Fractal Mirror - Beyond Borders,
I enjoyed this Dutch band’s fourth album much more than I expected to, so was looking forward to this one with interest, especially when I looked at the line-up. The core of Leo Koperdraat and Frank Urbaniak is bolstered by the return of founder member Ed Van Haagen on bass (he contributed a few keyboards on the last one but bass was provided by Brett Kull who had a major role) while the ‘new boy’ is none other than Gareth Cole (Tom Slatter Band, The Rube Goldberg Machine, One Sided Horse, Whitewater) who is a fine guitarist indeed. Brett’s role on this album has been reduced to providing some backing vocals and mixing, with everything else undertaken by the quartet.
I would have liked to have heard more from Gareth, as when the guitars are to the fore is when this album really comes alive, as there are times when it is just too middle of the road for me and there is not enough edge and bite. But, this is a solid Crossover album in that it brings in plenty of melody and pop sensibilities and combine that with prog, and there are times when it is almost singer/songwriter in its approach with plenty of harmonies. Just listen to “Kingdom of the Lost” for example, as it is pleasant and gentle, relaxing and lulling with some classic keyboard sounds and while there are some nods to neo here and there this song could easily have been recorded 50 years ago. “Pleasant” is probably the best way of describing this, as it passes by easily without creating too many waves and while not exactly essential there is also plenty of polish which results in a prog album which will not frighten off the neighbours. Easy to listen to, without falling too far into the trap of easy listening, this is an album which can easily be enjoyed and sometimes that is all one wants.