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Retroheads - Retrospective

Retroheads - RetrospectiveFormed in 2003 by self-confessed prog fan, Torre B° Bendixon, Norwegian prog band, Retroheads, wasted little time in recording Torre's compositions resulting in this debut album, Retrospective.

The first thing you when you press 'play' is the classic 70's prog ambience, due in part to the whole gamut of vintage keyboard sounds including Hammond, Mellotron, ARP and Mimi Moog.  The opening track, Earthsong, creates a similar excitement that one achieved in those heady days when, say, Genesis and Pink Floyd were at their most creative.  However, there are plenty of new ideas here with a very present day approach to the halcyon days.  As you will probably have surmised by this point, the band's name, Retroheads, was selected to reflect this nod towards the classic prog sounds.

With the five members of the band coming with experience in rock, pop, jazz, African and World music, all these influences find their way into some of the compositions, which would be of little surprise except that Torre, as previously mentioned, is apparently the sole composer.  A good example of that is Judgement Day which merges all five styles culminating in a Floydian extended instrumental complete with slide guitar and strong hypnotic beat.

The smooth and floaty start to Dreams sounds very modern, with Ann-Kristin Bendixen's angelic vocals wafting over like some warm duvet, until those keyboard sounds and a slight change in tack in the composition, once again catapult you back to that 70's feel.  Then there is World Reveal, which starts in a funky Gentle Giant manner before dipping into fusion along the lines of, say, Shakatak, a touch of Jadis guitar, finishing in an altogether more sombre and modern Camel style (Harbour of Tears, for example).

Starry Night is another combination, this time elements of Canterbury with Tony Banks keyboards and present day European prog in that order.  The intro to Urban Flight Delight reeks of Gentle Giant though the main section has Steely Dan and Pye Hastings style vocals, more short GG bridges and a very Steve Hackett sounding electric guitar piece halfway through leading onto a cool fusion section before returning to the GG reprise.  Nice.

Taking My Time has some strong Genesis influences in terms of composition, sound and vocal harmony style, but again the keyword is 'some'.

Final track, The Fool, has an instantly recognisable keyboard intro, well, the first few seconds anyway, of Camel's Lady Fantasy but it is fair to say that most of the keyboard nuances on this track have the Camel influence.

Retrospective is a fine debut album which should appeal to prog fans of all ages, but especially those of us who can't get enough of those vintage keyboard sounds.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Retroheads

Unicorn Records

 

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