MENU
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

OVRFWRD

Heavy Prog • United States


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Ovrfwrd picture
Ovrfwrd biography
This is a four piece American band that plays instrumental progressive rock. They were formed in 2012 with drummer Rikki DAVENPORT, guitarist Mark ILAUG, bassist Kyle LUND and keyboardist Chris MALMGREN. They came together with diverse and complex backgrounds and musical influences. Initially the band was supposed to have a vocalist, but he didn't show up at the recording sessions. Beyond the Visible Light was recorded in 5 days and is a adventure with many colors and textures. They show some influences from many bands of the 70's Prog Rock scene with some intrusion in the Jazz Rock genre. Their debut "Beyond the Visible" Light was released in 2014 and is an adventurous listening journey with many colors and textures. In 2015 they released "Fantasy Absent Reason" (vinyl) continuing on the path of sonic textures and soundscapes. Together they have a common goal; to create and perform powerful, colorful, interesting and sonically descriptive music, engaging and pushing forward on the musical journey.

Bio by rdtprog updated by Chris Malmgren

Ovrfwrd official website

OVRFWRD MP3, Free Download (music stream)


Open extended player in a new pop-up window | Random Playlist (50) | How to submit new MP3s
No MP3/Stream available for this artist.
Collaborate with Progarchives.com, learn how to submit new MP3s.

OVRFWRD forum topics / tours, shows & news


OVRFWRD forum topics
No topics found for : "ovrfwrd"
Create a topic now
OVRFWRD tours, shows & news Post an entries now

OVRFWRD Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Show all OVRFWRD videos (1) | Search and add more videos to OVRFWRD

Buy OVRFWRD Music


Beyond the Visible LightBeyond the Visible Light
CD Baby 2016
Audio CD$9.96
$4.49 (used)
Beyond the Visible Light by OvrfwrdBeyond the Visible Light by Ovrfwrd
CD Baby
Audio CD$35.76
Right Now on Ebay (logo)

More places to buy OVRFWRD music online Buy OVRFWRD & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
OVRFWRD has no upcoming shows, according to LAST.FM syndicated events and shows feed

OVRFWRD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

OVRFWRD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.66 | 13 ratings
Beyond the Visible Light
2014
3.77 | 21 ratings
Fantasy Absent Reason
2015

OVRFWRD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

OVRFWRD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

OVRFWRD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

OVRFWRD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

OVRFWRD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Beyond the Visible Light by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.66 | 13 ratings

BUY
Beyond the Visible Light
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars Instrumental grittiness: 6.5/10

Featuring a fascinating album cover, OVRFWRD (I have a harder time spelling this than I'd like to admit), to my pleasure, had nothing to do with the modern prog band waves of cold virtuosity and polyrhythmic frenzy. What I have seen while listening to BEYOND THE VISIBLE LIGHT are reasonable musicians that opt for melodies and don't overload they sound with countless instruments, which, while not depicting any mind-boggling virtuosity, are nonetheless accomplished and get their point across satisfactorily. In the end, that's all that matters.

Many things permit me to compare OVRFWRD to DISCIPLINE, although the first is entirely instrumental and latter has a more eclectic, symphonic sound. Both arose in the musical scenario where blasting sounds were the norm (coff coff GRUNGE); both sound gritty and dark, and neither demonstrates instrumental skill overflow. Naturally though, OVRFWRD still has a path to take to reach the beloved band's critical acclaim.

As I said, BEYOND THE VISIBLE light is surprisingly gloomy. Maybe because, since the last source of light is beyond grasp, they were obliged to embrace the darkness. OVRFWRD's music sounds modern, characteristic of this epoch, and so we can see a distinctive focus on the guitar with an overload of distortion and guitar harmonics. Perhaps a better exploration of other instruments with more embracing compositions would have benefited the band's sound.

I'm sorry, but I can't ignore how their sound resembles METALLICA's instrumental songs. Even though that thankfully they didn't inherit the thrashers' overly boring that makes me think "please end this", that similarity took a large sum of what could be OVRFWRD's uniqueness, and along with it, chunks of interest away from me. I blame the guitar tuning.

