As a clearly intelligent and discerning individual, a judgment made based on the fact that you are reading Ave Noctum out of all the sites out there in internet land, you are doubtless aware of the wide spectrum of music covered here, not all of which are metal. Well, this falls firmly in the “not metal” category with Magic Pie delivering an unashamed slice of pure Prog.
Opener ‘The Man Who Had It All’ has all the elements you could hope for in classic Prog: virtuoso level keyboards, tick; guitar work that effortlessly encompasses a wide range of styles, tick; complex rhythms and time changes handled with efficiency by skilful bass and drums, tick; and clean vocals delivering lyrics that encompass a greater vocabulary than 90% of the books in a library, tick. They even manage to include some of the whimsy so beloved of the classic English bands that influenced the genre, despite being a Norwegian act too. Yes, Magic Pie are indeed a Prog band without a doubt.
This same precision and skill continues in ‘P & C’, a song that simultaneously celebrates the joys and dangers of hard liquor, red wine, and rock and roll, complete with a middle break of funky electric piano that would be equally at home on a 70’s Stevie Wonder album as it is on that of a 2019 Prog release. Probably the simplest and most accessible track on the album is ‘Table For Two’, clocking in at an almost indecently short four minutes, with a simple theme of romance and love compared to the sagas told in rest of the album. It is as far from their other tracks as ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ was from ‘The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)’ for Yes. After the blues influenced rock ballad of ‘Touched By An Angel’ things go full on Prog with and extra large capital “P” on the twenty minute plus epic of ‘The Hedonist’. Starting with a plaintive opening that reminded me of Jeff Wayne’s ‘The Red Weed’, the track grows layer by layer in pomp and braggadocio as the other elements of the band join in and the keyboards and guitar start a series of duels before coming together, raised up on high by bedrock of bass and drums delivered with the unerring accuracy of a laser guided rhythm bomb, the lyrics when they arrive being in full on thesaurus mangling fashion with multi-layered harmonies. The extended nature of the track allows each instrument to be explored to the fullest, the assorted musicians showcasing the breadth of their considerable abilities and range of influences, with rock mixing with jazz and classical music in equal measures to create a sound that is unapologetically massive. This is the sound that filled arenas and stadia around the world before Punk arrived in all its stripped back anger and changed the face of rock.
That Magic Pie pay homage to the titans of the genre like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Genesis cannot be denied, and I’ve no doubt that folks who include those acts in their music library will be more than happy to add ‘Fragments Of The 5th Element’ to their collections. Hell, when I first read the PR that came with the CD I thought the label ‘Charisma’ had been resurrected and misprinted, although I guess maybe Karisma is itself named in tribute to that legendary home of so much Prog from back in the day.