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Presto Ballet - 'Invisible Places' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/1a/3e/a3/1253_prestoballetinvisibleplaces_1305569037.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 16, 2011    
 
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PB are more Pomp than Progressive, but whichever they are, they're brilliant.

I'm not sure what happened with the marketing for this album but the first I heard it had been released and on-line retailers had already run out of stock. The reason I raise this is because Presto Ballet (PB) are one of a select group of artists whose albums I simply must have the moment they are released as I love what they do.

For the uninitiated, PB were formed by guitarist and songwriter Kurdt Vanderhoof (Metal Church) with the specific aim of paying homage to the style of Progressive Rock that has inspired him (and his band mates) over his lifetime but specifically music from the seventies, using classic analogue instruments and old recording techniques. This is their third album and I am delighted to say that it's unashamedly business as usual despite a new line-up of players, no tinkering at the edges or trying to be different it's just the third instalment of something rather glorious. This time round Vanderhoof has enlisted ex-Metal Church and Lillian Axe vocalist Ronnie Munroe, keyboard player Kerry Shacklett, who was discovered via videos on YouTube, who not only turns out to be a superb musician but has apparently added significantly to the writing and arranging side too. Bassist Bobby Ferkovich and drummer Henry Ellwood complete a fabulously talented quartet. So, if a heady cocktail of Styx, Kansas, Rush, Yes, Starcastle, ELP, Uriah Heep, Genesis, Procol Harum, Journey, Queensryche (amongst others) floats your particular boat then you are going to be in seventh heaven with this album, and its predecessors.

'Between The Lines' opens proceedings with a fabulous blast of synths and Hammond Organ before a Styx crossed with Boston acoustic guitar interlude is inserted in delightful style. When the vocals appear it's with great melody and really strong harmonies. On this song Munroe has a touch of Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) in his delivery, but more tuneful. Elsewhere, he features some Geoff Tate or Steve Perry sensibilities in his range but without aping. A change of pace puts me in mind of Queensryche (it's the strummed guitar that's so redolent) whilst the instrumental section has huge verve.

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As with most of the tracks on the album 'The Puzzle' is driven along by robust guitars and that Hammond but here we get a nice piano motif that's a treat before the organ returns followed by the synths and back to the piano, and that's what I call great arrangement. It's at this point that I concluded that PB are more Pomp than Progressive, but whichever they are, they're brilliant.

Musically, 'Sundancer' will have you thinking of Rush circa 'A Farewell to Kings' until a section where the synth sound is pure Saga. 'Of Grand Design' is one of two 12–minute tracks and like the closer 'No End To A Beginning' it wends its way through many themes and melodies across its course, remaining interesting, tuneful and plain entertaining throughout. 'One Perfect Moment' rollicks along and features yet more catchy refrains and hooks although I defy you not to start singing 'Delilah' to a particular piano motif, whilst penultimate track 'All In All' has a wonderful middle eight where the pace is relaxed and Munroe produces a superb vocal

I could write reams about all that's going on with this album, but I think you need to discover its considerable delights for yourselves.

Gary Marshall

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