Norwegian progressive rockers, Magic Pie, return with their fifth album, appropriately called Fragments of the 5th Element. As those familiar with Luc Besson’s fine 1997 cult (and rather bizarre) Sci-Fi film ‘The Fifth Element’ will know the ‘Fifth Element’ turned out to be ‘Love’. It appears that ‘Love’ in many forms, both positive and negative, is also explored on this release. Magic Pie have developed a winning formula of high energy, ornate rock with great harmony vocals and excellent but not excessive musicianship over the years, and on this album they do not mess with that recipe.
So what goes in to making a tasty ‘Magic Pie’ album:
- First warm the oven with a history of quality previous releases.
- Whilst you’re doing that prepare the album in a well-oiled studio with some skilful musical compositions, whisking together ear worm melodies with flowing harmonies and add some hard rock textures.
- Next pour in some fluid, rolling keyboards with some delicate touches.
- Chop up some sizzling electric guitar riffs and add them to the mixture.
- Cook them over a medium heat for a while, stirring regularly with lashings of powerful drumming and crisp bass playing.
- Cook that potent mixture at high heat, dousing them liberally with flourishes and solos in abundance – don’t hold back, it’s a spicy concoction and needs plenty of bite and flavour.
- Be careful not to overheat the mixture, stirring it regularly with a light touch occasionally to help bring out the contrasting flavours of light and dark.
- When that’s all simmering away nicely crack open a nice bottle of red wine (or a decent beer if you insist) and just have a drink whilst you enjoy the sheer exuberance and brio in their tasty offering… after all this is meant to be FUN!
- Chop up a variety of words, both insightful and humourous, blend them in to a smooth, catchy sauce and spread all over the music, being careful not to overwhelm the tastes oozing out of the music.
- As usual with special recipes there’s always an added ingredient which really helps it stand out:
– for this Magic Pie that is the addition of firstly some high quality Icelandic lead vocals which gives the whole thing a heightened sense of heated emotions and yet some subtle sensitivity. This essential element is tastefully enhanced with some additional sweet Queen-like Norwegian harmony vocals.
- Once you’ve mixed and thoroughly heated all those elements transfer them into a oven proof dish in to the pre-heated oven / studio and cook at about 150 decibels for 40-50 minutes.
If you follow that recipe you will produce a delicious Magic Pie, filled with exciting driving rock, sweet harmonies and interesting observations on Love.
The main character of The Man Who Had It All is Jeremiah, who is someone who lived life very much to the full and has died but looks back with no regrets. This is a real rumbustious opening with a fanfare of keyboards from Erling Henanger, with electric guitars and harmony voices. Just like the subject of the song Magic Pie certainly throw it all in to this song!
Similarly, P & C is a spectacular heavy driving rock song, focusing on ‘Pleasure and Consequences’, featuring a jazzy keyboard run and then an interlude with a more languid guitar solo. This is a song with touches of humour as the main character deals with the consequences of his pleasure – ‘Bulldozers truckin’ through my Head’! Consequently he decides that he will change. The main refrain and melody returns with a vengeance – this is what Magic Pie do so well – writing great melodies and hooks and injecting exciting rock passages.
Love is portrayed in a very different guise in Table For Two, which is a love song about the love between a husband and wife and features a beautifully fluid, distorted guitar from Kim Steinberg threading through the piece. Steinberg’s versatility is shown on Touched By An Angel which has a fine blues guitar feel. As the rest of this particular Magic Pie is particularly spicy this more restrained blues song is a nice change of pace and intensity. Eirikur Hauksson, originally from Iceland, displays his sheer vocal class in a performance demonstrating his great range and power. In the quieter moments there is a wholly unexpected resemblance to David Bowie in his ‘Wild Is The Wind’ days.
The album is completed by the gargantuan epic The Hedonist, in which perhaps the main protagonist loves life a bit too much… and may be starting to realise there must be more to life. This is Magic Pie to the Maximum – there is an ensemble fanfare and then a crunching, dirty sounding guitar intertwines with a writhing synth line over some great drumming and bass from Jan Torkild Johannessen and Lars Petter Holstad… and that’s all just the opening overture! The rest of this churning, bubbling epic flies along with a bewildering array of light and dark sections with characteristic Magic Pie flamboyant, skilful musicianship. In fact it can all feel a bit too overwhelming at times and like a good cake it may be better sometimes to have smaller slices rather than the whole thing in one go – but it’s still delicious even if it can leave you feeling rather ‘stuffed’!
Many Magic Pie fans will love this album – it’s effectively the same stylish, powerful recipe they have perfected so well over the years. However, some may be starting to feel just where do they go next – there’s only so many times you can have the same recipe, isn’t there? Nevertheless, if you’re looking for well-crafted rock songs, with pounding rhythms, scintillating solos, crunching riffs and hook filled melodies then Magic Pie have again provided a fine creation to tingle your aural taste buds.
01. The Man Who Had It All (5:25)
02. P & C (5:33)
03. Table For Two (4:05)
04. Touched By An Angel (8:02)
05. The Hedonist (22:58)
Total Time – 46:02
Eirikur Hauksson – Vocals
Lars Petter Holstad – Bass, Backing Vocals
Erling Henanger – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Jan Torkild Johannessen – Drums, Percussion
Eirik Hannsen – Vocals, Acoustic Guitars
Kim Steinberg – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Karisma Records
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 30th August 2019
– Motions of Desire (2005)
– Circus of Life (2007)
– The Suffering Joy (2011)
– King for a Day (2015)
– Fragments of the 5th Element (2019)