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RPWL - Beyond Man And Time CD (album) cover

BEYOND MAN AND TIME

RPWL

 

Neo-Prog

3.88 | 404 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Beyond Man And Time' - RPWL (8/10)

In spite of their less-than-catchy name, RPWL have been one of the most impressive and underrated modern prog bands out there in recent years. Granted, the band uses several chapters from the book of Pink Floyd- a band I have never loved- but they have always managed to update the sound to a modern context, and- as so many retro proggers fail to do- make the sound their own. 'Beyond Man And Time' opens 2012 on an ambitious note. While they have always enjoyed a cinematic quality to their music, RPWL's fifth record brings in a narrative concept to their music. This is arguably the band's best album to date, a near-masterpiece that showcases their brooding, modern sound with intelligent songwriting and clear production.

RPWL's music reminds me greatly of Porcupine Tree, as I believe with be a rather common reaction for newcomers listening to 'Beyond Man And Time'. The title of this album is derived from the first line of Nietzsche's 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra'; "6000 feet beyond man and time..." A dark philosophy resounds throughout the concept of this album. Although I usually think of a rock operatic format when I think of concept albums, the narrative of 'Beyond Man And Time' is pleasantly abstract. The characters in this album are ideas; ways of life that an unnamed protagonist comes across. Each of these songs- save for the ambient intro 'Transformation'- showcases a different metaphorical character and his distinct ideology and way of life. Among these are 'The Ugliest Man In The World' and 'The Fisherman', although the listener will also come across scientists and blindmen during the journey. Really, 'Beyond Man And Time' becomes a window shopping experience of ideology and philosophy, filtered through the band's very introspective style. For some, the abstract concept may be too inaccessible to ever get into, but the interpretative nature of these lyrics makes it an album that can stay enigmatic even after that inevitable feeling of familiarity kicks in post-five or ten listens.

The style of RPWL has not had to change much in order to incorporate this narrative. The spacey melange recalls Pink Floyd (of which RPWL was originally a tribute band for) and their performance and recording sounds close to Porcupine Tree. The melodies and songwriting however are strong enough to make RPWL stand out on their own as a distinct band and sound. It is great to hear a band in prog that can pull off memorable, beautiful melodies in their music while staying true to the ambitious nine minute format. Although Floydian guitars and Yogi Lang's warm, mellow vocals are the staple for RPWL's style, there is a thick electronic presence here that gives the music an unnecessary, but complimentary layer for the production. 'Beyond Man And Time' may actually be held back most by its length; at seventy minutes, the music manages to stay afloat, but there's certainly that feeling that the album could have said the same thing in less time.

'Beyond Man And Time' is an ambitious record, and as such, it's more of a grower than alot of 'neo-prog' nowadays. RPWL have opened the year on an excellent note, and although the beginning of the year is often a time when bands try to take advantage of the relative peace and quiet, this album would deserve a listen regardless of its competition.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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