While listening to the debut album recorded by the American progressive rock band Gekko Project, the British band Camel immediately crossed my mind and especially the albums Raindances (1977) and Breathless (1978). On these albums Camel made a mixture of progressive rock with elements of jazz-rock and fusion. The same kind of influences is noticeable on Electric Forest.
Gekko Project is the new musical project of guitarist Peter Matuchniak, who already delivered a fine solo album (see review). He began his career playing in the British neo-prog band Mach One, which was part of the scene that included bands as Marillion and Pendragon. In more recent years he made albums with Evolve IV. Many people compared his style of playing with Steve Hackett (Genesis), although I guess that Andy Latimer could have been mentioned as well. In addition to guitar playing, he writes much of the band's material accompanied by Vance Gloster on keyboards and lead vocals.
Vance Gloster has already written some movie scores and he played in several bands as well. He loves to play on the Moog-synthesizer, Hammond-organ and Fender Rhodes-piano. This can be heard throughout the album; his solos are outstanding. If somebody would have told me that Gloster had been influenced by the late Peter Bardens (Camel) I wouldn't be surprised at all! The way he plays strongly resembles Camel's former keyboardist. Just like Peter Bardens Vance Gloster was responsible for writing the music. Bassist Rick Meadows has already played in several other bands as well, while drummer Alan Smith previously played in a Jethro Tull tribute band. He's one of the singers of Gekko Project as you can hear on the track Black Hole.
Electric Forest contains ten tracks which are all of a very high level. Most of the songs are instrumentals containing many strong solos played on the guitars and keyboards. It was a wise decision of the band to include three tracks that have some vocals. This way the songs have enough variety and prevent them from getting dull. People who enjoy the music of Camel on the above-mentioned albums should give this debut album of Gekko Project at least a try. However, I think that all devotees of neo-progressive rock will find some interesting music on Electric Forest.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013