Flaud Logic is the brainchild of New York keyboardist/composer Michael Kaplan. Kaplan's extensive musical education includes the study of piano and jazz theory, composition, and harmony and counterpoint at such prestigious schools as Westchester Conservatory and Brooklyn Conservatory Of Music, as well as private tutelage from Dr. Kendall Briggs of Julliard School. Adding to that musical background a solid mastery of the virtual music studio where talent, ingenuity, and a laptop computer can lay the groundwork for a grand scale magnum opus. That and little help from a handful of enthusiastic guest musicians and a dedicated producer in Jimmy Wilgus.
Kaplan documented the lengthy process of his "Flaud Logic" music project in a series of informative and highly entertaining YouTube videos taking us from conception to the finished product.
Aided by a bevy of talented guest musicians including Michael Romeo guitarist of Symphony X, Frank Wyatt (saxophone) of Happy The Man and Oblivion Sun, and Joe Bergamini drummer of 4Front and the revamped Happy The Man; Kaplan incorporates years of musical ideas into a cohesive four song tour de force, which includes a smoking 22 minute prog/metal epic.
The album opens with the track "Secret Engine", a raucous instrumental that's equal parts Dream Theater and Dixie Dreggs. Greats keys, guitar, and sax set the tone for what is yet to come. Kaplan's keyboard prowess is evident throughout. And the whaling female back-up singer Ty Blue reminds me of Clare Torry's non-lexical vocables on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" track "The Great Gig In The Sky".
"Say Goodbye" is an interesting vocal track with many facets: smoky jazz intro, stellar vocal harmonies, a touch of Canterbury fusion with some great Fender Rhodes piano from Benny Lackner ... and the at the 2:30 point in the song it takes on the flavor of an 80s' hair band power ballad before jumping off into a screaming Dream Theateresque instrumental break at the 5:30 mark where the album simply rocks out.
"Shanna" is a testament to the versatility of Kaplan's songwriting ability, seemingly oddly out of place amongst the prog/metal epics on the album, since it's more of an adult contemporary love song reminiscent of Steely Dan, 10CC, or Kevin Gilbert. Very nice ... but quite different from everything else on the album.
The highlight of the album is the 22:25 minute seven part epic track "One Year", which like "Secret Engine" has strong Dream Theater influences, as well as Kansas, Enchant, and Shadow Gallery. The song goes through a series of transitions, running the gamut from introspective power ballad, to something resembling beach music from the 60s' with cheesy combo organ and a touch of The Turtles, Gothic metal, baroque vocal choirs, and bombastic instrumental interplay.
"One Year Pt. IV: Stronger Than Words" features the astounding vocalist Amy Ward, who gives a knock-out performance.
The complete list of performers making up the Flaud Logic line-up includes: Michael Kaplan (lead vocals, keyboards), Joe Bergamini (drums), Rich Haddad (bass), Scott Thomas Ferreira (guitar), Kurt Goedel (guitar), Yuri Nikolaev (guitar), Joe Morrison (guitar), Alex Lozupone ('retro' guitar solo), Steven Kaplan (Fender Rhodes piano on "Year One"), Benny Lackner (Fender Rhodes piano on "Say Goodbye"), Jimmy Wilgus (additional keyboards), Frank Wyatt (saxophone), Amy Ward (lead vocals), Ty Blue (backing vocal solos), Dionne Thornton (backing vocals), and Dave Waxman (death growls).
"Flaud Logic" is highly recommended to anyone with an affinity for prog/metal, power ballads, and pyroclastic instrumental interplay with complex time signatures. I'm looking forward to Michael Kaplan's next endeavor.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on August 5th, 2014