Zen - flipmode / mmm bongo

One of the less pleasant tasks about describing any given album is to put it into a context. Not because it is a difficult part of the proceedings in normal cases, but because one tends to repeat oneself while doing so. There's a limited amount of references to be made after all, be it from a stylistic point of view or one that draws in references towards well known artists. In the case of Reform we're dealing with the odd one out however, as for my part I haven't quite managed to find any useful comparisons one way or the other. Jazzrock and fusion are just as much a part of the proceedings as psychedelic rock in this case, and there's also room for a few symphonic oriented escapades. As such, one might describe Reform as a band that will make the dedicated music fan reflect upon just how few alterations that needs to be implemented to switch from one style to the other, and just how closely related the aforementioned types of music really are. For some, this production might be a real eye-opener I'd guess. But the core foundation of this band's output is placed well inside the jazzrock universe. Wandering piano motifs and elegant guitar soloing the name of the game, with steady but accomplished bass and drums underscoring. Mostly instrumental in nature, vocals are limited to two compositions. The first of the two CDs that makes up this package is the one where the borders between jazzrock and symphonic art rock appears to be explored most profoundly. The majority of pieces purebred jazzrock 70's style in expression, with bass, piano and guitar taking turns being the driving instrument, and with a neat additional level consisting of instrumental details rather than lead motifs occasionally taking over as thematic elements. But also when the lead motifs are more substantial in nature and catered for by one instrument only, the use of subtle fragmented instrument details and sounds are utilized throughout as a manner in which to add variation to the proceedings. Dampened arrangement details that will please many dedicated music fans who really like to listen closely and intently to their music. But the disc also sports a few items where the keyboards gets to have more of a saying, and in a symphonic oriented manner at that. Moments of pastoral, simple beauty to more majestic constructions, first and foremost taken on in the second half of the first CD. The second disc in this package appears to examine the borders between psychedelic rock and jazzrock closer. Again a disc made up by some purebred jazzrock efforts and others with a style less easy to define, and with what to my ears appears to be a slight emphasis on sequences with an improvisational nature to them. The most profound instance of the jazzrock and psychedelic rock blend is found at the very end, the close to twenty minutes long epic "From the Hilltop and Beyond" showcasing just how little separates the two styles in question in a beautiful and sophisticated manner. And while this nature of their music is explored more intently on this second disc, there's a fair amount of this case to be found on the initial disc too of course. "Reveries of Reform" isn't as divided in sound between the two CDs as one might get the impression of while reading my descriptions, it's more a case of a slight emphasis on the different aspects that marks a subtle difference between them. A general approach throughout this production is the way in which just about everything has been given a subdued character. Contrasting instrumental motifs are dampened, rougher sounds subdued, the arrangements polished. Those who are in need of dramatic movements and inserts will be left wanting, those who desire raw emotional takes will be disappointed. This is an album where the subtle details rule, set within a polished, refined framework. Music for the sophisticated listener one might say, and while refined in character the music is also fairly accessible throughout. Easy on the ears and the mind, yet with enough advanced features to satisfy the dedicated fans that really enjoy immersing themselves in whatever music they listen to at any given time. And as admirable as this approach is, this also does leave an impression of this production being ever so slightly one-dimensional, at least on a superficial level. An aspect of this double CD that may limit the band's audience somewhat in progressive rock circles, but which also might pull in a substantially larger crowd from a more mainstream oriented audience. Overall "Reveries of Reform" is a solid effort, and one that should appeal to art rock fans that appreciates a polished sound and smooth arrangements, compositions with plenty of subtle details to be enjoyed and of a generally accessible nature. With jazzrock as the stylistic foundation, with liberal flavouring of psychedelic rock and occasional excursions to the borders of the symphonic art rock universe. social review comments | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, July 6, 2013 | Review this album | Report (Review #992625)