Melodic Revolution Records
Words: Craig Hartranft
And then there were five. Gekko Projekt was once a collective of four male musicians Vance Gloster (k), Peter Matuchniak (g), Rick Meadows (b), and Alan Smith (d), all with a love for melodic progressive rock. The cut one album so far, Electric Forest, which was a fine plate of the same. Now they've added a female vocalist in JoJo Razor (aka Jo Blackwood Martin). Razor adds a great deal more than vocals as she has a significant resume that also includes the fine arts to performance art. She shares vocals, and takes upon the role of Reya in the Gekko Projekt album Reya Of Titan.
So the album is a concept album, better a story, a space opera. Reya of Titan "tells the futuristic story of a woman who leaves Earth to do asteroid mining only to end up marooned on Titan, the moon of Saturn." Unfortunately, there's a brevity of information with CD, and no lyric sheet to help you along.
Nevertheless, all this is wrapped up in Gekko Projekt's neo-classical melodic progressive rock which, while lightly technical, is inviting, accessible, and entertaining. Most of the arrangements gel around Gloster's keyboards and Matuchniak's guitar. Actually, the latter is one my favorite elements about Gekko Projekt, one that always makes me want to listen. Matuchniak has a clean and melodic technique to his guitar tone. With a style that reflects anyone from Gilmore to Hackett, Holdsworth to Carlton, he can be brisk and sharp, then smooth and subtle. His is not neoclassical histrionics, but more precision and creative expression.
In turn, Gloster can offer typical synth wizardry and wonkery, yet not eclectic or weird. Often underneath it all, you might find the Hammond tone to be his foremost inspiration. Collected together, with the bass and drums, there is another current flowing here, something of progressive jazz rock fusion. It's self-evident in more than a few songs including Queen Of Titan, where Smith's drumming is especially lively, Jovian, and This Is Now Our Home. Mostly, though, the rock edge bends the sound it's way. For instance, Escape From Titan's Mines has a thicker heavier bottom end, giving it a determined sound that fits with song's lyrical purpose. This drama is then accentuated with one of Matuchniak's most direct and sharp guitar solos in the second half.
Of overarching importance is the simple fact that the album keeps your engaged, at least musically. (I still wish I would have had a lyric booklet.) I got a little bogged down in the center with North Of Titan and Frienda. The former seemed more subdued and plodding, even too much keyboards. In the latter, I didn't care for the staccato lead vocals. But these things are hardly debilitating potholes for an otherwise terrific album. If you liked the previous material, you will certainly enjoy Reya Of Titan. It's solid and entertaining melodic progressive rock some very talented musicians. Recommended.
With Reya Of Titan, talented Gekko Projekt brings you a space opera of sorts, all wrapped up in their neo-classical melodic progressive rock which, while lightly technical, is inviting, accessible, and entertaining.
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