Can We Keep the Elephant's intro is pretty prog as the guitar, keyboards, and drums all have equal shares of the limelight. The song quickly shifts to being guitar led though. The grave, murkier tone I spoke of is especially noticeable in the (great) medievalesque bits of Stones of Temperance; the song's energy and darkness makes me think OVRFWRD is fighting for their lives, or perhaps that they had an omen of devastation and are trying to warn the world about it. They gain aggressiveness and melody in Raviji, although it's ended in a sadder tone. The Man With No Shoes was a delightful surprise as it shows us OVRFWRD's jazzy side, presented on the long bohemian guitar and keyboards duo. While they have constructed an enjoyable atmosphere, I felt the guitar still sounded dingy, as opposed to nimble and soothing as the passage demanded. In fact, that's how I felt most non-distorted parts sound like: too somber. Darkest Star presents us exactly that, as the song is predominated by a lack of distortion. The chaotically noisy outro filled with piano cacophony and distorted guitar sweeps was an unexpected twist that peppered the mood in the same way cinnamon and clove seasons desserts.

Maybe the METALLICA influences, guitar-orientation and grittiness was a bit too much for OVRFWRD's sound, but the debut really demonstrates what great potential they have. While they weren't able to charm me on this attempt, I'm still interested in looking their development and eager to check out how much they developed on their next release.

 Fantasy Absent Reason by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 21 ratings

BUY
Fantasy Absent Reason
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

There aren't many bands who go out on a limb and finance a vinyl release of their second album, so all power to Ovrfwrd for making this available either digitally or as a real honest to goodness record. The album kicks off with the sixteen-minute-long title cut, which allows the band to show all the tricks they have available. They are very much their own band, but some of their most important influences are on display on this song, with Discipline and King Crimson well to the fore. They move from bombastic and discordant to gentle and reflective without a pause for breath, from prog metal to piano-led gentleness, going wherever they feel the music is taking them. Rikki concentrates on cymbals when the time is right, hardly touching the rest of the kit, while swirling keyboards can provide accompaniment to the melody leads of electric guitar and piano.

That this is the highlight of the album is never in doubt, but the rest of the songs also stand well up to muster, with "Brother Jack McDuff" having a late-Sixties feel with plenty of Hammond organ sounds on clear display. The joy of both these albums is that the guys clearly know what they want to achieve and have a diverse approach to getting there. I know that they are currently working on their third album, which I am eagerly awaiting, as both of their albums to date are well worth investigating and I know that the next one will surely build on what they have been doing to date.

 Beyond the Visible Light by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.66 | 13 ratings

BUY
Beyond the Visible Light
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars I was recently contacted by keyboard player Chris Malmgren, who wanted to know if I would be interested in hearing the instrumental progressive rock band he was part of, which is how I came across Ovrfwrd. Formed in 2012, as well as Chris the band is comprised of drummer Rikki Davenport, guitarist Mark Ilaug and, bassist Kyle Lund. Five songs, with a total length of forty-eight minutes, this is a light-hearted and interesting debut. When a band is fully instrumental then of course there is no room to hide behind a singer, and what impresses me about this 2014 release is the sheer variety of styles and sounds that they are bringing to bear. They aren't a fusion act, but there are some elements of jazz here and there, and although the guitar can be gently picked, there are also times when the only thing to do is to shred. When this is undertaken on 'Stones of Temperance' I found it interesting that drummer Rikki is the only one keeping up with Mark, blasting around the kit, while Kyle kept everything grounded and Chris was playing piano.

They interweave melodies so that there is always balance, and even when the music is delicate and almost fragile, there is a strength that holds it all together. They know when the time is right to rock it out, or bring it all back in, when they need to use piano or keyboards, when to riff or gently play leads. The result is an album that is immensely listenable to, and enjoyable on the very first playing

 Beyond the Visible Light by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.66 | 13 ratings

BUY
Beyond the Visible Light
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars VERY Good Debut.

