RPWL - The RPWL Experience

Year of Release: 2008
Label: Tempus Fugit
Catalog Number: TFV?25
Format: CD
Total Time: 67:05:00

What is the RPWL experience? Well, aside from it being the title of their new album, it is a commentary on our times. And in that, The RPWL Experience includes two songs that are funny. Oh, not dangerously hilarious, but certainly worth a chuckle or two if you read the lyrics (they are presented quite seriously). Those two would be "This Is Not A Prog Song" and "Choose What You Want To Look At." In the first, we get excerpts of two reviews written about the band; in the latter, a series of ad slogans woven together to form the lyrics. Here's the thing about this though; laugh and we laugh at ourselves because there's a subtext that is not so funny and all too true. And, taken within the whole context of the full album, is a sad commentary of our times. Do we not see Darfur in the lyrics of "Silenced"? Not just Darfur, but including Darfur. Maybe we see our top political leaders in the Dylan cover "Masters Of War" - from my point of view, the Bush Administration of the US, though Dylan had someone else in mind in 1963. Funny how things haven't really changed in 45 years, even as things have changed?. And we'll get back to that thought later, my friends.

Musically, RPWL mostly pick up where they left off with World Through My Eyes; a vaguely dreamy atmosphere that has come to define RPWL, down mainly to Yogi Lang's vocal delivery. And, naturally, a Pink Floyd element is never far away - witness the very Gilmour-like guitar solo in "Masters Of War," a piece that very easily could have been on Momentary? or Division Bell? And you wouldn't have guessed by sound alone was a Dylan piece. All of which isn't to suggest that this is a retread of World?; there's enough here that isn't like their previous work.

Yet, "Watch Myself" would be another example of the RPWL style, although not quite as hazy. A waterfall of guitar and keyboards flows behind Lang's spacey vocals, making this an expansive epic -- the video should be some mid-speed zoom from the outer reaches of the solar system to come to and end with either the earth in view, or some juxtaposition that is almost a literal interpretation of the title - the protagonist in space seeing himself on Earth's surface?

"Breathe In, Breathe Out" is lower key piece, not quite acoustic, but just gentle enough that it could easily translate that way. It's got a mid-western feel as heard through a RPWL filter, and given a spacey aspect with a widdly keyboard effect that recurs mostly during the chorus. The first part of "Talk To The River" is acoustic, guitar and vocals only. At times I thought of classic Genesis, their more pastoral moments; most especially during the chorus. It is a peaceful piece, the protagonist coming to terms with? life. The middle section begins light and airy atmospheric, resonant chimes-like tones. Ambient textures dominate, wavery, watery keyboards give way to the third section, that moves from a mid-tempo strummed guitar and steady percussion to something a bit more agitated. Given the themes of these two pieces -- the first "deals with the ability of being one with the world" and in the second, "The river has one direction and leads into the light of Veda. [?T]he song [?] leads you from the beginning [?] to the final destination: being one with the ocean of time" -- there is some connection between the two. The latter is very reflective, the former introspective. That may seem to be the same thing but there are shades of meaning that to make them just a bit different.

You can also make the case that "Watch Myself" fits nicely into this theme as well. "Maybe this is only the death of a personality and as a new born self you're looking to your self as you have been."

And yet, there's also a upbeat 60s rock feel to it - ah, well, is that so surprising? I mean, it was the 60s - late 60s - where we found protest rock emerging. Well, you'll find this tapped into with "Where Can I Go," a jangly mid-tempo toe-tapper that is at times Beatles-esque. And if you look at the lyrics, I think the Beatles were on someone's mind whilst writing them -- "Where is the walrus now that leads us through his English garden?" The band states at their website that this piece "is about the function of our media. In former times religion was the spiritual and moral guidance. Now mass media is the social helmsman." You know, if you drive a [insert sexy car brand here], you'll score with the ladies (or gentlemen) and be cool; as long as you also drink [insert brand here]... so forth (a lyric from the Stones' "(I Can't Go No) Satisfaction" comes to mind - "he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke the same cigarettes as me?"). Imagine if?

And then there is equally jangly, but more Byrds-like "This Is Not A Prog Song." And, no, I don't suppose it is. But it is a rather catchy piece that, perhaps ironically, just might have you singing along before too long. (Yes, there's that irony again). And in doing so do we turn the tables on the very morons (their words, not mine... but?) whose reviews are quoted in the lyrics? Can we then say unto them this refrain: "I know what you don't know / What you can't know because I'm a real smart guy?" Since I've mentioned the lyrics, they can be found (if you haven't yet got your hands on the album (assuming they're printed there)) at the RPWL website.

