Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review - RPWL - Trying to Kiss the Sun

A decent band that got better with subsequent albums. Not being a huge Pink Floyd fan they only wound my clock halfway, but sometimes a halfway winding is what a body needs. This was one of the early albums that Inside Out America sent me. Before long this prog-rock label was sending me everything they put out, giving me a deep exposure to the genre.

* * * * * While RPWL started as a Pink Floyd cover band, it wasn't long before the muses took over, forcing them to create original, albeit similarly styled, music. Trying to Kiss The Sun is the long-awaited follow up to their critically acclaimed 2000 release God Has Failed. Reveling in the mid-to-late 80s Pink Floyd sound, the five-piece RPWL creates music that ebbs and flows like the ocean, sonically filling the aural landscape with shimmering sounds that fill every crevice.

The title track opens with a coral sitar, giving a mystic mid-eastern feel before the equally ethereal guitars enter. With elements of The Church, RPWL offers soundscapes that are rather song oriented but with poppy edges, which makes them appeal to more than hardcore shoegazer music lovers. More sitars are to be found in the up tempo and melodic "I Don't Know (What It's Like)" which bears a striking resemblance to the later music of Irrwisch. "Side By Side" passes eight minutes in length but uses this time to create a nice build up, starting with a lone vocal and acoustic guitar and moving to a near orchestral level, ending with wind chimes and appropriate whispy sounds, all in a nice Floyd-ish manner. Another lengthy song is "You" with nearly seven minutes of sonic glee, starting strongly with hints of later Kansas but immediately backing off, allowing the song to grow and breath. The vocal harmonies and chorus of this track especially reminded me of Lapse of Reason-era Pink Floyd. A bit out of character but of great appeal to my ears is "Sugar for the Ape", a gritty, near-rock song with a great riff in the verse and a lofty, clean, soaring chorus that adds nice contrast to the previous dirt. The song ends with a solo piano fade out featuring a variation of King Crimson's "Court of the Crimson King." The closing track, "Home Again" is another stretcher at nine minutes in length, pleasantly combining innovative guitar tones with a strong melody and hints of 80s pop from bands like Asia and Toto.

More than just a Pink Floyd rip-off band, RPWL captures the essence of this great band and filters it through their own lens, creating memorable, well constructed songs that bear their interesting and developing sound. For fans of 80s-era Floyd I cannot recommend enough this tantalizing album of powerful, melodic, mentally and emotionally engaging songs.

This review first appeared in WhatzUp, November 2002.

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