Erik Norlander - Seas of Orion - 2004
If you´ve read last Erik´s interview for progVisions you already know that he was going to release a solo album with a more electronic approach. So, and with a different label, Erik releases “Seas of Orion”. Here Erik is the only responsible of composing, producing and playing. Only, and fortunately, he counts with drummer and percussionist Greg Ellis in order to reinforce rhythms. The weak point of this kind of releases is the use of rhythm machines and programming that cools down the songs.
The opening track “Fanfare for absent friends” (5:51), dedicated to WTC victims, is far from electronic sound and is closer to the typical progressive sound of this keyboardist, very epic and pomp, and influenced by Keith Emerson. I think this track would have been released in a “normal” album with guitar and bass.
The spacey sound arrives with “City of Living Machines” (7:28) and we can notice influences of artists like Vangelis, Timescape, Ashra, Tangerine Dream or even Tomita and certain Giorgio Moroder´s hints, everything with a wonderful sound and splendid skill. “New Gotham Prime” (7:39) follows this path I consider a little bit out of time and out fashioned, and my interest starts with the spacey and floating atmospheres of “Oasis is Stasis” (6:08).
Where the album reaches its peak is in “Adrift on the Fire Seas of Orion´s Shield”. More than twenty two minutes of sound experiments and brilliant atmospheres that remind me of Berlin school (Schulze, Froese and Co) blended with the attitude of Norlander´s keyboards. Only this long track deserves the whole album.
The closing track is “Opera Sauvage: Hymne” (2:43), a cover of Vangelis´ classic song. It´s not bad, but I think it doesn´t fit here.
In short I think Norlander´s baptism of fire with electronic music can be rewarded with three stars that sums up an album with two tracks out of space (the first one is not bad –it´s really good- but fit better in a rocker album; and Vangelis cover), two tracks out of time, and two very serious approaches to electronic music with lots of quality.