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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Magellan

Impossible Figures

Review by Steve Alspach

Free of label problems, the fifth album by Magellan, Impossible Figures, is a welcome sight for fans of progressive rock's Bee Gees - Brothers Gardner. With Trent on keyboards and vocals and Wayne on guitars, basses, and backing vocals, and Jason Gianni filling in most ably on drums, this album serves up a healthy dose of high-energy, complex rock numbers that demand the listener's attention and never fail to please. Fans of Yes, ELP, and Kansas will do well to give Impossible Figures a listen.

Track by Track Review
Gorilla With a Pitchfork
One of several short tracks on this album, this is an instrumental that sets the mood with punctuated synthesizer chords.
Killer of Hope
The longest track at 10:03, this number starts with some heavy playing from Wayne on crunch guitar. There is then an ELP-like break, but then the band goes back to the crunch. There is also a section of soloing - first the Hammond organ, then the guitar. (This track, perhaps more than any other song, features the guitar most prominently.) At 8:20, there is finally a hook that gives some sense of normalcy to it all.
Back 16
The most curious track on this album. The first part is a solo piano piece that has its roots in the baroque area. The second part features a slightly melancholy horn section (consisting of Trent multi-tracked on trombone) that sounds like something from one of the early Chicago albums.
Late For Church
The drums come racing out at the start like a speed metal band, but the song then slows a bit as Trent plays an anthemic theme on synthesizer. The song is a mix between Wayne's heavy guitar riffing and Trent's Emerson-like chord progressions.
Confessor's Overture
Had Rabin-era Yes kept Rick Wakeman as its keyboardist, this may have been the result. Starting with a short-but-punchy opening like, the song then switches into a flashy solo piano piece. This 2:24 instrumental then finishes with the band playing on a syncopated riff.
Hymn for a Heathen
The first part of this song features the vocals (and those harmonies!) with a piano, perhaps the most straight-forward verse structure of the album, but the second half lets the band cut loose
A World Groove
This does have a world-music flavor to it with African-style drumming and Celtic whistles. The song, though, pays homage to various types of music, everything from "Wagner in Israel" to the Beatles and Ellington kicking *ss. The second part of the song shows Trent Gardner sharing his world views through the lyrics. The Gardner brothers always were world-conscious, and this song reflects their views.
Counterpoints
This song has some rather funky places, but the chorus shows a broad-sounding Kansas influence. Gianni lays down a heavy backbeat throughout.
Feel the Cross
The first part has fuzz-laden guitars but the percussion work remains light. The second part of this song has a warmer, acoustic-guitar feel to it. There is a slide guitar solo here and a bass solo as well, and the entire section sounds like a Steve Howe workout.
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