CD Baby [Release date 11.10.15]
Not to be confused with anything pertaining to science fiction, save for some obtuse voice-over snippets, Forbidden Planet is a Singapore based instrumental prog rock outfit with an open ended style that finds them truly pursuing the term progressive, while remaining surprisingly accessible.
The band features Adam Quek and David Baptista on guitars and a world class rhythm section of drummer Laurence Buzzi and bassist producer The Freq, who also meticulously mixed and mastered the album to capture every last magical tone.
‘From Bedroom To Oblivion’ draws on a wide range of influences spanning the neo-classical rock, of ‘A Fine Line’, the subtle ambient guitar tones of ‘Circular Logic’, the staccato metal shredding of ‘I Know What It Takes’ and the metal influenced ‘Put On The Suit’.
The album also benefits from clever sequencing and an essential flow, as evidenced by the contrasting angular jazzy runs of ‘7 Ate 9’, with the gentle introspection of ‘Stop This Ship’.
The band cleverly draws on sampled snippets of dense narratives which they layer over shifting guitar lines before frequently returning to the main structure of the song.
On ‘Into the sunset’ they almost overdo the voice-over, before they draw us back into a beautifully nuanced fusion guitar groove. Given the excellence of the rest of the album you would expect nothing less, but then the track suddenly explodes on to another level with a thrilling ascending guitar line that Steve Howe would have been proud of, before settling into a cool groove full of percussive sprinkles, and crisp drumming.
Each track feels as if it’s part of an integral relationship with the next one, and the band glues the whole thing together with a recurring melodic sensibility over snaking guitar lines that feel like progressions rather than fills.
The whole album has a disguised linear feel, as part of a fragmented musical journey. The band achieves this by impressively bringing together a myriad of styles and making them a coherent whole.
Forbidden Planet is the eloquent sum of its parts, with the front line guitarists being pushed to the limit by a rhythm section that understands the value of dynamics. The Freq’s bass underpins so much of the album, while drummer Laurence Buzzi’s timing and delivery beautifully shapes pieces like ‘Into The Sunset’.
When you listen for example, to the sudden changes on ‘7 Ate 9’ you are hearing a supremely confident band who gifted musicianship matches their compositional gifts. And by the time of the meditative conclusion of ‘Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude in G Major’, they have achieved that rare thing of drawing the listener into a multi-layered, forward looking suite of music that stands as an exhilarating example of their collective abilities.
Forbidden Planet balance musical and compositional excellence, with just enough mystery to keep us coming back for more. This is an excellent album that I unhesitatingly recommend for prog rock and guitar fans in general. *****
Review by Pete Feenstra
Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00
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