I probably should have reviewed OVRFWRD's two albums in chronological order, but I have been so enthralled with Utopia Planitia that I reviewed their second album first. But this is also a very good album. I think the 5-star system here on PA is missing one category, in between "excellent" and "good". What to do when an album is better than "good but not essential", but not quite at the same level of "excellence" as, say, Moving Pictures ? Perhaps we need a "very good" category? Ovrfwd's debut album, for me, is clearly in this realm, and better than a lot of classic albums. The style is very similar to their second album (Fantasy Absent Reason, or FAR), and I do not agree with some reviewers who claim the second album was a huge step up from this first one. Both albums are, in fact, quite similar in a lot of ways (except that there is no flute on this one, which featured on Utopia Planitia), and the quality is generally high. Beyond Visible Light has five extended tracks, often with multiple sections to them, just like FAR, with a number of great guitar and keys solos. And, similar to my review of FAR, there are enough sections where the chord progressions are not overlaid with solos that I feel another instrument (say, perhaps a flute? - sorry, can't help it) would have helped fill out the sound. The album starts with a great song ("Can We Keep the Elephant"). The main theme starts the tune for the first two minutes, dies down for an extended interlude, and then comes back. The song packs a great punch. "Stones of Temperance", the second track, is my favourite on this album, and my second-favourite of OVRFWRD's songs (after Utopia Planitia). Starting with an excellent interplay between piano and e-guitar built around a slightly-modified minor scale (hints of that tri-tone again!) the song builds from very quiet to what Frank Zappa liked to call "an orgasmic frenzy", only to quiet down in the middle and change to another excellent chord progression which once again leads to a great build-up and awesome guitar solo. If this whole album were as good as this, it would be 5 stars.

The last three tracks on the album all have a kind of AB structure (or ABC), such that the second-half of the song is quite different than the first half. In each case, I much prefer the second halves. The third and longest track on the album, "Raviji", is in this style. One can clearly hear the influence of Rush here (hints of "Xanadu", "Free Will", etc), particularly in the first five minutes (more tri-tone). This first part of this song is not my favourite part of the album, but the piece gets really good about 6 minutes in, starting with new a piano-only chord progression into, then some acoustic guitar lines, and then a fantastic electric guitar solo which jams out long enough to get into some feedback-laced soloing over a rising chord progression bringing the piece right up to a brief jazz-fusion-y ending. The fourth track, "Man with No Shoes" moves among a number of different styles in its first half, some of which involve some crunchy metal and some which are more jazz fusion (again avec lots of tri-tone, and some nice drumming!). Then, at the almost-5 min mark, it becomes very quiet thus beginning a guitar solo which ushers in the conclusion with some new themes. The last tune ("Darkest Star") starts as a fairly simple falling chord progression that repeats over a straight beat, for about 4 mins. Like their second album, I don't think vocals are necessary on most of this music, but these four minutes could have used something accompanying (flute maybe?). But the song gets good at the 4:10 mark when a great guitar solo starts, changing completely the feel of the song. As in "Raviji", the guitar solo ends in feedback, at which point a great new section of the tune begins - one of the highlights of the album, albeit too short. The song ends with an abrupt cut (like the Beatles' "Shes So Heavy"), which abruptly changes the mood and wakes you up, like an alarm clock in reverse. But I was loving all the noise!

All together, a very good album. Lots of very musical sections, but sometimes feeling patched together - the transitions are not always smooth. The noisy ending to "Darkest Star" and the great guitar solo on "Raviji" makes me wish there were even more extended guitar solos and that the band free- improvised a bit more. On balance, I give this album 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale - just a hair shy of what I gave their second album. Indeed, the quality is pretty consistent across both albums, and "Stones of Temperence" is really excellent - recommended! I would like to thank Chris Malmgren for sending me these albums. I have really enjoyed listening to them. Chris - if OVRFWRD ever gigs in Toronto, let me know. I would love to see the band!

 Fantasy Absent Reason by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 21 ratings

BUY
Fantasy Absent Reason
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Very close to 4 Stars!

