March 3, 2020

Symphonic Prog Review: Marco Bernard & Kimmo Pörsti (The Samurai Of Prog)-Gulliver

Release Date: January 25, 2020
Label: Seacrest Oy
Website
This band was originally formed as a multi-national collaboration project in 2009, with Marco Bernard (bass), an Italian resident in Finland, Kimmo Porsti (drums), from Finland and an American multi-instrumentalist, Steve Unruh. The Samurai of Prog is this core trio plus guest musicians when required. The debut release appeared in 2011, Undercover, and the album now under review is No 8, Gulliver, a concept album released last month.

Gulliver
is based on the novel by Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), and deals with Gulliver’s adventures in 4 different lands.

 Only Marco and Kimmo from the core trio are fully involved in Gulliver as Kimmo explained to me that Steve was busy with another project and I think that it may be with United Progressive Fraternity (UPF). Steve does appear on some tracks and there are 21 guest musicians also involved with the release.

Gulliver is a 6-track album with track 2, “Lilliput Suite” running to just under 18 minutes and the final track, “Finale,” clocking in at just over 3 minutes. The total playing time is just over an hour (62 minutes).

As ever, a concept album makes picking out individual tracks difficult as the storyline continues through the album, but I will try to give a flavor of Gulliver.  A mention should also be made of the superb artwork on the 6 panel CD cover from none other than Ed Unitsky.

I always feel that the opening track is very important to “grab the listener by the ears” and set them up for what is to follow. “Overture XI” (7:42) is the opener and is an instrumental dominated by old-style key-boards and switches in tempo from thunderous keys to quiet, almost pastoral, sequences. This is symphonic prog at its best. A guitar appears to take the track onward before passing the baton onto Marek Arnold and his superb saxophone. As the track reaches its conclusion, the listener is presented with a dilemma, either to continue onto the following track or replaying that superb opening track. There is a difficult choice to be made.

The second track is the longest track on the album “Lilliput Suite” (17:53) and is split into 6 sections, namely I) The Voyage Of The Antelope, ii) Prisoner, ii) Inside The Emperor’s Palace, iv) Peculiar Tradi-tions, v) The Theft Of The Blefuscudian Fleet, vi) The departure, which sees more guest musicians em-ployed to add flute, violin, and trumpet. This is majestic music with the sweeping changes in sections, from full band involvement to moments of a more delicate nature linked by superb instrumental passages.


All in all, this is a superb release by two-thirds of the Samurai of Prog core trio and as the “Finale” ends, the listener should find themself marveling at the majestic swathes of keyboards, tight guitar passages and excellent flute/violin pastoral sections.

This is one of the best Samurai of Prog releases, and if you have not dipped into the Samurai of Prog music previously, then Gulliver is the one to start with. This is an album that should be found in any true symphonic prog fan’s CD collection.



Jim “ The Ancient One” Lawson – Prog Rock Music Talk Staff
March 3, 2020


Tracks: 

 1. Overture XI (7:42)
2. Lilliput Suite (17:53)
3. The Giants (8:42)
4. The Land Of The Fools (14:30)
5. Gulliver’s Fourth Travel (10:17)
6. Finale (3:11)

 

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