Progressive Worlds is the mesmerising debut release from Berlin based quintet, Green Desert Tree. This is a powerful concept album which presents scenes from the life of its protagonist, Mat Plundrot a neighbourhood character known to composer and keyboard maestro Tim Sund. While the character existed, wandering the streets every day talking to himself, the events are fictionalised as the band invite us in words and music to immerse ourselves and imagine who he might have been and what made him into this person about to ascend to the heavens.
The first and last tracks use the device of the Balloni or Spheres painted in music to draw the listener in to this world of imagination and then bid the ultimate farewell. In between scenes are presented achronologically and as these present a conundrum in this patchwork of a life, so the music reaches out to a bewildering range of progressive stylings. Write out a who's who of progressive music and you will hear something inspired by all of them in here. But relax, this is not a mere case of copying styles of stealing riffs, more a true display of virtuoso showmanship, each time the form matches the content perfectly whether flirting with experimental jazz or melodically musing with the hey-nonny-no-ness of folk inspired prog. (I am relieved to report that there is mercifully little of the latter, but it would be remiss of me not to mention it). The range of this band is extraordinary. They seem to be able to master any style from Steven Wilson to full blown G'n'R. There is extraordinary confidence in this young band, juxtaposing airy ballads such as Life with darker elements within Plundrot's life hinted at by Beast Of Prey and the central motif of the eponymous track. Occasionally on something as ambitious as this, 'Even Homer nods,' as they say and this latter track betrays on of the minor faults of, to put it bluntly, going on too long, or certainly longer than the song merits. Others, more learned will disagree, I am sure, and it's a minor quibble (and an odd one for a prog critic, I know), but if I were to dare to pass on anything to this great bunch of musicians it would be to maintain a focus and resist the temptation to throw everything into every song. Sometimes even great material has to be cut for the sake of the overall concept.
But I wouldn't want to end on that negative note. Progressive Worlds does everything it says on the label. The worlds within this release are many, multi-layered, kaleidoscopic, engaging and immaculate in execution. Green Desert Tree are another incredible addition to the growing body of young German progressive musicians and a very exciting development in the progressive scene.
**** Andrew Cottrell
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