Intelligent Music is a Bulgarian production company, established and owned by Milen Vrabevski, MD – composer, musical producer, and patron of the arts. He has overseen the previous three albums of this ilk, which appear to have attracted some quite big names, to sing at least. On this album Sorcery Inside, their fourth, there is Joseph Williams from Toto, Carl Sentence who now fills Dan Hegarty’s shoes in what’s left of Nazareth, and John Payne who was in the other Asia line-up.
The biggest name, however, is Simon Philips, producer, arranger, and top drawer drummer, who has graced the progressive rock scene for many a year. Listen, for example, to Mike Rutherford’s Smallcreeps Day or Islands by Mike Oldfield, or the Jon Anderson song Animation, superb stuff. He did have a surprising tenure with Toto for a few albums and this is probably where he found a fondness for the type of music that this album presents. The entire album is officially on social media and any money paid for the physical CD is donated to the Bulgarian Memory Foundation. Very altruistic, and charitable.
However, as a product there are serious doubts and it is probably not going to appeal too much to readers of The Progressive Aspect. Whilst admiration for this benevolent project is to be admired, the word ‘Bland’ certainly rears its head.
Starting with the AOR side of The Alan Parson’s Project-like Yesterdays That Mattered and then seamlessly turning into a latter-day Toto track, one is left with a feeling that you might as well put on a Toto record (or not), and that applies to much here. The presence of Toto’s current singer, Joseph Williams, merely endorses this opinion.
‘Slightly sanitised heads down boogie with Philip’s kit muted and held back’ describes the next track and then, by As if, the gospel-like hand clapping, audience punching the air “Come on! yeah! etc.” type ending really does have you rummaging for the twice cooked baked product (it takes the biscuit…).
Viva is like a Santana tribute band playing the stuff that works on the chicken in the basket cabaret circuit, and is well played and jolly but… Many of the tracks start with rocky road promise but the image of the serious pouts on the players’ faces is difficult to wipe out of your mind, and you’re just waiting to see what the next tack will bring. 4/4 rock, slows down for a bit, a few “Whoas”, back to the beat, finish.
By the last track, Love, the motivation for maybe waving your lighters to and fro with slow nods of understanding the surrealism of the underlying metaphor has, quite frankly, been rinsed out of your soul.
Sorcery Inside will appeal to the thin architectural layer of AOR lovers who like their music in a regular time signature and do not want to be spooked by any nasty noises or boos from the room where the lights have failed. Have a listen though, it’s on YouTube, and remember that if you actually want the silver shiny thing, it’s all for a good cause.
01. Yesterdays That Mattered (3:38)
02. Every Morning (3:50)
03. As if (3:57)
04. No One Falls Behind (3:32)
05. Viva (3:28)
06. Looking for the Feeling (4:15)
07. Night’s Calling (3:53)
08. Slipping Away (3:21)
09. Light (3:26)
10. Granted (3:49)
11. Life To Linger (3:57)
12. Love (5:07)
Total Time – 46:13
Jesse Siebenberg – Guitars
Dave Palmer – Keyboards
Ivo Zvezdomirov – Bass
Simon Phillips – Drums, Percussion
Bisser Ivanov – Guitars, Mandolin
Carl Sentance – Vocals
Richard Grisman – Vocals
John Payne – Vocals
Joseph Williams – Vocals
Bobby Kosatka – Backing Vocals, Ad Libs
Lina Nikol – Backing Vocals, Ad Libs
Vlado Djambazov – Orchestra Conductor
Sofia Gospel Choir – Conducted by Geri Balevska
Steven Archikor – Soloist
Record Label: Intelligent Music Project
Date of Release: February 2019