Marquette - Into The Wild,
This is the second album from Marquette, the brainchild of keyboard player, Markus Roth who is probably best known for Horizontal Ascension (melodic prog rock) and Force of Progress (instrumental prog, metal, jazz fusion). His approach to this album is to reduce the number of notes being played in the instrumental sections to give it a more mainstream sound, and while the debut was a two-man project with associated guests he says that it has now become more of a group. Although not a concept album as such, it was inspired by the life of Christopher McCandless who travelled through the US with minimal equipment and no money in a quest to become one with nature, and apparently starved to death in Alaska aged just 24.
I know this has been receiving good reviews in some areas, but I cannot help thinking that the best thing about this release is the artwork, which is quite powerful. There are long instrumental sections, which are preferable to the vocals as Maurizio Menendez sometimes sings in a style that is almost talking, and this just does not work for me at all. But musically this contains sections which are almost muzak, often repetitive, and frequently feel forced and laboured. If Roth really has made a conscious effort to make this more palatable to a wider audience, then he really should not have bothered. There are undoubtedly some great musicians playing on this, but for me it really does feel like an opportunity wasted as there is a lack of coherency, and one soon starts to wonder when it going to end. There are a couple of long tracks on here, one at more than 14 minutes and one at 19, but just making them long does not mean they will be any good. It is a shame as there are some really interesting passages and interplay at times, especially when the guitar and keyboards set up some duels and runs, but it is just not enough to make the album sufficiently enjoyable as it lacks cohesion throughout.