Reviewer | Olav M Bjornsen
Prolusion. The US outfit GEKKO PROJEKT was formed a few years ago, initially as a quartet of experienced hands in the music business. They released their debut album “Electric Forest” back in 2012. Since then the band has been expanded with the talents of vocalist Jojo Razor, and signed to the US label Melodic Revolution Records for the release of their second album “Reya of Titan” in 2015.
Analysis. Gekko Projekt is a band that comes across as a unit that has been rather heavily inspired by vintage progressive rock of the more accessible kind; those fond of some of the seminal bands from the ‘70s will find many familiar details in the soundscapes they explore. Still, when push comes to shove, I’ll probably estimate that neo-progressive rock is the best way to categorize their music, at least on this production. “Reya of Titan” is a good, old-fashioned concept album that explores the story of how and why a space miner ended up as the queen of Titan. The kind of tall-tale that many science fiction buffs loves to read, even though many have them as a guilty pleasure akin to E. E. “Doc” Smith’s “Lensman” series of novels. But for those with an interest in such manners, this should be tantalizing, I presume. In terms of the music explored, most of it revolves around accessible versions of classic symphonic progressive rock, where you can hear the influences and inspirations from the likes of Genesis and Camel throughout. Elegant keyboard textures and more vibrant organ details are liberally used throughout, but often used in the more atmospheric manner that the ‘classic’ neo-progressive rock had a tendency to explore. Solid and often driving bass-lines cater for momentum quite nicely, and guitarist Matuchniak does know his way around dream-laden and crying-style guitar soloing in a suitable and efficient manner. Some cinematic interludes are used to add depth to the storyline, and in terms of stylistic variation several compositions also feature one or more elements with a stronger jazz-oriented feel to them, the charming lead vocals of Jojo Razor are also paired off with a few instances of male lead vocals, most effectively so on the dark-toned, theatrical Frienda, a piece that also has more of a vintage progressive rock stylistic orientation. Further expanding the repertoire of this album is the first of three tracks expanding the main storyline, Escape From Titan’s Mines, where guitarist Matuchniak gets to showcase his inner Robert Fripp in a hauntingly compelling manner. As for the sentimental, jazz-oriented concluding track Sing For Me, and the manner in which it is presented, this one doesn’t quite make it with me as a standalone composition. It is an appropriate piece as far as the expanded storyline goes, although personally I feel that this expansion does come across as somewhat forced.
Conclusion. Gekko Projekt’s second album “Reya of Titan” appears as a well-developed conceptual creation, and documents that the band is well aware of the past of progressive rock, utilizing elements from that past in a somewhat more contemporary and accessible manner. Those who have a strong affection for vintage-like neo-progressive rock should spend some time checking out this album, and then in particular those who treasure music of this kind that feature obvious nods back to bands such as Genesis and Camel.
Olav M Bjornsen: December 1, 2015