Magic Pie is the latest in a long line of Norwegian Prog bands that the editor of MusicMuso has passed my way, that’s not a complaint, just an observation – some of it has been really good!! So where do Magic Pie and their latest release “King For A Day” come in the pecking order of Norwegian prog…….
Since they formed in 2001 Magic Pie have released 4 albums, including this one. The album opens with a very “Yes” sounding keyboard motif before turning into a Dream Theater style broken down verse. “Trick of the Trade” is a great opening track and like all great prog, has some fantastic musicianship, more time changes than a clock factory and lyrics that are as mad as a box of frogs. Admittedly the latter bit might be a by-product of not using their first language but I can’t prove that or otherwise! It’s a very good start. I’ll admit at this point that being a big Dream Theater fan and the similarities in both style and actually sounds used, helps their cause.
The second song is “Introversion” and weighs in at a concentration span bothering 11 minutes…… Again you can hear the influences of other bands (Kansas, Deep Purple, Genesis) but Magic Pie have a knack of carrying it off without being annoying. Their material is just so well written and played that you can’t help but enjoy this album.
“According to Plan” has one foot planted in the 70s and has some almost Queen-like harmonies. At the same time it manages not to sound dated, a handy trick that Magic Pie have perfected on this album. Like the two preceding tracks, these guys aren’t afraid to display the fact that they really know how to play their instruments and in fact are happy to wallow in indulgence – something that used to be scorned by the masses but now seems to be being embraced (see also Muse!)
As Magic Pie seem to embrace history – let’s follow suit by saying that side one was very good before flipping the disc over and having a listen to side two……
The “second side” has an opening that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Pink Floyd album – a simple keyboard line with a soulful guitar solo over the top (the intro to the 12 minute long “Tears Gone Dry”) and despite the intro lasting over 2 minutes, it doesn’t seem overly long. Many prog bands fall foul of the long song so either have a motif that lasts too long, or cram too many ideas into one song. This song manages to stay on the right side of the “clever but not over the top” line. There are some nice Marillion-esque (or Genesis, depending on your age!!) touches and it doesn’t seem overly long.
Penultimate track “The Silent Giant” is the shortest song on offer here – a mere 5 minutes and 22 seconds (Good bye Radio 1!!) and is possibly the least prog sounding song despite managing to use the words “psychosomatic ecstasy” – well done lads! Despite the lyrics, it’s a memorable track with a great stomper of a chorus.
The King For A Day album ends with the title track and I have to confess something at this point. For a prog rock fan, I find the really long songs a bit of a drag. With this weighing in at longer than a fair few albums (27 and a half minutes – yesyou did read that correctly – nearly half an hour long), I found it all a bit impenetrable. There are individual bits that are really good but who manages to sit down and listen to 27 minutes worth of music in one go, nowadays? The sheer length put me off – my commute to work is shorter than that! A real shame that the band decide to make one “behemoth” (copyright: C. Grant) of a song when it might have held more attention if they used the ideas to make up different songs. Alternatively, they could have used the Rush trick of subdividing the one song, into 5 or 6 shorter songs. If you’re anything like me – I like to learn the songs and something of this length is just un-learnable without stupid amounts of listening.
Overall I have to say that I really like this album – even the final track had its merits. I’m keeping this on the iPod but should the title track appear on shuffle, it will be skipped fairly instantly (like Dream Theater’s similarly lengthy “Octavrium” and “A Change of Seasons”). Whilst Magic Pie can be accused of pilfering from other bands, even the most curmudgeonly of music fans would have to admit that they have borrowed the best bits and have made an album that will appeal to prog affciandos, no matter who your favourite band is. Count me a fan!!