The most recent album from OVRFWRD contains a lot of really excellent musical sections. The music is all-instrumental, with the band bio stating this is because the singer never showed up for the recording sessions, so the band just continued without a singer (!) I listen to a lot of post-rock and jazz too, and have never thought a singer was necessary. Saying this, when listening to both the first album (Beyond Visible Light) and this one, there are times when I felt the arrangement could have used something additional. While a lot of post-rock (and Krautrock, etc) is intentionally sparse, the music played by Ovrfwrd is more like YYZ or La Villa Strangiato, with a lot of structure and directionality, and there are a number of places where there are repeated chord progressions without soloing, so it seems to me there could be something else there. Not singing though, as I really like this music without any words. Then, eureka! - I got to the song "Utopia Planitia" on this album, and heard the flute that plays over top of the beginning and ending of the piece. Amazing tune! The flute adds just enough additional (improvised) counterpoint to the keys and guitars to fill out the sound and wake up the brain. At a number of times in the other tunes, the piano fulfils this function, and there are some great guitar solos there too. But for the sparser sections in the other pieces, I keep coming back to Utopia Planitia and wonder what those tunes would have been like with the flute. Utopia Planitia is so good, I have added it to my casual rotation, even after listening to the rest of this album a bunch of times. Even without the flute, I think this is the band's best song, but the flute elevates even higher. Very musical, with a great arrangement that does not interrupt the flow (unlike some of the other tunes) and keeps the listener tuned in right to the close.

Saying this, I also like the other tunes. My second-favourite is the closer, "Creature Comforts". Starting out with a really nice interplay between electric piano and jazzy guitar, then a repeated guitar hook brings in the main chord progression and melody. Great song! I only wish it were longer (its only 4 min - would have been a great 12-min epic). The other shorter tune, "Brother Jack McDuff" also works very efficiently, and I wouldn't have changed anything on this one. The remaining two tunes are the ones I think could most have used the flute or something similar. Dust Nova starts out soft and jazzy, with really nice piano and echo-y jazz guitar solo, it slowly builds to power-chord tune with both and guitars at times playing rapid 16th note patterns, but it still seems over-sparse. A flute playing over top would have nailed it ('nailed' in a good way of course!), especially during the build up and then afterwards right at the end as the song settles down. Finally, the long 16+ min title track that opens the album contains a lot of musical sections, although it seems to me overly fragmented. At times a great section dies right down to silence only to rise again with a completely different theme. There are some great organ and guitar solos in places, but those sections where the guitar or piano is playing power chords accompanied by repeated 16th-note patterns by the other instrument could have used some accompaniment. In particular, the main build-up between minute 10 and minute 14 in this piece would have really benefited from a flute or some other accompaniment (or even just a long improvised keys or guitar solo). Many of the chord progressions throughout this tune are built around the tri-tone (augmented 4th), which is still less common, but it generally works well here. I appreciate the non-standard chord progressions on these tunes - while most of the music is not super complex, a number of sections are quite musical and use non-standard chord progressions.

On the whole, this a very enjoyable album. There is not a bad track in the set, even if I think some of the pieces could have been even better. I give it 7.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is at the top end of the 3-star range. Very close to 4 stars!

 Fantasy Absent Reason by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 21 ratings

BUY
Fantasy Absent Reason
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Ovrfwrd

With great apologies to Ovrfwrd, I am at last posting a review of their 2015 release "Fantasy Absent Reason" many months after I agreed to listen to the album and write a review. I have been listening to the album over the last few months and at least on a couple of occasions had decided that I would write a review once I got home only to find I had other things awaiting my attention.

So what do we have here? An instrumental album of 5 tracks running about 44 minutes. The instrument line up is electric guitar, piano and synthesizer, bass, and drums and percussion. There's some harpsichord at the beginning and flute later on. As the band doesn't need to be concerned with fiddling with lyrics or finding someone qualified to sing them, the musicians can concentrate on creating music to captivate and hold interest.

