Exposé Online banner

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

by Jon Davis, 2016-01-23:

Fantasy Absent Reason Cover art

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.


by Henry Schneider, 2015-12-25:

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.


Filed under: New releases , 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Ovrfwrd

More info

Latest news

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

No-Man - Speak – No-Man began back in 1987 as a collaboration between Steve Wilson (pre-Porcupine Tree) and vocalist Tim Bowness. Over the years since then, the band has released a number of albums and EPs, mostly in...  (2000) » Read more

Atman Featuring Anna Nacher - Tradition – No newcomers to Exposé, this exotic Polish ensemble check in with another release. Atman’s sound is tough to pigeonhole, their forte being a bent for creating ambient drones and spacey...  (2001) » Read more

Early Day Miners - Placer Found – Well, the Exposé credo is to spotlight the boundaries of rock, so that must mean this young American group fits the mold. Unlike the mostly Euro-prog based music we cover, EDM has a truly...  (2001) » Read more

Various Artists - Higher and Higher: A Tribute to the Moody Blues – Given their influence on the genre, the Moody Blues are a great subject for progressive bands to cover and I’m surprised something like this hasn’t already been tried. But leave it to...  (2007) » Read more

Pangée - Hymnemonde – Listening to this new Quebecois quintet's début album is like stepping into a time-warp and going back to 1972 Germany. Though it is certainly a new release, it is convincingly 70s...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover

Some music is not made for (or on) solid ground



Print issues