Theo - 'The Game Of Ouroboros' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 05, 2015    
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This has turned out to be a nice surprise and an album well worth investigating.

I broke one my cardinal rules with this album, I read the PR blurb before I'd actually listened to the music. Consequently I was less than enthusiastic after learning that Jim Alfredson, the man behind Theo, is an acclaimed Jazz Hammond Organ player. Just the thought of Jazz makes my blood run cold, however I needn't have worried because Alfredson wanted to try his hand at Prog and he's produced an album that ticks that box and been one I have enjoyed a great deal. There are some Jazzy motifs but nothing that's going to frighten the horses, let alone me. He's gathered around him bassist Gary Davenport, Kevin DuPree on drums and guitarist Jake Reichbart.

The title track puts me in mind of Steely Dan during its early stages, moving into sections that are redolent of RPWL before concluding with splendidly melodic guitar (courtesy of guest Zach Zunis) and organ solos. 'The Blood That Floats My Throne' has a bleak ambient opening which builds until a circular keyboard pattern takes control; again RPWL are a touchpoint. The track suddenly bursts out on a flurry of drums and towards its close some monumental organ and Mellotron sections brings the work of Rick Wakeman to mind.

'Creatures Of Our Comfort' has a Reggae style beat that makes me think of SD again, particularly on the verses, while the processed vocals (not something I like) on the chorus are unusually effective. This track features a very strong vocal arrangement.

A lovely piano refrain sets the tone on 'These Are The Simple Days', the theme develops as other instruments join in. It's a composition in the singer/song-writer style while a delicious fretless bass gets its moment in the spotlight. The arrangement is terrific with the opening theme closing the song following a splendid synth solo.

'Idle Worship' is a thirteen-minute epic which hits Emerson, Lake & Palmer territory initially before heading off in all directions and styles, all of which are very neatly sewn together to make a cohesive experience; without a doubt it's the Proggy-ist of the tracks on offer. The album closes with another epic, 'Exile', which again is a song that builds from a gentle beginning; once more they deliver strong themes and refrains and meld the different styles into a pleasing whole. This includes a lengthy instrumental passage which wouldn't be out of place as a Genesis outtake from their mid-1970's period. Another guest lends a hand here with Greg Nagy providing chunky rhythm guitar and backing vocals.

Initial concerns aside this has turned out to be a nice surprise and an album well worth investigating.

Gary Marshall

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