It was about time that these 'clever guys' of the American progressive rock act Rocket Scientists would come up with a new album. Since their compilation box Looking Backward (2007), they created nothing new in the recording studios. However, recently they released a way too short CD called Supernatural Highways. Since this new album has a playing time of only half an hour, you could say that it actually is an EP, but was it worth the wait? A simple yes would probably do!
Mark McCrite (guitars), Erik Norlander (keyboards) and Don Schiff (NS/Sticks, cello) recorded an EP of which the largest part consists of the epic track Traveler On The Supernatural Highways. During this 26-minute long instrumental piece many elements from several different musical styles have been incorporated: from prog rock to classical music, from Indian music to fusion and from electronic music to jazz-rock. So never a dull moment, I guess. Furthermore I heard fragments that could have been taken from Welcome To The Machine by Pink Floyd, from the album Wish You Were Here (1975). I also noticed small parts of Mama, a hit single by Genesis . Especially the guitar sound could have been taken from their eponymous album (1983). However, the most obvious parts came from Underwater Sunlight (1986, see review) by Tangerine Dream. Rocket Scientists used the same kind of sequencer and synthesizer sounds and sampled female voices. Besides these well-known sounds more than enough original solos can be heard performed on the synthesizers, fretless bass guitar and electric guitars. So these musicians are certainly no copycats!
The EP ends with a track that already sounded familiar to me when I played it for the first time. Without looking at the title of this piece, I knew that it had something to do with a theme of a James Bond movie or any other movie score. Initially I thought it was the soundtrack of the cult classic Easy Rider (1969), but after checking the credits I read its title: On Her Majesty's Secret Service. This is also the title of the sixth James Bond movie of which the original music was written by the late John Barry (1933- 2011). This British composer and conductor of film music composed the scores for eleven James Bond movies between 1963 and 1987. Maybe someday Erik Norlander will take his place and will compose several themes and soundtracks as well.
The way the musicians of Rocket Scientists arranged and performed this tune might draw the attention of the people who are responsible for engaging soundtrack writers. They recorded this piece together with Gregg Bissonette (drums), Greg Ellis (percussion), Lana Lane (vocal pads), Jon Papenbrook (trumpet) and Eric Jorgensen (trombone). The use of synthesizers made this new version an enjoyable variation on this well-known James Bond theme!
Although the playing time of this EP was only half an hour, I very much enjoyed Supernatural Highways. The music isn't that original but kept me focussed throughout. In the liner notes Mr. Norlander wrote that more music is to be expected soon from Rocket Scientists. Well, I can hardly wait, but I have to!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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