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Crossover Prog

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4 stars I like this! It deserves a review, so here goes:

I was inspired by the idea of two 50+-year-old guys writing three albums in about one year, so, after listening to samples on their website, I bought this album. Of all of the albums I'm listening to this month (e.g. Biosphere's "Cirque," IQ's "Subterranea," Anathema's "A Natural Disaster," Farpoint's "Paint the Dark," and SBB's eponymous album), Salander's Stendec is the one I keep coming back to. I highly recommend it.

Stylistically, the music is a nice cross of symphonic prog and pop music with an emphasis on melody and emotion. I especially like the emotive guitar work: crying, despairing, bubbling with hope, and occasional pouts of angst. The moody, sometimes ambient, sometimes grand and orchestral, keyboards are also very good. The drum programming works surprisingly well, although there are at least two moments where it seems dangerously out of sync with everything else - and this is especially cool in Zeitgeist, where I feel like my heart is skipping a beat in anticipation of disaster that never comes; it sure got my attention and gave the song added depth. The vocals are honest and sometimes raw with feeling. It all works, and I like it.

Tracks 1, 3, and 7 are love songs, of relationships gained and lost. "Ever After" is especially poignant to me, as mortality looms ever larger and the specter of loneliness becomes more tangible. At times, they remind me of songs by Everon.

Track 2 explores religious subjugation and liberation. It feels like an epic, and I enjoy many parts of it. It's not a favorite, though.

Track 4 is an instrumental, a nice little experiment.

Track 5 is a good track but doesn't stand out in my mind at the moment. Nevertheless, by the end of the track, I'm quite satisfied. The album initially feels like it should end here. However, the longest track follows.

Track 6 opens with a nice instrumental and then transitions into something reminiscent of The Proclaimers! The last two sections are instrumentals of very different moods and good ones. It's a quirky track, but I've grown to enjoy it.

Track 7 is a very good ending, picking up the threads of lost relationships and bringing us full circle.

For the work of two men who haven't been making albums for long, this is a remarkable and inspiring achievement. Its themes of growing old and being alone resonate with me quite a bit, and I'm tempted to call it a masterpiece. However, I'd prefer an actual drummer to the drum programming, and the songs could sometimes use a bit more lyrical depth or complexity; however, I'm afraid such upgrades could rob this music of its emotional honesty. Growing old isn't for the faint of heart, and it certainly makes you feel like you're getting rough around the edges - quite in keeping with this. I'm not totally sold on tracks 2, 5, and 6 yet, but they will grow on me, I'm sure. I conclude this deserves at least an excellent rating, maybe 4.3-4.6. I'll play it safe and give 4 stars. Excellent!

Report this review (#1214672)
Posted Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
3 stars Salander were the duo of Dave Curnow (Lead Guitars, Rhythm Guitars, Bowed Guitar, Vocals) and Dave Smith (Keyboards, Acoustic Guitars, Rhythm Guitars, Bass, Drum Programming, Vocals), and in just a few years together they released four albums and a couple of singles. 'Stendec' was their third album of 2014, and was announced with the following email 'Ladies and Gentlemen, It gives me great pleasure to announce that at 8.04pm this evening Salander gave birth to a new album. Everyone is doing fine. We have called it STENDEC. It weighs in at 65 minutes and we hope it will have a bright future.' Okay, so this may have sat in my review pile for far longer than is usual, but I blame being sent too much material, plus writing books (which took may way longer than I ever expected!). It also means that I know that Salander are no longer in existence, with Dave Smith moving to Lanzarote and then forming Birzer Bandana (who to date have released two albums).

This release is a crossover album in its very truest sense, mixing progressive music with pop tendencies, acoustic singer songwriter with symphonic. They are quite Floydian at times, especially on some of the guitar solos, with are full of depth and emotion. In some ways this is at odds with the sound of the rest of the album, which feels little flat and without depth. I am sure that much of this is down to the use of programmed drums, and overall the album does come across as a home studio recording as opposed to something more professional. Some of the vocals have also been treated (I hesitate to say auto tune as it is so obvious that I am sure it must have been a deliberate effect), which isn't to my personal taste either. But, there are times when it does all come together in a way that is really impassioned and quite wonderful. It would have been interesting to hear what these songs sounded like in a live environment and a full band, as that would have been quite different I am sure. But, the album is currently available for 'name your price' on Bandcamp, so why not give a try yourself?

Report this review (#1976368)
Posted Thursday, August 9, 2018 | Review Permalink


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