The title track opens the album with over sixteen minutes of shifting between heavy guitar and piano and brief atmospheric interludes. Take note of the drummer as he earns a spot in the limelight in the more dramatic moments. Listening to the track right now, I'm following all the shifts and changes in nuance; however, many times as I walked between my house and the train station (about a 35-minute walk) my mind wandered and I missed a lot of interesting moments.

"Brother Jack McDuff" comes across as an early seventies jam number. There's organ and again that drummer is holding down his seat really well. A good rollicking nostalgic bit of music.

"Dust Nova" begins quite serenely before picking up the pace. The main theme appears to be a simple piano chord progression backed by a rapid guitar melody and a busy drum rhythm. This reiterates as the music gradually builds in drama with the guitar melody being replaced by heavy chords. I'm reminded a little of Pelican here, though the sound of Ovrfwrd is distinctly different. The music returns to its simple beginning with cascading piano notes over effective percussion and clean, wavering, strummed guitar chords.

"Utopia Planitia" is a dramatic track with some savage flute following some wild playing of the band. As with other tracks, the pace changes with some easier sailing sections while others are more active and unsettled. There's room for guitar and keyboard solos and some ominous moods created by heavy guitar and rhythm while a spacey synthesizer weaves through the calamity. I'd say this is a good place to start if you want a feel for the album.

"Creature Comforts" brings the album to a close with a slow and carefully tread opening that yields to an eighties hard rock style of finger plucked chords. The track is pleasant but ends rather soon.

I think the band have done a good job of creating an instrumental album that's not too long and includes music that is not too complex but has still received careful attention. The use of piano, drums and percussion, and heavy guitar create some terrific moments of both drama and beauty, and the band are sure to include moments for cooling down and taking it easy.

Despite the 44-minute length, this almost feels like an EP. The album begins with a long track and closes with a brief and more laid back track. I feel as though two tracks are missing, perhaps one at each end. The lengthy instrumental opening the album seems to soon and the final track wraps up the album with less ceremony than seems fitting. The music is not as complex or involved as my recent preferences have been, but for something that allows you to feel energy, mood, and atmosphere in a rock instrumental format, this is rather a decent album. Three and a half stars.

 Fantasy Absent Reason by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 21 ratings

BUY
Fantasy Absent Reason
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The second and most recent studio album by US band Ovrfwrd arrived to my ears thanks to the kindness of keyboard man Chris Malmgren, who I thank for it. This second album has the name of Fantasy Absent Reason and has just as the debut, five tracks, the first is a long 17-minute epic, tracks 2 and 5 are the shorter ones, while 3 & 4 have that 8-9 minute range that the songs of the first album had. The running time is around 46 minutes here.

And well, they decided to open with the majestic title track "Fantasy Absent Reason", an ambitious composition full of energy, explosions, changes and loads of prog rock elements. The first two minutes are bombastic, first with a harpsichord, and later a heavy and powerful sound produced by Malmgren's keyboards, who seems to be free to create whatever he wants to create, which means keyboard followers will have a feast here; just before the fourth minute arrives, an extraordinary guitar solo appears, taking the leadership for a while, while bass, drums and organ keep low profile as background. Just as I learnt on the first album, their instrumental music is full of contrasts so one can be listening to soft and delicate music but a minute later it turns out to be aggressive, heavier, but always enjoyable. There is a clear Crimsonian feeling on some moments here, but well, which band does not have King Crimson blood? And well, the song progresses, increases the energy, decreases the rhythm, makes a lot of changes but it is always (I repeat, always) interesting, so those 17 minutes run without any piece of trouble, everything good.

"Brother Jack McDuff" is one of the shorter tracks here, and again what first caught my attention was the sound of keyboards, its sound has that 70s vibe but I believe it is clear the band comes from the XXI century. Some bluesy hints here, but the lush keyboards keep the symphonic spirit, though later guitars appear with a marvelous solo. This is a wonderful song that due to its length could be named as single and could work as an introductory track to Ovrfwrd's world. "Dust Nova" has a much softer sound, delicate guitars, bass and drums for the first three minutes, just before they become more aggressive and provide much power. Guitars create several notes and sounds, always producing nuances that make the listener pay attention until the very end. The drumming here is also wonderful in all parts, in the aggressive ones and also in the softer ones. Great track!

