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

2018-01-05
Ray Thomas RIP – On Thursday, 4 January 2017, the world lost Ray Thomas, founding member of the Moody Blues. Thomas sang and played flute, and was responsible for writing a number of the band's most memorable songs. He was 76. » Read more

2017-12-22
Roswell Rudd RIP – Jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd, one of the distinctive players of his instrument in many strains of music, has died at the age of 82. With a career stretching back to the early 60s and over a hundred recordings featuring his playing, he leaves behind a substantial legacy. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. » Read more

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Celeste - Celeste (AKA Principe di un Giorno) – Celeste's first album, also known as Principe di un Giorno, is an absolute gem, an overlooked classic that deserves a place among the best Italian releases of the classic period. Originally...  (1995) » Read more

Various Artists - Lost Years in Labyrinth II – Unlike volume one, there is no theme governing this one other than the fact that all the groups record for Belle Antique. They have intended it as a sort of beginner's guide. All the songs are...  (1996) » Read more

Harley Gaber - I Saw My Mother Ascending Mount Fuji – Gaber’s 65-minute piece for “multi-track violin, processed alto flute and tape” is, to get metaphorical (which is about the only way to really describe music), an abstract...  (2011) » Read more

Polytoxicomane Philharmonie - Go Ape – Apparently this is the fourth release by this German five-piece that’s somehow flown under my radar since their 2003 debut. The fact that there are only eight tracks spread across these two...  (2011) » Read more

Thinking Plague - In Extremis – It's been way too long since we've heard a CD from this group, although, fortunately, we get them in bits and pieces from other groups in the 5uu's circle. In This Life was one of the...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues