Published on 20th August 2016
Erik Norlander – Surreal
Erik Norlander is one of progressive rock’s most prolific keyboardists. With the loss of Keith Emerson earlier this year, the need for creative keyboardists for the future has increased but Norlander is also a link to the Moog era of keyboards and synthesizers and supports the non-profit Bob Moog Foundation, acting as both an artist and advisor.
Californian Norlander has been involved with music for decades and has played with some of the best bands in the progressive genre. His work with his wife, Lana Lane, has produced over 20 albums, he has also recorded eight albums with Rocket Scientists and nine as a solo artist, the tenth being Surreal with which he has scored another masterpiece.
Amazing and instantly captivating, Surreal is an excellent follow-up to 2009’s The Galactic Collective. The album opens peacefully with The Party’s Overture as sounds of the tide and soft keyboards filtering through the call of gulls taking wing. Then the drama ignites into space with pipe organ and soaring lead guitars, supported by bass and power drums, as an anthem arrives from the deep. This is unlike anything that I have heard since Sirenia’s Ducere me in Lucem. A very powerful overture and one of the best songs on the album.
The Galaxy Collectors takes us back to familiar territory and is reminiscent of The Galactic Collective album, only this time with more influence from the electric guitars, drums and deep bass. The Vangelis-like opening is stunning; the pulsing melody and Hammond organ lead a royal charge out of the gate as high synths and guitar help your visions take flight. The sounds of lasers and lightsaber battles will make any Star Wars fan happy.
Suitcase and Umbrella is a slower paced piano and synthesizer piece full of melancholy. It is a deeply emotional instrumental, perfect to accompany thinking or dreaming. The synthesizers and lead guitar blend well to create a comfortable environment where you can escape the present day and dream of a brighter tomorrow.
Unearthly opens with spacey keys, before Middle Eastern rhythms take center stage and replace your visions of space with that of the desert and rolling hills of sand, or maybe it’s roving across a canyon on Mars. After all…what music will we take when we finally land on the Red Planet? I think the astronauts should pack some Norlander, along with some Strauss; Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard and Johann’s The Blue Danube.
The title track is the longest and best song on the album. After beautiful opening piano we get the first words from Lana Lane’s voice:
“Shadows of another life fall across the way
I… I’ve been here before.
In between dreams.
A restless emotion.
And I… I’ll see you again.
Spirits in waves, sky and the ocean.”
The lyrics are perfect and tell a powerful story of memories and emotions that most of us have felt at some time in our lives. The music is moving and the power matches the strength of Lane’s vocal commitment. The keys, synths, bass, drums and lead guitar are a wonder to behold.
El Gran Final filters in through the tail end of Surreal, and the bleed through is cool magic. It opens slowly, but soon goes off like a rocket with powerful and cosmic electronic keyboards, before powerful drums, deep electric bass and lead electric guitars take off like The Blue Angels rising over a lake and veering to miss a mountain. Power…magnified. An excellent finale that is bound to bring you back for more.
This is an excellent and concise power-packed keyboard trip into the clouds. It will set your emotions high and take you back to dreams of deep space. Strap in your easy chair and enjoy the ride.
[A free download of The Galaxy Collectors (Proxima Centauri Mix) is now available at Bandcamp.]
[Also, Professor Mark has spoken to Erik Norlander regaring his career and the Surreal album, you can read the interview HERE.]
01. The Party’s Overture (7:52)
02. The Galaxy Collectors (10:34)
03. Suitcase and Umbrella (7:08)
04. Unearthly (8:48)
05. Surreal (10:46)
06. El Gran Final (11:08)
Total Time – 56:18
Erik Norlander – Keyboards
Mark Matthews – Bass
Nick LePar – Drums
Greg Ellis – Percussion
Alastair Greene – Guitars (tracks 1,2,3,4 & 6)
Lana Lane – Vocals (track 5)
Jeff Kollman – Guitars (track 5)
Mark McCrite – Acoustic Guitar (track 3)
Don Schiff – Cello, Contrabass, Fretless Stick
Record Label: n/a
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 21st 2016