"Utopia Planitia" brings a new element to the road: flute. And man, thank you for it! The addition of the flute brings new textures and colors than let the listener explore into different musical realms, so the band took advantage of that new element to create a magnificent composition, where Wobbler meets Anekdoten meets King Crimson. As usual, there are different passages or episodes in this one song, so later we can enjoy another great guitar solo than when it finishes, it opens the gates to keyboard fiesta. The song has in fact elements of several bands of the scene, besides the previously mentioned, I could say some Opeth and Porcupine Tree hints are perceived here. An exquisite tune, indeed! The album finishes with "Creature Comforts" whose first minute has electric piano giving a jazzy feeling; later it becomes rockier and the song takes a new direction, and though it is great as always, I could say this is not my favorite at all.

What a great surprise has been listening to Ovrfwrd, so if you have the chance, please go and discover their music because it is worth it and a great addition to your prog rock collection. My final grade would be 4 stars.

Enjoy it!

 Beyond the Visible Light by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.66 | 13 ratings

BUY
Beyond the Visible Light
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars One of the advantages of the internet, is that now it is easier to know new bands and projects because people recommend them to you, or because the same artist contacts you in order to introduce you to their music. This was the case of Ovrfwrd, a band from the United States that is entering to this prog rock realm and aims to be heard around the world, which is why keyboard player Chris Malmgren contacted me and introduced me to their two albums, thanks Chris. The debut album is entitled Beyond the Visible Light, released in 2014 which features 5 solid compositions that range from 8 to 11 minutes, making a total time of 47 minutes.

They create interesting instrumental prog rock that of course has some influences from 70s bands, however they have managed to create a fresh sound that purely belongs to this millennium. The album opens with the aggressive 'Can We Keep The Elephant?' which shows since the beginning that the band has a prog orientation and that the members are great on their respective instruments. It has several changes but always keeps a fast and exciting sound which in moments explodes and becomes even more powerful. They let us know their compositional skills here, because the song is simply great, a wonderful introduction to their music.

'Stones of Temperance' has a softer start, however little by little the intensity increases, adding some dark and somber motifs that create a dense atmosphere splendidly played by the piano. After three minutes there is a moment of silence, a stop, and then a new structure begins to be built up, adding some highs and lows with nice atmospheric keyboards contrasted by raw guitars. It is once again a great song that would appeal to any prog fan. The longest track is 'Raviji', a song that has some spacey atmospheres, heavy prog moments and even a sound that reminds me of Rush, mainly due to the guitars. This is a true progressive rock song, and there are parts that it will make you remember some older acts of this genre, also, Ovrfwrd manage to make several changes without losing the path, I mean, they never break the song to make it less interesting, no, all the changes keep us interested and waiting for a new surprise.

'The Man With No Shoes' is truly interesting, a salad of sounds, a roller-coaster of emotions exquisitely represented with energy and cadency, creating textures and notes that are closer to the jazzy side of rock, but also using some psych elements that give as a result this intrepid heavy progressive rock music. The last song is 'Darkest Star' which starts soft with guitar and synth, reminding me of some Crimsonian impros, or Fripp-alike soundscapes. Later as usual, the song morphs several times, giving us a great mixture of sounds that in the end could please any progressive rock fan.

An excellent debut album from this US band whose music has to be heard by more and more people, I hope so. My final grade, 4 stars,

Enjoy it!

 Beyond the Visible Light by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.66 | 13 ratings

BUY
Beyond the Visible Light
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The debut album by the Minneapolis band Ovrfwrd might not have been so impressive had the session gone as planned. But the 11th-hour loss of their vocalist (a literal loss: he never showed up at the recording studio) was a blessing in disguise to the embryonic group, suddenly reconfigured as a much stronger instrumental quartet.

