Lars Boutrup's Music For Keyboards -
The Great Beyond

(CD 2020, 49:59, Ex'cess Records )

The tracks:
  1- The Rising
  2- Mr. T
  3- Whatever Mama Said
  4- Dripping Cycles
  5- Jerry and the Suitcase
  6- Inventio
  7- Ich Will Tanzen
  8- Klavier Stück Für Freude
  9- The Great Beyond

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Lars Boutrup is a Danish keyboard player. So far he has released three albums as Lars Boutrup's Music For Keyboards. Music For Keyboards came out in 2005. Followed by The Symphonic Dream in 2011. In 2015 he finally released Small As A Ball.

Now five years after the last album Small As A Ball, Lars Boutrup released his fourth work under the project name Music For Keyboards. Like the predecessors, The Great Beyond also gives you the right dose of instrumental progressive rock mainly performed on the organ. This time around he is accompanied by Niels W. Knudsen on bass and Spike Noir on drums.

How does Boutrup succeed on the new album? There are a lot of pieces that appeal even if the overall impression has some left to give. The skill of the instruments is faultless as are the arrangements, as lovers of symphonic music, here are a number of tracks for that taste. Here you will find both atmospheric parts and melodic pieces. All of the nine compositions are written by Lars Boutrup and are this time around mainly up tempo pieces except for Inventio and Klavier Stück Für Freude.

These are the compositions on which the rhythm section went out for a break. They are probably for me the highlights on the album. Inventio is a great piece of music which sounds like an orchestra but performed on the string synthesizers. What I like most about this tune, is Boutrup's taste for wide-ranging orchestrations and his ability as a symphonic arranger, he certainly does not lack the ambitions of a classical composer. Anybody who can read the German language knows what Klavier Stück Für Freude means in English. A piano piece for joy translated. Well the title says it all. It's just a clever classical piano piece, nothing more nothing less. Reminding me a little of the Late Keith Emerson because of the bit of jazzy influences.

As for the other up tempo pieces on the album you could say they are mainly happy tunes to listen to. Some of the titles here also tell you what to expect. For example Ich Will Tanzen is in English I want to dance. And you can mainly dance on up tempo music, right? The best up tempo piece is without doubt the title track. Here Boutrup relies primarily on fat organ and synthesizer sounds and you can hear he is very much inspired by artists such as Keith Emerson or Jon Lord. But also the Dutch keyboard player Rick van der Linden (Trace and Ekseption) might be one of his influences without any doubt.

Even if bombast, spherical elegance and massive themes prevail, the music also has a certain groove and catchy melody, which enable relatively easy access to the music. So the music ticks professionally interpreted and nicely staged in the best keyboard prog manner, usually rather cheerfully.

If you have a soft spot for symphonic keyboard music and if you like Ars Nova, The Nice, Trace, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Ekseption, Gerard to name but a few, this might be your cup of tea. You can certainly try out this release as well, but beware these are only references. Because Lars Boutrup's Music For Keyboards has certainly a style of his own and is certainly not a copy cat!

***+ Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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