The 60s are evoked again in "Turn Back The Clock," even as it employs PF-like dreaminess mixed with a Camel-like gentleness. Think a more lively "Us & Them," with a smidgen of ELP's "Lucky Man" thrown in here and there (certain sharp keyboard blurts). This is the summation of the album? asking: what if we had it to do over again (whatever it is, personal or cosmic)? Would we do it the same way, and if not, would it turn out the same anyway? "All we try and all we do / All we ask and all we knew / All the things that we've been through / We've still not reached the dream of being one." Interpret that as you will - one with the universe, one with ourselves, one as a species? or simply yes.

But throughout we find a punchier, more direct approach, as evidenced by the strident intro and instrumental bridge in "Silenced," a point punctuated by the percussion. There are several sections to this song. Ironically, in the first, for such a grim view the song is one that engenders singing along, The second includes wild guitar whirling about in tempest soon joined by some sinister vocals (the voice of a soldier). Where the track goes from there is something that falls in my "cool" category. The piece evolves through a digitized percussion effect, into a sweet sounding keyboard piece, percussion percolating underneath. This same sweet phrase is then repeated by guitar, before we emerge again into the main arrangement we began with, characterized by some soaring guitar soloing from Karlheinz Wallner.

And then there's "Stranger" which puts us in the heat of battle (the pop-pop of gunfire greets us at the outset) before a heavily percussive passages, wordless choruses as such, edge toward a metal attack that creates a dark and intense atmosphere. Halfway through guitars lash and scream as percussion slashes and drums pound? only to be followed by some parpy keyboard effects.

Vocal effects and a harsher sound characterize "Choose?" You would not say this was RPWL hearing this. There's a bit of a punk attitude here, certainly a punk-like intensity. Percussion is dominant heard through a wall of guitar; it's rock 'n' roll, baby. Oh, sure, the widdly, SF-themed keyboard (or theremin?) is so very un-punk, un-rock like? but it doesn't let up once it gets going.

I think is another fine entry in the RPWL catalog. Not a 180? from the RPWL we know, but a band branching out into other modes to help express their ideas, whether those modes are referential to a certain past time or, even if referential, also up to the minute. It is certainly a nice companion to World? and well worth investigating. Although I've given it full marks below, it is just a shade off that lofty high, although I can't tell you why exactly. It's thoroughly enjoyable to listen to, even if the topics are not all necessarily enjoyable (nor meant to be)?. I think over time, with more familiarity, either those minor things that have it hover at 99% will either become clear or disappear entirely.

The special edition version includes two bonus tracks, an instrumental "Alone And Scared" and "Reach For The Sky."

Silenced (9:52) / Breathe In, Breathe Out (3:52) / Where Can I Go? (7:19) / Masters Of War (6:17) / This Is Not A Prog Song (5:35) / I Watch Myself Sleeping (6:00) / Stranger (8:32) / Talk To The River (7:52) / Choose What You Want To Look At (5:04) / Turn Back The Clock (6:37)

Special edition: Silenced / Breathe In, Breathe Out / Where Can I Go? / Masters Of War / This Is Not A Prog Song / I Watch Myself Sleeping / Stranger / Alone And Scared (bonus track) / Talk To The River / Choose What You Want To Look At / Turn Back The Clock / Reach For The Sun (bonus track)

Yogi Lang - vocals, keyboards
Karlheinz Wallner - guitars, backing vocals
Chris Postl - bass guitars, backing vocals
Manni M?ller - drums, backing vocals

God Has Failed (2000)
Trying To Kiss The Sun (2002)
Stock (2003)
World Through My Eyes (2005)
Live - Start The Fire (2005)
The RPWL Experience (2008)
The RPWL Live Experience (2009)
Gentle Art Of Music (2010)
Beyond Man And Time (2012)
A Show Beyond Man And Time (2013)
Wanted (2014)
RPWL Plays Pink Floyd (2015)
RPWL Plays Pink Floyd - The Man And The Journey (2016)
A New Dawn (2017)

The RPWL Live Experience (DVD) (2009)
A New Dawn (2017)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin DE

Added: May 1st 2008
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.rpwl.net
Hits: 2000
Language: english


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