Pymlico - On This Day

(CD 2020, 44:54, Apollon Records ARP037CD)

The tracks:
  1- Heliotrope(4:36)
  2- Time-Turner(4:58)
  3- Survival Guide(6:12)
  4- Real People(6:34)
  5- Partners In Crime(5:20)
  6- Jump Start(4:48)
  7- Sidemen Inc.(5:27)
  8- Solex Agitator(6:59)

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Pymlico is a Norwegian group working in the interesting field between jazz-rock, fusion, progressive rock and a tad of electronica. This is the second album that I have heard from them, after Meeting Point (see review) from 2013. Given the fact that On This Day is their sixth, it means that I missed their first three ones, and also the previous album, Nightscape (see review) from 2018. Somewhat odd actually, since the borderland between progressive rock and jazz-rock is a style that interests me a lot AND that Pymlico is from Oslo, the very city where I have worked for the past 12 or 13 years. Well, minus most of last year, what with Covid and all that.

Anyway, in the short review that I wrote for myself for Meeting Point, I noted that they sounded like a slightly mellower version of Liquid Tension Experiment. This is a huge compliment coming from me, since LTE is one of my favourite acts (projects) of all-time, and I am so excited that a new album is in the making.

But we are not discussing LTE here, we are to discuss the new Pymlico disc. Well, I am sorry to say that this one is a much less like LTE, and while it is surely nice music and well-played, overall, it did appeal a lot less to me. Let's just quickly go through the pieces (most of modest length, say 5 or 6 minutes with one coming close to 7, but no long tracks) and I'll explain why I am not super enthusiastic.

Heliotrope opens with some cool synth sounds. But I also hear some dance influences in there and I imagine this might do well as a backing tune in some tv-show, about travel perhaps. Then the saxophone enters for the first time, and the entire piece slides right into soft fusion territory. I think the used of sax is my main complaint about this album. Not that I have anything against sax, I do love sax. But the sound it has here, the way it is played... it's so overly civilised and sanitised... you can be pretty sure on this CD, when saxophone comes in, things leans very much towards smooth jazz fusion. However, the piece, sort of redeems itself around 2:40 with some really good guitar work and I am even reminded of LTE! Alas, then comes that sax again.

Time-turner reminds me a lot of Jan Hammer's soundtrack work for the legendary Miami Vice tv-show. I like those soundtracks a lot and they were surely groundbreaking at the time, so take this as a compliment.

Survival Guide is upbeat, dare I say poppy, with some driving guitar. Around 4:30 there is a brief Latin interlude that confuses me for a moment, and then we enter a horn section in clear Chicago style.

Real People brings more mellow fusion, while Partners In Crime is another poppy/uplifting tune with some Chicago-like horns in the background.

Sidemen Inc. is another piece that has a touch of Hammer again with some good soaring guitar. Closing piece Solex Agitator is the longest. Again an uplifting tune, with that sax that, let me say it again, contributes a lot to my mixed feelings.

Nice. But no cigar.

*** Carsten Busch (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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