Progressive rock in the grand tradition of the early nineteen seventies.The first thing that struck me about Powerplay is that this album proudly builds upon the towering heritage of prog - no apologies, no watering down, no blending of more recent genres to 'update' the music. This is the album that Yes should have released: glorious, expansive, energetic, fragile, huge. I have to say that Fröberg and company have restored my interest in the genre to a degree far greater than I would have imagined possible forty years down the line. The melodies are strong and complex: the structures effortlessly encompass dreamy rock meandering with slide guitar, smooth synths and soft drums; aggressive sections with pleasingly astounding fiddly guitar work, squealing moog, heaving bass and vocal harmonies; acoustic twelve string passages and a voice with the occasional delicacy of Jon Anderson.It's important to point out though, that working within a genre established decades back has not resulted in an album of rehashing old material or imitating the sounds of others - no, Powerplay feels one hundred percent authentic, somehow like this band was there at the time, riding the crest of the prog wave, only somehow they're doing it now. An incredible feat to achieve - wow!
Powerplay comes in a glossy grey digipack. Cover art is of simple graphic shapes and text highlighting the embossed titles - Powerplay in deep purple. On the rear, track titles scatter in the same purple hue among the larger grey letters of Powerplay. The inside spread is a grungy monochrome montage of urban degradation. A sixteen page booklet lurks inside the left panel, with matching cover. Within, the layout is again of glossy metallic grey: lyrics to each track are presented in full; portrait photographs of the band, each sliced vertically in half edging the pages. The central spread holds an orb-like image of the whole band with thanks and credits on either side.
Powerplay is the second album from Flower Kings vocalist Hasse Fröberg and his group Musical Companion, released on Reingold Records. The Swedish band are well known to progressive rock fans, carrying on the grand tradition of seventies giants Yes, Rush, Queen and of course The Flower Kings. What immediately appeals to ears familiar with the original prog rock era is the commitment to the seventies ideal - that ambitious grandeur that many of the pioneering acts seem to struggle to recapture now decades later. I can honestly say that I am completely blown away with this reawakening. Clearly accomplished musicians in standard five piece format, this band have high ideals and all of the skills necessary to deliver. The band's website plays the music for you and the label page provides additional info.