With so many progressive groups trying to reinvent and separate themselves from the perceived prog/rock ‘kiss of death’, it has caused me to amend my ‘Auto Purchase’ list to the point where there are only a handful of groups that I feel comfortable enough to lay down my hard earned cash for their latest CD on faith alone.
The German group RPWL remains a steadfast force in the genre consistently refining their sound without abandoning the spirit of progressive rock music.
I was hooked after the first spin of their debut album “God Has Failed”, and I’ve been a champion of the band since them.
They came on the scene at a perfect time – filling the vacant gap left behind by Pink Floyd. Stylistically, their compositions retain the airy spacey sounds established by Waters, Gilmore, Wright, and Mason – but where the lyrical content of Floyd comes from a dark place in the inner recess of a troubled mind, RPWL pulls back the curtain to allow the sunlight to flood the room and disperse the doom. Their songs speak of hope and love, with an occasional detour down the dark path of their Floyd brethren.
On their fifth studio album “The RPWL Experience” the band continues to experiment and refine their sound, drawing inspiration from not only from Pink Floyd and the 70s’ prog/rock pioneers, but also 60s’ artists like artists like Donovan, The Beach Boys and The Beatles, and the new wave of successful European progressive rock groups like “Porcupine Tree” and “Riverside”.
Besides the hook-laden ballads and prog epics which have become a trademark of the group, “The RPWL Experiment” contains a smattering of Industrial mayhem and self-depreciating tongue-in-cheek humor – which is quite evident on the tune “This Is Not A Prog Song” - a seemingly autobiographical song the has the band sounding like the 60s’ pop rock group “The Hollies”.
Another 60s’ stalwart, Bob Dylan is honored on the disc. Dylan’s tune “Masters Of War” gets the RPWL – or should I say Pink Floyd - make-over. Here is a perfect case for the naysayer and detractors of the band who dismiss them as nothing more than a Pink Floyd Clone. This absolutely sounds like something off the “Momentary Lapse Of Reason” album. Of course, for someone who appreciates vintage Floyd this tune is a Godsend.
On the multi-faceted tune “Choose What You Want To Look At” the group incorporates the aggressive elements of Nine Inch Nails, hard driving arena rock and roll, then transitions into something resembling Marillion’s “Cannibal Surf Babe” – quite a stark contrast, yet blended seamlessly - something they do throughout their compositions – blending contrasting styles into a cohesive unit.
“Turn Back The Clock” truly harkens back to early pioneers of progressive rock building to an Emerson-style Moog solo ala “Lucky Man” and the sweeping Mellotron epics of Genesis.
The epic track “The River” contains an instrumental interlude reminiscent of the noodling of Robert Fripp and Company during the recording of “Moonchild”.
The entire album is laced with these new ideas and déjà vu creating a dizzy sensation I’ll call ‘future nostalgia’.
The material on “The RPWL Experience” proves that progressive rock can evolve and push the boundaries while still retaining the sensibilities of the old school pioneers.
8 out of 10 Rating
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on September 15th, 2008