - bass
Jan Torkild Johannessen - drums
Allan Olsen - lead vocals
Motions Of Desire (2005)
Circus Of Life (2007)
Genre: Progressive Rock