Instrumental progressive metal with a broad keyboard range
Relocator is a project blending the jazz-fusion of the seventies and the instrumental metal of the shredding guitarists of the eighties together with their followers in the nineties during the revival of progressive rock. Given that Derek Sherinian is performing all keyboard parts, the overall music is close to his solo projects. The musicianship is astonishing and includes a violinist, making this project the perfect bridge between the jazz-fusion of a Mahavishnu Orchestra or Dixie Dregs and the instrumental progressive metal of Planet X. Signed on the young label Generation Prog Records, founded by the bassist of Relocator, Michael Pruchnicki, it is a very promising debut album, as are the other projects signed on this label.
The first track, Red Vibes opens with straightforward drums, cosmic keyboards and aggressive guitars. It soon turns to a “funky” affair with hopping keyboards and guitars. Some bombastic keyboards give it a “disco-funk” flair. They alternate with an Hammond that reminds the overture to Dream Theater’s Erotomania. A guitar-bass duel in the middle of the track reinforces the “funky” character of the song. Aerial guitars and violin add at times an enchanting side to the funky maelstrom. Derek Sherinian’s imperial solo near the two thirds of the track is reminiscent of his days with Dream Theater bit also of his performance in Explorers’ Club ‘Age Of Impact’. Velvet swirling keyboards conclude the track.
Biosphere opens with anthemic keyboards, in a similar way to Van Halen’s Jump. Syncopated raging guitars join and the anthemic keyboards alternate with “bubbling” keyboards. A moog breaks the cohesion, together with a cathartic hypnotic swirling guitar. Siren alarm-like sequenced keyboards with prudently moving forward drums and guitars signal a change in the song rhythm. The song moves then to quieter territories with “singing” guitars, humming bass and laidback keyboards. The anthemic keyboards of the overture then come back, together with the assaulting guitars and the occasional bubbling sounds. Some hesitating drums/guitars close the track.
The title track opens with funky Hammond and hopping rhythms, altogether reminding a bit Saga’s Humble Stance. George Duke’s funky keyboards may also spring to mind. The cheerful keyboards that alternate with the funkiness is reminiscent of Steve Morse’s most sunny tracks. The bridge presents with drum acrobatics, pompous keyboards and swirling guitars, and is followed by raging “martial” guitars segueing into a light passage with aerial guitar soloing before haunting bass and virtuosic guitar soloing put the music back on the funky track, yet alternating with cheerful keyboards.
Threatening keyboards open Proxima, soon followed by a drum/guitar interplay backed by orchestral keyboards, altogether reminiscent of Peter Gunn‘s theme. It stops suddenly to give room to a Meshuggah’s “go-stop” passage with syncopated guitars and hesitating keyboards. The keyboards soon become more prominent, before the pace goes faster and keyboard layers turn more “orchestral” (like in Queen’s overture to Show Must Go On). A military march follows (think Marillion’s bridge in Forgotten sons), segueing into a lighter Meshuggah-like passage with hypnotic keyboards (like musical spots of different colours popping up in the sky). The pace goes faster with “orchestral” keyboards. “Singing” and cheerful guitars are soon accompanied by aerial and swirling keyboards. The keyboards that conclude the track sound like coming out of a videogame soundtrack.
Aavishkar, faithful to its title, has a flavour of Indian music, with violin reminsicent of L. Shankar’s soloing. The opening to the track might also spring to might the overture to Metallica’ Wherever I May Roam. The violin phrasing, besides the indian accents, has also a fragility that brings to mind acid folk act Spirogyra’s violin soloing. Syncopated guitar assaults together with funky keyboards, and virtuoso guitar solos, fill out the major part of the musical space on the song. The main indian theme is repeated either on keyboards, on guitar or on violin throughout the song. Only a bridge with percussion and traditional-sounding violin breaks the regular play, to which the band returns after a vibraphone solo. The last third of the song gives free card to the guitar and the keyboards to express themselves, one after the other.
13 reasons has an eerie keyboard opening, like the sound produced by rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a glass. Funky keyboards follow, together with syncopated guitar assaults. They soon turn to a more cosmic realm, while drums and guitars are “hesitating”. Swirling guitar/keyboard interplay alternates with aerial guitars and funky keyboards. The eerie keyboard sound of the overture then returns, backed by some echoing guitars. Crushing guitars soon follow before funky keyboards close the track.
Urban Blue is a song where “laughing” keyboards, together with aggressive syncopated guitars and disoriented drums alternate with pounding drums and siren alarm-like keyboards. Guitar and keyboard jamming sections come to interesperse this alternating complicity. Keyboards in the jamming section are like a crying animal in wound, while guitar is in the “shredding” vein (the echoing rhythm guitar retaining a Holdsworthian feel though).
The Alchemist opens with meditative bass, soon followed by gentle Gamalon-like guitars and siren alarm-like keyboards. Sinister guitars with “pleading” keyboards passages follow, interspersed with lighter passages, more upbeat ones, and more acoustic ones with violin and piano.
With its colourful and broad range of keyboard sounds, its energy, its clever use of rhythm and mood changes, Relocator makes for a great musical journey. This album was released in 2010, and a new album is in preparation for 2014, hopefully as amazing as the one reviewed here.