X-Panda – Flight of Fancy

Every once in a while there appears an album which blows your mind away! Whether it’s a psychedelic record or stoner or doom or progressive, all you do is a hungrily devour whatever comes out of your music player. This time our aircraft lands in Estonia, the land of constant progress. Somewhere in the same direction we meet with a prog fusion band X-Panda, led by Kaarel Tamra, and their debut record named Flight of Fancy.

Actually, the way I introduced myself to this Estonian band is through the Prog Sphere Promotions wire, as PSP runs the promotional campaign for them. Saying that, you guess that we are really happy having this extraordinary band in our house.

When all cards seemed to be played, speaking of 2011, X-Panda’s Flight of Fancy comes (a bit late for me and Prog Sphere) as a seal to a finished letter, proving one more time that the year is a piece of grandiosity for all music gourmets.

But, enough with the superficial impressions, let’s get down to the album’s flow. Comprised of 11 tracks (one of them being the Intro), Flight of Fancy is a 70 minutes long journey through the landscapes of symphonic progressive metal with touches of fusion. Symphonic comes from the employment of the choir and grand deep orchestrations represented on every step.

Gathering all distinctive factors of the genre, Black is packed up with excellent craftsmanship of the band members, wrapping up the complex structures together with melodiousness. That is actually what the band does all the way through the album’s playtime. And all that goes very smooth and easy.

Prog metal riffage in Dickybirds crossed with fusionesque guitar and piano lines could be described as a hybrid of Beardfish’s rock, Dream Theater’s metal and Liquid Tension Experiment’s fusion. The title track is G3 goes prog together with Holdsworth, with an extensive guitar solo going straight from the beginning. An ode to melody, in short. Siren is for all progressive metal purists, it’s heavy and complex, with the very sensitive vocals of Tamar Nugis. Speaking of vocals, Nugis is not pushing himself into the high registers, but rather staying “calm” and low and that’s what delivers.

Journey of a Dream is the longest track off the album, and as you might guess, this one goes all over symphonic progressive metal parts, to mellow rock and the complexity of fusion. In comparison with the other epic, Black, this track is completely instrumental and leads into Keyboard Solo (which isn’t characteristic of studio albums) – a spacy and ambient interlude for the most part which breaks near the end, having the full band kicking in. Rhythm Department is a good showcase of rhythm changes and could be included as an exercise in a manual for practicing one’s technical skills.

Calm Waters is calm, pretty ambient piece, with basswork reminiscent of Jonas Reingold and very nice acoustic guitar solo accompanied by a jazzy piano section and excellent drumming. Crystal Gazing keeps on holding a piano at the beginning and is developing towards an already mentioned G3 style. The closing Revelation was chosen as a video off the album (see below) and presents in a good way what’s X-Panda all about.

Having released such a “strong” album, X-Panda could easily take a title “the saviors of the genre” in 2011 and Flight of Fancy deserves to be labeled among the best debuts of the year.

Tracklist:

1. Intro (0:49)
2. Black (11:00)
3. Dickybirds (7:01)
4. Flight Of Fancy (7.04)
5. Siren (4:22)
6. Journey Of A Dream (11:06)
7. Keyboard Solo (3:23)
8. Rhythm Department (6:01)
9. Calm Waters (4:17)
10. Crystal Gazing (8:16)
11. Revelation (6:24)

Line-up:

* Kaarel Tamra – keyboards
* Risto Virkhausen – guitars
* Tamar Nugis – bass, vocals
* Karl-Juhan Laanesaar – drums

additional musicians:

* Teele Viira – backing vocals
* Toomas Vana – trombone (2,10)
* Kreete Perandi – french horn (2,10)
* Mihkel Kalip – trumpet (2,10)
* Kristi Timma – violin (11)
* Tartu Youth Choir (2,11)

Links:

www.x-panda.net

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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