Exposé Online banner

Ovrfwrd — Fantasy Absent Reason
(Rock Slacks , 2015, CD)

by Henry Schneider, 2015-12-25:

Fantasy Absent Reason Cover art

Fantasy Absent Reason is the second release by this prog rock instrumental band from Minneapolis. The four bandmates continue down the path they blazed with 2014’s Beyond the Visible Light. Chris Malmgren’s keyboards lend richness and intriguing ideas to the mix. The title track opens the disc with a pseudo-harpsichord, an instrumental sound long absent in contemporary prog rock compositions. This nearly 17 minute composition alternates between energetic guitar wizardry and quiet introspective interludes with Hammond organ, piano, and other keyboards. Each of the five tracks is a separate and distinct musical excursion into Ovrfwrd’s world. The second track,”Brother Jack McDuff” follows the same format, with Chris’ Hammond organ recalling Brian Auger. As Jon Davis had noted about Beyond the Visible Light, the band gives the impression of 70s prog rock without being derivative. Ovrfwrd slows things down with track three “Dust Nova.” There is something about this piece that makes me think of ELP’s “Take a Pebble.” Track four, “Utopia Planitia,” takes the listener into the hard rock realm along with dissonant flute and wonderful Mellotron. And the closing track “Creature Comforts,” is just that. A quiet and pleasant four minutes of sonic bliss. Overall, or should I say OVRLL, Fantasy Absent Reason is a wonderful entry as OVRFWRD’s sophomore release.


by Jon Davis, 2016-01-23:

Progressive rock is my musical comfort food. When done right, it takes me back to some of the first music I heard that really captivated me. And just like the dishes that may be your comfort food, music is not automatically good just because it’s in the same genre. Ovrfwrd gets it right, however, spinning their own variation on the classic ideas of progressive rock and seasoning it nicely, producing quite a tasty dish. (I will now let go the food metaphor.) Fantasy Absent Reason continues the strengths of their debut, and maybe even improves a bit, coming in as a solid instrumental progressive rock album, full of vintage keyboard sounds, clever arrangements, and multi-part suites, all without sounding forced or pretentious. It also doesn’t sound dated, in spite of the vintage keyboard sounds. Piano is once again Chris Malmgren’s most prominent instrument, with some nice fat analog lead lines, organ, heavy strings, electric piano, and even a tasty harpsichord to open the title track. Mark Ilaug’s guitar playing is just as varied, ranging from lovely acoustic to semi-jazzy clean electric to screaming distorted electric, for the most part avoiding stock phrases, and using some tasty octave melodic lines and complex chords. Images are conjured up of such diverse bands as Djam Karet, Balletto di Bronzo, King Crimson, Electric Asturias, and more. More contemporary comparisons would come from Eccentric Orbit and Spontaneous Rex. Further mixing it up from their debut, where all the tracks were over eight minutes, this time they include two shorter tracks, including the kick-ass “Brother Jack McDuff.” I suppose there might be some listeners who would prefer to have some vocal content, but I’m fine with excellent instrumental music like this. Ovrfwrd are one of the bright lights in American prog in 2015.


by Paul Hightower, 2017-03-25:

Minneapolis-based quartet Ovrfwrd clearly decided to stay the course for the follow-up to their 2014 debut, Beyond the Visible Light. These five instrumentals (clocking in at a comfortable 45 minutes) give the listener plenty to chew on, from the many moods of the 16+ minute title track to the swinging fusion of “Brother Jack McDuff” to the delicate and spacious textures of “Dust Nova” to the bright and technical “Creature Comforts.” The band seems most at home when they are deep into one of the many extended, heavy jams that appear on nearly every track. The music surrounding the jams can occasionally feel like accessorizing, but at least the group realizes that an album made up entirely of heavy jamming would overstay its welcome quickly. As with the debut, guitarist Mark Ilaug and keyboard player Chris Malmgren garner most of the attention as soloists, though drummer Rikki Davenport is also a constant presence and is often leading from the rear. I wouldn’t call harmonic invention one of Ovrfwrd’s strengths, though Malmgren proves himself adept at Steven Wilson’s brand of melodic tension and release, which provides invaluable relief to the grinding, minor key jams. When Ilaug reveals his jazzier side the material really takes off and if the band decides to continue down their current path I’d recommend they delve deeper into this territory. Here again they’ve demonstrated a unique take and competency with fusion and it will do nothing but open new vistas for them.


Filed under: New releases , 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Ovrfwrd

More info

Latest news

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Coco Roussel - Reaching Beyond – Roussel may be best known as the drummer for Happy the Man in their final phase, and the work he did with Kit Watkins on some of his first solo projects. This is his first album since Kit & Coco's...  (1994) » Read more

Strawbs - Lay down with the Strawbs – As live Strawbs albums go, this two disc set is an outstanding one, recorded in March 2006 at Robin 2, Bilston UK featuring the mid-70s lineup same as you would find on Hero and Heroine or Ghosts (and...  (2009) » Read more

RPWL - The RPWL Experience – RPWL is a German band and even though The RPWL Experience is their fifth studio album, they are new to me. My first impression from hearing the opening song “Silenced” is that they are a...  (2008) » Read more

Versailles - Le Trésor de Valliesres – This latest offering from the French four-piece Versailles takes the spirit of the classic French symphonics (Ange, Mona Lisa, etc.) and dresses it in a modern suit of heavy armor. Vocalist Guillaume...  (1994) » Read more

Imanissimo - Z's Diary – Imanissimo clearly relishes in the progressive rock zeitgeist, with their website’s numerous references to “prog” and their prideful boast of their 2005 AMI award (don’t ask: I...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues