A Story In Parts is the dream that came true for young Dutch guitarist Mark Bogert. This talented musician graduated from the Conservatory of Rotterdam cum laude and then started his musical life as a professional musician. The first attempt was in the short lived band Penny's Twisted Flavour, with whom Mark recorded one excellent album; Sketches (2010, see review). His flashy playing caught the attention of Knight Area's Gerben Klazinga, who happened to be looking for a new guitarist and sparring partner for his band. Whilst Knight Area had an album on the way and the EP Between Two Steps (2013, see review), which showed the renewed fun and tightness of the band, already having been released, Mark Bogert still found the time to chase his long-time dream: a true solo album.
On A Story In Parts, Mark called in the help of two of his current band members to form the rhythm section. Both drummer Pieter van Hoorn and veteran bass player Peter Vink immediately agreed to join the project when approached by Mark. Further help came from Penny's former keyboard player Wendy Heuvelmans. She adds her wonderful melodies to Mark's music. As a nice addition to Mark's guitar, Ellen Baksteen's flute occasionally plays her melodies to create a special atmosphere.
Mark Bogert had already been called the Dutch Steve Vai several times, and when you listen to the album, you do notice the influences of this master, but the songs are not rip-offs and they really have their own identity. The Beginning is filled with strong melodies on one side, acoustic parts of piano and guitar on the other, perfectly joined together into an interesting composition. A Never Ending Story also sees strong Vai-oriented parts, but these are mere recognizable elements, blended in with his own style. Other influences come from the neoclassical music, that was initiated by Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. The fast and furious licks perfectly mix with the melodic elements, and as you can hear in the super composition Short Feeling Of Happiness and in Days Ago, Mark is caught by the virus (that is) called Yngwie. One of Mark's strong points is that he not only puts the pedal to the medal, but also is capable of writing an interesting slower and more emotional song.
The Only Truth is a good example of this, but the best example comes from Mark's ode to his parents, simply called P.A.M. This is a very emotional composition, with highlights from both Wendy Heuvelmans as well as Ellen Baksteen. During the first part Mark plays along with the two ladies in a smooth and melodic way. During the second part he releases the hounds and his furious playing dominates. It is nice to hear how the drums keep the power going all the way during this challenging song. The album finishes with Forgot The Tail, an almost classical composition that's a little reminiscent of Jason Becker's music. This song really shows off the potential of Mark's musicianship and his name will only grow.
The instrumental music Mark Bogert creates is an interesting mix of melodies, fierce guitar parts and emotion. I think this album defines 'Mark, the person' at this point. I'm sure this is just the beginning, and I'm anxious to see the development of this musician. After seeing him play this album live on the release party (see review), I know Mark will continue to impress the listener. At present, this album is amazing. If you like instrumental guitar-orientated music and (progressive) rock, this is an album you can't afford to miss.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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