Think Tank 2016
Out of this world yet never elusive, ivories virtuoso checks back from the virtual reality.
It took Erik Norlander unexpectedly long to explore ensemble possibilities with ROCKET SCIENTISTS and pick up where "The Galactic Collective" – despite its title, a solo endeavor – left off. Not that the keyboardist’s various projects didn’t demonstrate certain continuity, but something more single-minded (if such a concept is applicable to this artist’s multi-faceted ventures) has been long overdue. Perhaps, Erik felt the same, which can be the underlying motive/motif for “The Galaxy Collectors” where the debt is paid on demand, and an alternative mix of the epic available as a free download, as heavy riffs, caressed by a cello, serve as a channel for cinematic slide towards organ-swinging otherworldly rockarama.
Instrumental drama aside, there’s sweet sadness to it all, “The Party’s Overture” setting the tone for the entire journey once a guitar wave has ebbed away and left piano eggshells on the shore of nocturnal eternity before synthesizers begin to glimmer with excitement and anxiety. Within an earshot from the party to departure, the chamber solemnity of “Suitcase And Umbrella” could be unbearably painful if Moog wasn’t weaving a hopeful thread through its goodbye, yet the vibrant desert mirage that is “Unearthly” is very down-to-earth and trance-like. So when Lana Lane’s voice and Jeff Kollman’s guitar haunt the title track, desperation and bliss strike a balance for Norlander to speed the flow and start a gracious dance into the sunset, although “El Gran Final” – the rhythm section of Mark Matthews and Nick LePar anchoring the hard rock charge to the ground – is blowing the quiet to exquisitely sharpened pieces, the splinters of what’s run across the grooves before.
That’s why this is an album which doesn’t try to be progressive; in reining in all tentative orchestral moves, it just is – surreal, if tangible. A milestone on the route to paradise.