For many years the music of the German progressive rock band Central Park was dominated by male musicians. This started when they were founded in 1983 when progressive rock got a new pulse from bands such as Marillion, Pallas, Pendragon and Saga. But without an album release the band split up in1989. Sometimes musicians want to get back on stage to perform music with fellow musicians. This also happened with the people who played in Central Park. So a reunion took place in 2006 after the original line up had witnessed a Yes concert. After 23 years where nothing ever was released the band suddenly came out with two releases. The title of the album Unexpected says enough I guess! Also a live DVD appeared on the horizon and got the title Unexpected Live. After the band's lead singer decided to quit, a lot of things went differently for this band from Munich.
The band was no longer dominated by males only because in the Summer of 2010, the band was for the first time fronted by a female singer. Only some female backing singers were used during live performances. Jannine Pusch joined the ranks of Central Park and probably wasn't aware that her presence would have caused a lot of changes.
This educated soprano singer was in many ways responsible for the many new influences. Those influences changed the style of music very much as you can hear on their latest release Reflected. Still you can hear that you have to deal with a band that performs progressive rock music but the metal influences are notable from time to time. Musical brain and keyboard player Jochen Scheffter was wise enough to discover the musical talents of their new member in full glory. This way the rock and classical elements could mingle very well together on most of the tracks.
The opener Guns R Us decries the child abuse found in child soldiers around the world. This is visualised with a memorable rhythm sounding like gun shots. However when you hear the first notes of this piece of music you get the idea that you are listening to a classical composition performed by a real orchestra. This is very beautifully done on the keyboards I guess. The aggression of the child soldiers we hear very much in the parts that follow.
The guitars take over in a very aggressive way. Also the vocals sound very aggressive and made me think about Toyah Wilcox. In many ways, Jannine sounds like this British vocalist that very well combined punk with progressive rock music. But what I heard fits the music perfectly and I liked it a lot. The next track Free Fall features the same elements of heavy rock music. But you never could call it hard rock because the music is all the time too melodic and not straight forward. Also, the use of many keyboards give the music a touch of progressive rock music. On the next two tracks White Princess and Another Part, the music gets more mellow and the vocals start to sound even more sweeter. They are a real delight to hear. But the highlight of the album is without any doubt the 21-minute epic piece Vision Of Cassandra. It is divided into three parts and has many different moods. Again, the different elements of classical music and metal work very well together. Sometimes the music is very bombastic and sometimes very delicate. This way the band put their vision of Troy's decline from ancient to today's world very well into music. The last two tracks are also very much worth listening to. On Path Of Mercy and The Last Tear are again the strong classical influences that are very well integrated into the music. On The Last Tear female singer Jannine Pusch one more time shows that she has a very strong voice. This time she sings towards the end of the song like a real opera singer and this sounds very impressive. Impressive are also the sounds of war which give this rather mellow piece of music a more aggressive sound for a while. This sort of ballad ends an album that certainly has some fine moments and sounds very mature.
Therefore, I can only be positive about Reflected. You can hear that a lot of hard work has been done to achieve such a professional sounding album. Recommended to anybody who enjoys neo-prog with a female touch that contains elements taken from metal and classical music.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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