Norlander, Erik - Threshold Special Edition

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Think Tank Media
Catalog Number:
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:01:04

Erik Norlander is a very busy man: He records and plays with his band Rocket Scientists, writes, records and plays with Lana Lane, worked with Arjen Lucassen on a few albums, recorded work for a Uriah Heep tribute album, toured through Europe in 2003 and ... has released no fewer than three solo albums. Of these solo albums, the last two are probably the most known: Into The Sunset, released in 2000, and Music Machine released in 2003, both heavy rock (opera) albums. However, his debut solo album, Threshold, which Norlander released in 1997, might not be so known.

This is mainly as Norlander himself wasn't sure at first whether people would enjoy it. He recorded the album for fun and to experiment, or be progressive, as he himself states in the booklet. But, the fans loved it! The line-up is very small, just Norlander on keys (lots of them...), Don Schiff on N/S stick and Greg Ellis on drums. This is maybe what sets Threshold aside from other albums: it is a synthesizer album, but with "human" elements added. Now, some 7 years later, Erik Norlander gives us the opportunity to enjoy this music again, remastered, and as a bonus added no fewer than 10(!) bonus tracks, as well as a video clip (Quicktime format) of him playing live.

OK, so it's a synthesizer album ... you have Jean-Micheal Jarre, Vangelis and Kitaro ... why listen to Erik Norlander? Good question, easy for me to answer, but maybe not easy to explain to you. But, let me try. First of all, Norlander plays vintage analogue synths, which have such a great sound, and Erik plays them with such grace and virtuosity, that alone is a good reason. As mentioned, the added value of Schiff and Ellis, truly makes the music come alive and give it a warm sound. A few highlights of the album: After the opener, "Arrival," "Neurosaur" sets the tone of the album and shows what Norlander has in store for you. "Neuro Boogie" is quite a different song, with a crystal clear sound, in this case not produced by a Hammond organ, but by a Yamaha GX-1 synthesizer. The following song is not only a live favourite, but also my own fav song of the album: "Trantor Station," as to me this is how analogue synths should sound and should be played (and that coming form a guy who does not play any instrument!). Here it's just Norlander doing his thing.

The last two songs, of the original album, "Waltz Of The Biots" and "Critical Mass" are true epics. Keywords here are spacey and new age. On "Critical Mass," Erik plays a church organ and, for the first time, piano! And here again is something I really like about this album: instruments like a piano and organ mixed with analogue synths, creating such beautiful soundscapes ... give me more! Next up are the first four of the bonus tracks and these are a really nice addition to the album, as they are different from the rest of the album. My fav song here is "Solace," which Norlander already recorded in 1995, and has hints of Enigma (the first album) and Vangelis (the French Horn sound) in it.

The second disc contains two live songs, "Threshold Medley 1999" and "Trantor Station," the latter, recorded at the ProgWest Festival 2001, is also featured as a bonus video in Quicktime format, where you can see his impressive Moog Modular, or "Wall of Doom," as some call it. The remaining songs are alternate versions from the Threshold album, which are nice, but I think only nice for the synth buffs like myself and the more technical listeners.

Quite different from just about all other releases by Erik Norlander, but if you want to hear just how good he is with his keyboards, this is the album you need to listen to. Highly recommended if you like synthesizer music and especially if you love the analogue synth stuff. Definitely worth having in your collection, and if you get the chance to see Norlander on tour, don't hesitate and get a ticket! It is impressive to see the "Mad Scientist" at work, live.

[Science-fiction lit alert: Some, if not all, pieces reference Asimov's Foundation series... Norlander is a sf buff, don'tcha know ? sf fan ed.]

[This review originally appeared March 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Disc One: Arrival / Neurosaur / No Cross to Carry / Threshold / Neuro Boogie / Trantor Station / Waltz Of The Biots: i. Particle Storm - ii. Cocktails In The Vestibule - ii. Grand Ballroom / Critical Mass: i. Leviathan - ii. Anthem - iii. Republic - iv. Foundation - v. Leviathan Reprise / The Long Ion Train / Hyperspace** / Solace* / Return To The Ruins Of Trantor

Disc Two:Threshold Medley 1999 (Live at The Cadillac Room) / Trantor Station (Live at ProgWest 2001) / No Cross To Carry (Qcard version) / Neuro Boogie (Qcard version) / Waltz Of The Biots (Machine Mix)* / Neurosaur (Machine Mix)* / Quicktime Video: Trantor Station Live at ProgWest 2001

*what had been bonus tracks on 1997 JP version; **previously unreleased

Erik Norlander - all sorts of keyboards and synths
Greg Ellis - drums
Don Schiff - bass, N/S 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: January 1st 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1203
Language: english


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