REVIEW: DPRP 2015
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It has been three years since Gekko Projekt released their first album, Electric Forest which arrived shortly after guitarist Peter Matuchniak had unleashed his début solo album Uncover Me. So I guess it should come as no surprise that this second group album follows hot on the heels of Matuchniak’s second solo release Destiny. This time the four male Gekkos, Matuchniak on guitar and vocals, Vance Gloster on keyboards, stick and vocals, Rick Meadows and bass and vocals and Alan Smith on drums and vocals, are joined by a female recruit, lead vocalist Jojo Razor.
The album is a concept set in the year 2084 following the eventful life of Reya, whose new career choice results in her being stranded on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Whilst the story is all very cosmic, the music is classic progressive rock.
With three studio engineers in the band, one can be guaranteed a superior sound quality, and with the group members all being established and experienced musicians, the playing is from the top drawer. The addition of a lead vocalist has added a new dimension to the band but it is interesting that each of the other band members takes a lead vocal on one track. This not only adds variety but also helps drive along the story by introducing different characters and viewpoints.
It is hard to fault any of the performances: Matuchniak comes to life as part of the band and plays the most exciting lead electric guitar I have ever heard him commit to a recording. Smith’s drums are quite prominent in the mix but his rhythmic patterns are always interesting, while bassist Meadows holds things together well at the bottom end, even taking a lead role on Frienda and the surprisingly different closer Sing For Me.
Gloster, who remains the main composer despite greater contributions from the other musicians compared with the first album, utilises a wide range of different keyboards to vary the mood, from the typical spacey sounds on Elegy and Grains of Sand to the jazzy solo on North Of Titan right through to the organ on Frienda and Escape From Titan’s Mines. Everyone gets to shine on This Is Now Our Home with its six component sections each having its own unique identity and culminating in a rather nice, harmonised Reprise. However, it is Queen of Titan that is the most satisfying song for me.
Overall, Reya Of Titan is a fine collection of songs which are diverse enough to enable them to stand alone, but linked through the narrative to keep the concept fans happy. I just wonder if back in the early 1980s when Matuchniak was selling cassettes containing a side of music each by his first bands Janysium and Mach One, he ever contemplated that 30 years later he would be producing the best music of his life, not only with a band but also as a solo artist?
Reya of Titan may not compete with the big boys of the genre in terms of sales but is well worth getting hold of it for its joyful variety of modern progressive rock.
Mark Hughes: 8 out of 10