Moon Safari - A Doorway To Summer
Blomljud Records
Progressive Rock
5 songs (59'57)
Release year: 2005
Moon Safari
Reviewed by Marty
Album of the month
Simon Akesson from Nightscape E-mailed me thanking me for the review that I did for Nightscape's Symphony Of The Night album; a great melodic power metal debut from the Swedish band. He mentioned that he was also in a progressive rock band called Moon Safari and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing it. Being the huge 70's progressive rock fan that I am, I immediately took him up on the offer. When the CD arrived, I immediately noticed the Genesis Trick Of The Tail similarities in the CD booklet especially with the colour and use of characters and sketches to accompany the lyrics. The classic moon face profile also reminded me of the classic King Crimson Lark's Tongue In Aspic from the 70's. With only 5 tracks and a total time of almost 60 minutes, there certainly was a suggestion and a sense of excitement on my part that inside just waiting for me were some as of yet undiscovered prog rock gems! Produced, mixed and engineered by the Flower Kings' Tomas Bodin, Moon Safari embraces the sounds and staples of such 70's bands as Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant and the largely underrated U.K. prog giants, Camel. This album is like a breath of fresh air on a sunny summer day and judging by the lyrics, very up-beat feel and soaring vocal melodies, that's exactly the kind of reaction that they were looking for.

With lush acoustic guitar and piano the opening track Doorway, streams in like sunshine peering out from behind the clouds. The sprinkles of harmonica adds a nice touch as do the very Beatle-like vocal harmonies. The acoustic overtones mixed with wonderfully accented keyboard passages bring a very spirited Yes-like quality and even remind me of Klaatu, a great 70's progressive rock band from Canada. Tasteful and building melodic lead guitar with lots of accents by the drums bass and keyboards slowly wind this track into a full-blown progressive rock epic. Dance Across The Ocean starts off with very Styx-ish synthesizer melodies and acoustic guitar; much like their tracks Fooling Yourself (Grand Illusion) and Sing For The Day (Pieces Of Eight). With soaring and melodic lead synthesizer, this track sees keyboardist/vocalist Simon Akesson using pipe organ as well as mellotron keyboard sounds; very much a staple of 70's prog rock. This one gets a bit more driving and up tempo with the Yes comparisons front and center once again, especially with the rich and lush vocal harmonies. Captivating piano intros grace several tracks on A Doorway To Summer and A Sun Of Your Own is one of those. The dreamy overtones and clean guitar sound all combine to produce a very positive and spirited song with lots of the rich vocal melodies that are such a staple of this entire album. I'd really thought that this type of multi-layered vocal harmonizing was a lost art leaving most of us to relish this 70's phenomenon with our classic rock albums and CDs. It's amazing to hear such a young group of musicians paying that much attention to the vocals once again...kudos for that!!

With We Spin The World, we see Moon Safari pretty much throwing everything they have into this 27 minute epic. Another beautiful piano intro with splashes of acoustic guitar gets things underway and it builds with several instrumental passages before any vocals. More prominent electric guitar give the track more of an edge than the others and the use of abstract riffs and sudden tempo stops brings classic King Crimson and Genesis to mind. Even with the length of this track, they never stray very far from the basic melodic structure that flows throughout the song. Instrumental passages mixed with wonderful vocal lines ebb and flow throughout the song and any technical progressive rock "wankery" or showing off that lots of other progressive bands use is both non-existent and unnecessary. The album ends with Beyond The Door; another track to get a great start with a haunting piano melody. This one's more laid back with largely an acoustic feel and the chorus section reprises the opening track Doorway. A wonderful way to end the album, it's like coming full circle with the journey's end now on the horizon with the setting sun.

To say that this album surprised me would be an understatement!! I was expecting more of a progressive metal sound that seems to be all the rage nowadays. What you get with A Doorway To Summer is one of the best and most "pure" progressive rock albums that I've heard in many years. Like I mentioned earlier, Moon Safari slowly builds the melodic structure to their songs and manage to keep that particular mood and feel throughout the entire track no matter what the length. Lead vocalist Petter Sandstrom has a very nice melodic voice that really fits the style of music but I feel that his vocals need to be a bit more powerful. The vocal melodies are amazing but his lead vocal work could still use a little more passion and power. Being a largely acoustic album, it could also use a little "beefing" up as far as electrifying their sound a little more. These by no means harsh criticisms rather they just reflect my own personal preference. The acoustic guitar approach with sprinkles of melodic lead guitar still results in a very appealing and highly recommended brand of progressive rock from these relative newcomers. An amazing album, this one's being kept close at hand for the first warm spring day to finally show us the doorway to summer.

Check out Dance Across The Ocean

Killing Songs :
Marty quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Moon Safari that we have reviewed:
Moon Safari - [blomljud] reviewed by Marty and quoted 92 / 100
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