In 2010 the American keyboardist Erik Norlander released The Galactic Collective (see review) that principally contained instrumental music performed on keyboards. The ten tracks on that CD already appeared in different versions on previous albums recorded by Lana Lane, Rocket Scientists and Norlander. Back then I wrote that the album will be mostly enjoyed by people who like keyboard orientated prog rock. I also said that devotees of keyboard wizards can buy this CD without hesitating. I ended my review by saying: 'despite the fact that the album contains no new songs, Norlander made it a very special release, indeed. However, it's a pity that the DVD planned to be released simultaneously has been put on hold'. As far as I knew at the time the DVD would contain some footage of live concerts, studio fragments as well as interview sections. This DVD could become the icing on Erik's latest musical cake.
Well, after almost two years and almost giving up this DVD to be released, it still happened and even better than I could ever dream of! Instead of a single DVD Erik Norlander released The Galactive Collective: Definitive Edition and The Galactive Collective Live In Gettysburg. The double CD on the first release of this great package is partly the same as the one released in 2010. The first disc contains the same track list, so I won't go into detail about that one. The second disc is more interesting since it contains music that wasn't previously released. It's an additional 45 minutes of music called Echoes From The Collective featuring new recordings of Norlander's classic arrangement of Space: 1999. This great piece of music doesn't differ that much from the original Rocket Scientists version. The second disc contains a nice piano and vocal version of Sky Full Of Stars, but this track also has fine synthesizer parts and a breathtaking guitar solo by Freddy DeMarco. By adding more modular synthesizer parts, a longer version of Garden Of The Moon than the one on the first disc, has been included as well. The second disc ends with an extended rendition of The Darker Water by adding guitar and synth solos. This makes its running time four minutes longer than the one on the first disc.
If you enjoy video more than audio, you will be pleased with the DVD version of The Galactive Collective. On this disc you can witness how Norlander performs all those great pieces of music on quite a number of instruments including a Hammond organ, a Steinway grand piano, a Mellotron, six Moog synthesizers and several other classic analog synthesizers. At the Cleveland Ohio's Magnetic North Studio he got some help from bassist Mark Matthews and drummer Nick LePar. On the choral vocal sections he was assisted by Lana Lane and John Payne. An amazing line-up of guest guitar players like Mark McCrite, Mitch Perry, Ron Redfield and the already mentioned Freddy DeMarco are featured as well.
Between the performed tracks Erik Norlander explains the songs he plays providing details of how a piece of music came together. Unfortunately the extra feature called 'Behind The Wall Of Doom' isn't complete. In this feature he explains how a modular synthesizer works and what kind of other synths he used. However, after he has started to introduce the first one it stops abruptly. I would have loved to watch this feature throughout, but a technical problem with the first edition appeared to be the reason! An amazing full colour and detailed booklet has been included as well. All tracks are mentioned and the liner notes have been written by Michelle Moog, the executive director of The Bob Moog Foundation and daughter of the maverick synthesizer pioneer and inventor Robert 'Bob' Moog (1934-2005).
All this beautiful music can also be performed live on stage as can be seen and heard on the second release. On The Galactive Collective Live in Gettysburg you can enjoy an entire concert by Erik Norlander and his backing band consisting of Matthews, LePar and DeMarco. The DVD and 2CD-set contains the complete Galactive Collective album performed live at The Rites Of Spring Festival in 2011. Furthermore you can enjoy the Into The Sunset Suite alongside Capture The Sun and the Astrology Suite, two songs that Norlander wrote for his wife Lana Lane, who also performs these tracks! The other female singer is Debrissa McKinney. Erik's modular Moog synthesizer, which he calls 'The Wall of Doom', got a special place on stage. This brings me to the part of the show where Michelle Moog can be seen. She introduces the band before they get on stage.
I've seen Erik Norlander and his wife performing live several times and I know they give an excellent show! That certainly applies for this release as well. It's just an amazing gig to watch. Erik Norlander and his fellow-musicians keep you focussed from the first notes until the last. There's never a dull moment thanks to the perfectly performed songs brilliantly shot with many close-ups. Mentioning all tracks would take too much space, but the amazing keyboard parts played by Erik are very special, just as Freddy DeMarco who played with a violin bow on his electric guitar. As a kind of encore you can see footage of the track Garden Of The Moon shot in Cleveland. This second release contains a full colour, detailed booklet including beautiful pictures from the concert and liner notes by August Worley, Norlanders's synth technician, former Moog Music designer and ELP keyboard technician. There's also an additional article specially written for this release by Erik.
Words almost fail me to describe these wonderful releases, since all has been worked out perfectly. In fact all live albums made by a progressive rock band should be released this way. Get it out on DVD and CD together with a detailed booklet! Unfortunately, I know, this isn't possible most of the time. However, I appreciated both releases that much that I can only give the highest rating of five stars. I would like to compliment all the people involved with The Galactive Collective Definitive Edition and The Galactive Collective Live in Gettysburg. Both releases are superb!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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