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Reviews USA2019-07-11T14:35:20+01:00

Reviews USA

Progression: Small as a Ball – Review (US)

usa USA – Small as a Ball

When you call your project “Music for Keyboards” you’re telling the world what you’re about. No need for anyone to expect blazing guitar solos. Such a name is also likely to call up the memories of the prominent keyboard players in rock history: Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and so on.

In the case of Lars Boutrup, Emerson and Wakeman are the two most obvious referents. In some ways, Small as a Ball brings to mind a more aggressive take on something like The Six Wives of Henry VIII, with some flavor from Ars Nova’s Transi or Goddess of Darkness. While some of it is keys-to-the-wall sympho, there are some moments of respite, where some mellower electronic sounds come in, skewing the sound a bit away from classic prog rock.

Many parts sound as if they could be performed live, while others are more clearly studio creations, requiring more than two hands at once to produce. At times, the tunes have a lanky groove to them, further distancing it from classic prog, almost like a cross between prog and something like Medeski, Martin & Wood.

Add in some more atmospheric moments with breathy pads, and you’ve got the range of this album. Fans of lead keyboards have a new man to add to their list, who luckily does more than just ape the sounds of his predecessors.

Reviewed by: Jon Davis
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Link to Progression – for review you need the fall 2015 edition 

October 9th, 2015|

Expose: Small as a Ball – Review (US)

usa USA – Small as a Ball

When you call your project “Music for Keyboards” you’re telling the world what you’re about. No need for anyone to expect blazing guitar solos. Such a name is also likely to call up the memories of the prominent keyboard players in rock history: Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and so on.

In the case of Lars Boutrup, Emerson and Wakeman are the two most obvious referents. In some ways, Small as a Ball brings to mind a more aggressive take on something like The Six Wives of Henry VIII, with some flavor from Ars Nova’s Transi or Goddess of Darkness. While some of it is keys-to-the-wall sympho, there are some moments of respite, where some mellower electronic sounds come in, skewing the sound a bit away from classic prog rock.

Many parts sound as if they could be performed live, while others are more clearly studio creations, requiring more than two hands at once to produce. At times, the tunes have a lanky groove to them, further distancing it from classic prog, almost like a cross between prog and something like Medeski, Martin & Wood.

Add in some more atmospheric moments with breathy pads, and you’ve got the range of this album. Fans of lead keyboards have a new man to add to their list, who luckily does more than just ape the sounds of his predecessors.

Small as a Ball cover thumb

Reviewed by: Jon Davis

Link to Expose & review

April 7th, 2015|

Sea of Tranquility: Small as a Ball – Review (US)

usa USA – Small as a Ball

Lars Boutrup is a Danish keyboardist/composer who has released three solo albums, his latest titled Small As A Ball. Boutrup (organ, keyboards, synthesizers) gets help from Fredrick Sunesen (drums, assorted percussion) and Niels W. Knudsen (bass).

On first listen I wasn’t sure if I was ‘getting’ this one but the more I listened the more it clicked. Now I can safely say this is an excellent slice of keyboard heavy symphonic rock.

The title track begins the disc with a big drum beat and heavy bass and keys. Raging organ follows eventually breaking into wild keyboard pyrotechnics. Even though Boutrup’s fingers are flying all over the place there is still room for a pretty good melody.

“Metro Scheme 69” has a Jean Michel Jarre feel starting with an ethereal/ambient mood. The repeating keyboard motif in the background serves to create another layer of sound. There is a nice flow here and if you like electronic music you should dig this.

Electronic tapestries of sound make “Back To Horn” another winner. The keyboard and synthesizer lines weave their way across the soundscape creating another delightfully progressive tune.

“Für Deine Kleider” is a spacier offering while the mellow “Heaven Can Wait” is a more ambient track with shimmering keyboards and gentle soundscapes.

“Will We Dream About The Ball?” has darker tones and raging swells of organ giving it an extra dimension of sound.

Despite the lack of guitar and vocals the songs are interesting and energetic. If you enjoy keyboard drenched progressive rock Small As A Ball will be well worth your time.

