It's impossible to believe that the prog scene let this quiet masterpiece surface with very little adoration. While it's true for Prog Classicists the NeoProg scene (lead by the likes of Marillion, IQ and Pendragon) represents the worst form of flattery, there is a certainty that many of the NeoProg bands have grown to produce respectable, if not excellent music on their own terms.
My opinion of Pendragon is that they improve with each album. I also believe they are making the finest NeoProg on the planet. I want to stress that the new album is only neoprog; symphonic, somewhat repetitive, and often simplistic. And it is also absolutely perfect.
reviewA 76 minute album that is pure beauty from start to finish is a rare find these days. With many years to sculpt their writing and creation of the material, the band, led by guitarist singer Nick Barrett, has tirelessly sculpted a faultless jewel.
There is no denying that Pendragon's members; Peter Gee on Bass, Clive Nolan on Keys, and Fudge Smith on drums are consummate musicians. They have honed a sound that balances all instruments in a tightly knit, cohesive orchestra. Songs tend to be long, well developed and often blend and borrow from each other in a theme-swapping manner.
"If I were the Wind" starts off with soaring keys and sweeping symphonies, ending on a softer note which lingers with track two. The multi-part track 3 takes us all over the place, showcasing the band's diversity. We have layers of vocal backup which reminds me distinctly of Pink Floyd's "Dark side of the Moon".
"A man of Nomadic Traits" starts off acoustically, effectively changing pace for a while. However, at nearly 12 minutes, there is constant growth and development. It's not long before Nolan's Wakeman-esque moog kicks in and the song takes off.
"World's End" in two parts is the last official song on the album. With moody, spacey textures, we're pulled into a recurring theme. Again, the song is a variation on the main theme. A few minutes in and we know it's going to cook like the rest of the album. Part two starts with acoustic piano. A slow refrain-like melody indicates this is definitely the last song. The main theme - slowed down - is milked yet another time, yet surprisingly still works -thanks mostly to Barrett's impeccable lead guitar.
Two acoustic reworks of popular favorite closes the album off as bonus tracks. This is an album that you have to listen from beginning to end to get the maximum effect. I've liked the album from first listen, and like it both equally and greater with each subsequent listen.
Do I really like "Not of this World" this much? It's my favorite for 2001 and perhaps the best thing we've seen since the heyday of progressive rock. It may not be for everyone, but for those who appreciate melodic, symphonic rock, it is the best album of it's kind.