Purposeful Porpoise is a new name for me, but not all the participants are new names, of course. The music and lyrics are written by Alex Cora (guitars, vocals) who thereby is the mastermind behind all of this and one might say that this is his project. But that wouldn't do fully justice because I presume that the involved musicians have left their distinctive stamp on the result and thereby contributed significantly. Anyway, Cora was lucky to get the musicians he wanted, but as I understand the creation of the album wasn't easy, you can read more about this online. Part of the core-group of musicians are: Derek Sherinian (keyboards, ex-Dream Theater, PlanetX, etc.), Ginny Luke (violin, vocals, who has played with Meat Loaf), Ric Fierabracci (bass) and legendary drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (ex-Zappa and what not). According to the information on the CD the music was performed live (!) with guest appearances by Gustavo Farias (Moog solo, who also produced the album together with Cora), Matt Linsky (guitar solo), Colette Von, David Kirsh and Luke Tierney on vocals.
The album is some kind of a fantasy story that takes place in a distant galaxy. A dolphin-like species lives peacefully until they come in conflict with some reptilian being that messes up the good life. Somewhere I read that this double CD is the first part of a trilogy (duh, all stories are trilogies these days, and then they make four movies out of them). Interesting, but let's rather check the music.
CD1 starts with the almost 21 minute long opener Crossing Into The Unknown. This epic starts calmly with acoustic guitars, gentle keys and violin - honestly I had expected ballsy in-your-face progmetal or at least something Ayreon-like. Interestingly the music rather reminds me of Brazilian symphonic proggers Sagrado (very much thanks to the electric violin), which is one of my favourite bands, so no complaints from me! One of the highlights is a blistering guitar solo over a great loose rhythm section. So far Sherinian has been remarkably silent (quite untypical for him), but he gets a turn in the fabulous finale of Crossing Into The Unknown. This first epic is followed by the 11 minute The Air Pirate which starts with rocking guitar and together with the contrasting violin this reminds me very much of Kansas. The sparkling interplay of the instruments (this is an all-instrumental piece) also reminds me of the Dixie Dregs. Just an amazing piece of progvaganza. Pretty complex and intense at times too. The third and final 'song' on disc 1, the 12 minute Cycles is more light hearted again. The (harmony) vocals and general atmosphere give it a Yes kind of feeling. Around 4 and a half minutes into the piece the mood gets more tense (soaring synths from Sherinian) and a dreamy, almost Soon-like ending.
The second CD contains shorter songs (between 4 and 9 minutes), 7 in total of which the first 6 are part of the concept. We have an upbeat start with Unexplored with some awesome violin playing that sounds like Jean-Luc Ponty joined Kansas (which obviously is an interesting thought). There is a truly wonderful guitar solo on Lost which is a wonderfully floating piece of symphonic prog and then explores into this amazing melodic guitar shred. Serena Song starts rather cosmic and vague and then develops into a relaxed upbeat and uplifting fusion tinged piece. Halfway through the song turns around completely and leads into a guitar-driven rock piece that reminds of Steve Morse (probably an important influence for Alex Cora). Nowhere Bound is another Yes-like piece, especially because of the lush keyboard playing that reminds me of Rick Wakeman. Finally, Which Way Is Up closes the album. This is a joyful piece that draws on vocal harmonies, horns and strings in the line of Beatles, Queen and ELO (I would also throw in some similarities to Klaatu, by the way).
The final piece on CD2 is the bonus track Air Pirate Jam which is exactly what it says: a lively instrumental piece where the instrumentalists let go and show what they are capable of.
All in all a surprising album (because I expected something much heavier), but what a pleasant surprise, and what an entertaining disc! Also this one will end up high in my list for 2015. Highly recommended! Looking forward to the next part of the trilogy and not necessarily because of the story. The music is just great!
**** Carsten Busch (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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