Special Experiment - Fortune Memories
Self released
Intstrumental Progressive Rock
8 songs (45'30")
Release year: 2002
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

When I was first asked to write a review of Special Experiment’s album Fortune Memories I listened to the first composition and … hesitated. Why? Very rarely do I listen to instrumental progressive rock bordering on jazz-fusion. However, those “turn on a dime” rhythm changes, progressive synthesizers trading leads with a skillful guitar on Kiss of a Vampire had me entirely hooked. So I decided to proceed, carefully.

Very often music like this comes off for me as written by a bystander devoid of emotions. More often than not, it is quite, maybe even overly, technical, but I much rather prefer a simple melody and emotion than a finger twisting cold technique. Thus, I thought, an opinion of a fan with more extreme metal tastes would provide an interesting angle for Special Experiment.

Having listened to this album a dozen times by now I can truly say – it rocks!! There are two ruling forces on Fortune Memories. Keyboards/piano and lead/rhythm guitar. They feud and duel, with one periodically emerging a winner, yet at times they overlap creating a harmonious friendly unison. Keyboards range from very synthetic and spacey (Centre Opti Fuga) to medieval symphonic, almost like a clavier (Night Over Marakesh). I loved it the most though when those synthesizers are foregone in favor of an old and trusted piano which creates an unbelievably warm sound (King of Twilight and the beginning of Dark Angel). The guitar can chop alongside the keyboards (Night Over Marakesh), be heavy and anthemic (title track), or even be an acoustic accompaniment (Ametyst Eye). However, the main attraction is the leads. Oh, My God! Can this guy play or what? I almost wish I could start taking guitar lessons to be able to comprehend how one person can play like this. From Blackmorish harmonies to distorted fast scales, to jazz complexities, this CD has it all. To complete the picture, bass and drum playing are very interesting too. Production deserves only praise as every bell and whistle is heard throughout the album.

So, here I am, describing technical details of a CD the style of which I just criticized for being overly technical. Therein, lays the biggest surprise bonus. As technical as music is on Fortune Memories, it is moody and emotional. Most of the time the mood is light, relaxing and life affirmative. My attention on this album almost never waned. Being entirely instrumental (except a short female backing voice on Dark Angel) this album does not need a singer, or vocal tracks for that matter. If it is Night over Marakesh the Mid-Eastern feeling is predominant, and Centre Opti Fuga is just that – Fuga – a music composition with an entirely predetermined structure. Ametyst Eye is your softer “ballad” if you want, and the title track is a heavier anthem. It is one of my peeves, by the way, if an instrumental is just another song they forgot to write the lyrics for. This album has 8 instrumentals, and none of them invokes this stinking feeling.

Being so utterly impressed I have done some research on the band. Special Experiment’s driving force, creator and songwriter is Dzidek Marcienkiewicz, a talented Polish musician living in Germany. The band would not be complete without a monster guitarist Frank Tienemann, and I am sure Dzidek will be the first to confirm that. More info could be found on www.special-experiment.de

There you have it. It does not matter which genre you are most devoted to, if the stuff is good, then anybody will notice it. Fans of Artension, Rainbow, Dream Theater, Andromeda will not regret picking this up. Frontiers and Shrapnel labels would be smart looking towards Fortune Memories. This Experiment is indeed Special.

Killing Songs :
Centre Opti Fuga, Fortune Memories, Night Over Marakesh, King of Twilight, Ametyst Eye
Alex quoted 89 / 100
Jeff quoted 82 / 100
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