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Reviewed by: Jon Neudorf

Link to Sea of Tranquility & review

March 10th, 2015|

ProGGnosis: The Symphonic Dream – Review (US)

usa USA – The Symphonic Dream

The Symphonic Dream by Lars Boutrup falls very much in the category of instrumental symphonic keyboard dominated progressive rock, made famous by the likes of Keith Emerson, Par Lindh, Rick Wakeman and a number of others. The music on The Symphonic Dream does vary in moods and styles but overall it’s pretty much on the busy side and Mr. Boutrup keyboard performances are very much at the forefront.

If I compare The Symphonic Dream to most albums by the famous musicians I’ve just listed, I would say that Lars Boutrup’s style is perhaps even more “in your face” than they are.

I would recommend The Symphonic Dream to fans of intense keyboard driven symphonic prog. The tracks are very interesting and the performances of quite a high level. This music is certainly not for everyone, but if you love the genre, you’ll get what you want with this album.

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Reviewed by: Marc

December 6th, 2011|

ProgNaut: The Symphonic Dream – Review (US)

usa USA – The Symphonic Dream

While new material from Wakeman, Emerson, and Norlander is still on the slow burner, and where the new album from Yes might be a little light on the keyboard acrobatics for some tastes, Lars Boutrup’s dexterous skills make for an unexpected and welcome entry into the area of symphonic keyboard instrumentals. Boutrup even dubs his specialty “Music For Keyboards,” and that states bluntly what The Symphonic Dream is all about. Bassists Andreas Jensen and Niels Knudsen, along with drummer Fredrik Sunsesen, are Boutrup’s Pomeroy & Fernandez, keeping things civil in the rhythm zone and setting up a pulsing backdrop for the keyboardist’s ample supply of synth, organ and piano melodies and electronic textures.

The Dream’s title track and its soulful organ bliss-out won’t ward off any comparisons to the aforementioned prog keyboard titans (after all, Boutrup wrote a piece titled “Emersong” on the previous album), and there’s little to be concerned about there — when it’s done this well, there’s always room for one more. The album won’t just invite comparisons to the masters, but also less talked-about heroes like Grand Prix/Uriah Heep keyboardist Phil Lanzon and Planet P mastermind Tony Carey. Opening track “June” is eight solid minutes of diversified keyboard wizardry, with a gradual crescendo of synthetic frosting graduating to high multi-keyboards drama executed with a plethora of sounds. Likewise, “Secrets Behind The Curtain” is another card-brandishing servo that does the Godfathers proud.

Tracks like “Space Peace” and “A Song For John” are more piano-centric and showcase a subtler side to Boutrup’s compositional prowess. “Eddy Will Not Be Ready” is a classical-trance hybrid with pipe organ, synthbass and slick scalar colorations. The final eight-minute statement “The Black Event” bears an ominous title but unveils a Banksian homage of legato soloing on a robust synth patch that recalls what the great Genesis keyboardist used to do before embarking on a new poolside career.

It’s not just a fitting close to an album of sterling keyboard prog, it’s a beacon to let all know this much-maligned corner of the genre isn’t all just shadows and cracks, and is alive and well.

Highly recommended to enthusiasts of the genre and lovers of keyboard rock.

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Reviewed by: Elias Granillo Jr.

Link to ProgNaut & review

October 29th, 2011|

Progression: The Symphonic Dream – Review (US)

usa USA – The Symphonic Dream

Some 20 years ago after his first band gig, Danish keyboardist Lars Boutrup  offers a second solo album, following his well-reived 2005 debut. This time, he and drummer Fredrik Sunesen recruit two bassists to help rock more, resulting in a happy meduim somewhere between minidism and bombast.

Thoughout, Boutrup displays clean, well-honed chaps on piano, organ and synthesizer while avoiding overkill. All he lacks is a bit of edge that classic prog keyboard wizards wielded when needed.

Sunesen´s percussion is tight and tasteful, while the bassists add almost enough comph to compensate for any absent guitars.

More a series of vignettest han developmental, each pjece carries just enough to become memorable without tedium, and Boutrup´s sensitive orchestration is usually perfect.

I first cranked thi son a late afternoon drive through the country under a brilliant blue sky, and it made my day. The title track´s theme could easily drive a film score, the grand piano on ” Space Peace” and ”A Song For John”  was worth seveal listens; ”Eddy Will Not Be Ready” was a fun, funky disco surprise

Rating 13

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Reviewed by: Phil Todd

October 1st, 2011|