In the twelve year existence of the German band RPWL, the band has grown from playing Pink Floyd related songs to a whole own identity. Founding members Yogi Lang (vocals and keyboards) and Kalle Wallner (guitars) had to part with their former bass player Chris Postl and welcomed Werner Taus into the band. For drummer Marc Turiaux, this new album is his first real studio effort, besides that from his work on The Gentle Art Of Music (see review), which was released as a compilation album with re-recordings in a special way, on the second CD. Keyboard player Marcus Jehle, who started as a live addition on the keyboards has been growing into a steady force in the band for a number of years now.
The problem when a band is getting better with every album they release is that there must come one album, which is just a bit off from the previous one. For me the last real studio album; The RPWL Experience was one of the best progressive rock CD's I have heard so far, so RPWL had to come up with something special to top that one.
Beyond Man And Time is a concept album which tells the story of a protagonist who meets a number of characters along the journey he is on; the keeper of the cave, the willingly blind, the scientist, the ugliest human, the creator, the shadow, the wise man in the desert and the fisherman.
The first song; Transformed is an oriental sounding instrumental piece, where the percussion and electronica go hand in hand. We Are What We Are has a typical sound, the opening riff leaves no doubt that this is one of Germany's finest progressive art rock bands. The combination of electronic drums and real drums lays a nice base for one of the most impressive vocalists. Yogi always keeps his super relaxed way of singing, which has become one of the trademarks of this band. A nice expanded Moog solo flows into a brilliant guitar part and then finishes with the smooth vocals of Yogi again. More stunning guitars follow in the beginning of Beyond Man And Time. Here we are getting a glimpse of Pink Floyd again with well-orchestrated, layers of keyboards and floating guitars. Keyboards have a main part in Unchain The Earth. Where the guitar gently moves along the melody, the bass takes you back to the new wave music of the eighties. I think the title The Ugliest Man In The World is good for a number of jokes, but the song itself is not. The start is Rush influenced, including majestic drumming and gently turns into RPWL when Yogi's vocals begin; nicely and relaxed again, telling the story of whatever name you would fill in as a title. The Rush influences have been combined with very tasteful Moog parts and solos, while the bass keeps rolling in the back-a brilliant song we have here. A slightly distorted vocal marks the beginning of The Road Of Creation, electronic percussion is mixed with real drums and slightly heavier guitars and bass then turn this into a powerful song with typical vocals. On Somewhere In Between, Yogi's vocals are full of emotion and desperation. Highly orchestrated with electronic percussion and a staccato guitar, The Shadow flows into an almost acoustic part, which has a perfect slide guitar, but then the power takes over before returning with another great slide guitar part in the end. The Wise In The Desert starts as a relaxed song with lots of electronics where Kalle just plays chords, but the song changes into a heavier guitar driven song, which makes this a perfectly built up song. One of the highlights of the album is the over sixteen minutes long The Fisherman, which has a slightly oriental feel, due to the soft sitar parts and percussion. Perfectly orchestrated with impressive keyboards, the song flows into one of Kalles best performances ever, a brilliant solo played over a wall of keyboards. Yogi's emotional vocals take the song to the end, but listen closer to the drums in this song-Marc does a tremendous job here. The Noon is the last song of the album and has more impressive vocals in a cool and relaxed way with soft guitar and keyboards in the background.
Beyond Man And Time is another highlight in the career of our German friends, more electronics than on their previous album and a voice that gets under your skin: brilliant. I am not going to compare this album to The RPWL Experience CD, because of the many differences between the two albums, this new album goes much deeper than the happier previous one. Musically RPWL has peaked again.
Now we have to wait 'til April to see the album played live in its full glory and I just can't wait.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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