ESP Project - Reverie

(CD 2023, 57:13, Sunn Creative)

The tracks:
  1- Carrier Wave - Peace Will Come - A Breakthrough(9:58)
  2- The Long Climb - View From Above -
         The Steep Return
  3- Manifestation - Cities In The Sky(5:46)
  4- Lights In The Field - Into The Earth -
         Heat Beneath The Soil
  5- Flying Deeper - Power Revealed - Reawakening(12:49)
  6- Silent Agreement - Revealing The Future -
         Heart Of The Undersea Caves
  7- Climb To The Stars - Corridors Of Light -
         Coming Home

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Reverie is the latest, seven-track release from ESP Project. It's a symphonic rock journey through the valley of prog with Tony Lowe at the helm. Producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist - this man certainly has talent! The beautiful album artwork lends itself well to the audio landscape within. The album was mastered by Gareth Redfarn and the CD design/graphics by Cheryl Stringall.

A soothing wave of keyboard and guitar immediately washes over us as Carrier Wave - Peace Will Come - A Breakthrough starts. Clocking in at just under ten minutes in length, our introduction to this album is a solid one. Encapsulating all that is wonderful about this release with expressive instrumentation and fluid rhythms. This shows in the way the songs transition effortlessly in emotion and energy throughout. There's even a fusion element that really adds some zing to the feel of it all. The Long Climb - View From Above - The Steep Return continues in the same frequency, opening with huge, dramatic strings. I must say, this album has more than a little cinematic juice running through its veins. There might not be any vocals on this one, but the guitar does all the singing required. On that note, the keyboards and guitars really have a voice of their own on this album, so I really don't mind the vocals taking a backseat. The mysterious opening of Manifestation - Cities In The Sky makes me feel like I'm discovering a distant land for the very first time. It just has that visual quality to it that sparks your imagination. It might be one of the shorter pieces on offer at just under six minutes, but it still has all of the ingredients needed to sound right at home. I love the transition between the slower, soul stirring first half and the uplifting light of the second half. Next we have Lights in the Field - Into The Earth - Heat Beneath The Soil. Building up slowly from the beginning, engulfing us in swirling keys and emotional vocals, it soon picks up the pace for the middle section. The music really carries you along, before returning once more to a relaxed state for the climax. Then there is Flying Deeper - Power Revealed - Reawakening which really ebbs and flows for its twelve minute running time. I especially like the drumming on this one, playful and rhythmic. Given the running time, Mr Lowe really gets to showcase his skills. One of my favourites is next, Silent Agreement - Revealing The Future - Heart Of The Undersea Caves. The guitar playing simply sings. It's a really beautiful performance. There's just this uplifting atmosphere on the record and it oozes out across all of the songs. The last track, Climb To The Stars- Corridors Of Light - Coming Home ends the album just as dramatically as it began. I love the keyboards. I always love the keyboards. The whole song feels like a crisp night breeze, drifting in to cool you down as this hot musical adventure comes to a close. It might have a darker feel to it, but it's still just as beautiful as anything else on the album.

Reverie is delightfully enjoyable and hits the spot where I felt the previous release fell short. Please check out my review of Anarchic Curves (2022, see review). If you love music that takes you on a journey then make sure you give this album a listen, as it does just that. Instrumental for the majority of its running time, only adding to its charm. Fans old and new should find lots to enjoy here with its melodic wit and interesting song structures. A highlight of the year's releases.

****+ Rickalonius Monk

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