It’s well known that I like a bit of jazz/prog fusion (Alessandro Bertoni anyone?) so, when Michael Schetter (who appears on the album as Michael Pruchnicki but, let’s not get into that!) asked me if I’d review the eponymous album from his project Relocator, how could I refuse? And, when I found out that it features ex Dream Theater member and all round keyboard genius Derek Sherinian it was an absolute no brainer!
Relocator was released in 2010 and had a troubled gestation. The band, Relocator, were formed in 2004 and originally envisioned as a full live band but, after many line up changes and instability, they self destructed in 2008. In 2009 original members Stefan Artwin (guitars and programming) and Michael Pruchnicki (bass and fretless bass) revived the project to finish the songs they had worked on previously. Joined by Bartek Strycharski (electric violin), Frank Tinge (drums and percussion) and special guest, legendary ex Dream Theater keyboard player Derek Sherinian (all keyboards), they now had the line up to complete the first Relocator record.
Now, let’s get this straight, all the musicians on this record are extremely talented but there is no getting away from the fact that this is, most definitely , an album heavily influenced by the keyboard sounds of Derek Sherinian and, in my humble opinion, there is nothing wrong with that. It is key to the feel of the record, a complex but accessible mix of prog rock and jazz fusion that, for lovers of this type of music (like myself), is a little gem of musical excellence.
Red Vibes is the entree into the record, hard edged guitar kicking it off before the keyboard takes the lead, bass and drums completing a tidy package that ebbs and flows with a delightful guitar break in the middle complemented by the clever addition of the electric violin. An intricate keyboard solo fleshes out the second half of the song that never misses a beat. A staccato keyboard introduces Biosphere before a crunching guitar joins the fray, a delightful guitar lick gives an almost lyrical feel to the song. We then have the guitar and keyboard trading riffs and breaks perfectly, working together to give the song a strong rhythmic feel, you feel that these guys are all at the top of their game. The title track, Relocator, has much more of jazz influenced feel to it than the first two tracks. A great piece of keyboard work in the middle of the song is enhanced by Artwin’s guitar licks and energetic fretwork. The shortest track on the album kicks into gear with some heavier guitar and keyboard work, a fantastic guitar and keyboard intertwined run finishes of the song brilliantly. Proxima begins with a quite heavy keyboard intro giving an almost prog metal feel to the song. Sherinian’s keyboard skills being shown off with style here, the track has an industrial style to it, great guitar work backed up by the excellent rhythm section of Tinge and Pruchnicki.
The second part of the record begins with Aavishkar, more than a hint of far eastern influence from Strycharski and his electric violin start the song before a heavy guitar riff and crunching keyboards hit you hard. There is a great keyboard section backed by the heavy guitar that is mixed in with some slower paced sections. This is a complex track where all the musicians work fantastically well together and has a great feel running throughout, there seems to be an equal prominence metered out to guitar and keyboard as they entwine in an elaborate musical dance. 13 Reasons sees keyboard and crunching guitar work together to great effect, that industrial, almost prog metal, style in evidence again. A great, soaring, keyboard flits in and out of the heavier sections where crunching guitar and intense keyboards trade off each other, no letting up until the abrupt ending. That more jazz influenced feeling joins us again at the intro to Urban Blue before the much heavier style comes back into play. Another great track enhanced by the technical skill of these great musicians, intense keyboard wizardy complemented by the hard edged guitar sound and thunderous drumming. We now come to the end of this polished gem of an album and the suitably titled final track, The Alchemist. A nice, slow paced intro, bass heavy, aided and abetted by the stylish keyboard sound of Derek Sherinian. Not for long though, crunching guitars herald the change in pace and focus to a much heavier style. Artwin’s guitar is given the lead for this part of the song. That intense keyboard sound can’t be held back for long though as Sherinian turns it up to 11 and has a great running battle with the guitar. The song moves in and out of fast and slow paced sections, a fantastic piece of music in the middle where the electric violin is key and brings something else to this jazz/prog melting pot. That great guitar is always ready to come and join the fray and lift the pace again and join the keyboard in an epic instrumental collaboration. This track defines the whole album, a fantastic mix of musical styles all glued together by that crunching guitar and magical keyboard right up to the end.
Relocator is a technical tour de force, a great instrumental album that fans of the genre should love. Please sir, can I have some more??