Shaman – Grv Soldier (Plusquam)

Posted in Reviews 2006 by - August 17, 2006

Grv Soldier is an impressive album coming out at an impressive time. Plusquam has survived the mayhem following Cosmophilia’s collapse, has outlived its parent Spirit Zone and is holding its head up nice and high amid the current wave of progressive releases.

Shaman himself has also done incredibly well: an act I’d not really got on with in the past, he has reinvented himself to sound like a more evolved, more psychedelic Beckers – a slick, groovy, accomplished sound.

It all kicks off with Mazurka, the first two minutes of which are a glistening indication of good things set to come. Linear escalation has never sounded so good, the electro tinges making it sound incredibly up-to-date and in keeping with a zeitgeist nobody had quite yet defined. It builds and builds, the Beckers comparisons more or less unavoidable, but tied in with this gloriously clean production that elevates it neatly. It’s Moving Quite Quickly is a progressive masterpiece, brimming with a strong energy that keeps it hooky from the outset. All You Need has a throttling electro groove going through it, while Elevate is more in keeping with classic, pre-Goa trance.

Northern Winter encapsulates what I said earlier about a more evolved and psychedelic Beckers: this is trance for grownups. Deeply hypnotic, it unfolds and worms its way along, using sounds that are hardly there to create a rare vortex for you to lose track of time in. Nice. Viva La Revolucion sees it all come together – intricate layering, a quirkily smooth groove, electro touches and a breakdown that’s as epic as it is sheerly danceably oomphy. If you see what I mean. Bit Depth is a more standard progressive affair, that would sound at home on Iboga. It brings in some serious bleepage to drive it along, nicely balancing quirk with danceability. Finally the breaksy Four Steps closes the album in style, a real end-of-a-century track that’s as emotive as it is effective.

As it ends, it smacks you in the head as to the quality of what you’ve just heard. Grv Soldier is a quirky album – it’s not run of the mill prog by any means, there’s more than enough individuality and substance to keep its head well above water. Its electro tinges sound just perfect at the moment; not to say that this is a timeless album, but right now it’s pretty much unmissable.


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