Bands like Ovrfwrd express the higher ideals of Progressive Rock by honoring the adventurous spirit of the early 1970s, but in a modern vernacular more genuinely progressive than Prog. This is a group that insists on playing music requiring more than three working brain cells (to perform, and appreciate), at the same time making it sound entirely unforced.

First albums by new bands aren't supposed to be this adept. The oddly-titled "Can We Keep the Elephant?" is an assertive curtain-raiser, but the music really begins to gel in "Stones of Temperance", smoothly juxtaposing lovely unplugged moments against harder amplified sounds, in a heavy yet melodic workout highlighting the natural interplay between all four players.

The even more cinematic "Raviji", at eleven-plus minutes the album's longest track, is an obvious highlight, demonstrating the forceful energy of the quartet with enough variation in mood and emotion to fill several different songs (on several different albums). Ditto "The Man With No Shoes", and especially the slow but dramatic jam in its second half, achieving a sense of dramatic nuance most proggers yearn for but rarely attain.

The album was recorded more or less live in the studio, with discreet overdubs: a great way to maintain the essential energy and rapport of a genuine band. The songwriting is perhaps not as spontaneous as it would later become. Instead, this debut effort was all about the new ensemble asking, "Who are we? Where are we going with this?" (quoting ace drummer Rikki Davenport in a recent video interview). The answer was an exhilarating process of discovery, for the group and for listeners, before the epiphany of the "Fantasy Absent Reason" album, released a year later.

Their name may resemble a failed Scrabble hand: never a decent vowel when you need one. But Ovrfwrd succeeded in making a strong first impression, with better to come.

 Fantasy Absent Reason by OVRFWRD album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.77 | 21 ratings

BUY
Fantasy Absent Reason
Ovrfwrd Heavy Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Describing the music of Ovrfwrd presents a welcome challenge, worthy of the music itself. The Minnesota quartet plays a muscular throwback style of rich, instrumental '70s rock, complex and exciting but without sounding retro in any way, all built around tightly woven Crimsonesque knots of electric guitars and keyboards: no vocals, and better off that way. It's no surprise that the group is currently touring in support of Tony Levin's STICK MEN trio, obvious kindred spirits offering an ironclad endorsement by association.

But calling it Heavy Prog only waves a hand in the general direction of the band's musical ambitions. There's plenty of finesse to match their unmistakable power: the slow, romantic vistas setting up "Dust Nova"; the elegant ambiance of "Creature Comforts". And is that a genuine flute I hear, augmenting the agitated intro to "Utopia Planitia"?

The extended title track at the top of the album is a declaration of principles, all by itself: only 16-minutes long (a blink of the eye, by Prog standards), but able to shift the listener's ears sideways around his head when played at a suitable volume (i.e. loud). Note the gentle harpsichord keyboard patch, before the power chords begin their relentless descent: a moment of pure Prog opposition, leading into a smoky after-hours organ vamp and another edgy guitar solo. Almost immediately we're grasping for toeholds on constantly shifting yet entirely comfortable terrain, in what has to be one of the more exciting album openers of the previous year.

All the music was tightly arranged, but the quartet knows how to jam as well, in an intuitive way that renders the effort all but invisible. Listen to the groovy "Brother Jack McDuff" (presumably named for '60s jazz organist and bandleader Eugene 'Jack' McDuffy), with its bluesy early Tull vibe, complete with quasi-woodwind keyboard setting. Here and elsewhere the music reveals an occasional jazzy accent, in this instance set to a swinging 3/4 time signature (except when it morphs gracefully to 11/16). But it certainly isn't Jazz.

And it isn't quite Rock either, despite the unmistakable Hard Rock authority of the songwriting and performances. My advice is to stop fussing about labels (a difficult task, for any true Proghead) and simply enjoy the music. Even without the necessary vowels, Ovrfwrd is one of those rare bands able to challenge a listener's expectations, and thus offer legitimate hope for an increasingly dumbed-down millennium.

Thanks to rdtprog for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives