RPWL – Beyond Man and Time

I really like Progressive Rock and Metal. I love Pink Floyd, I love Porcupine Tree, I love where Opeth has been heading lately and I really love TOOL. These bands pretty much define Progressive Music to me.

However, over the last few years, various so-called Progressive albums have come across my desk and unfortunately, most have been disappointing to say the least. Progressive music done right is a powerful thing, it can trigger the imagination is so many ways, but when done wrong, it makes for an excruciating listen. As such, whenever a new album by a Progressive band comes my way, I tend listen with a little apprehension. 

So as I read the press release for the new album by RPWL and I saw the words “art rock band” and “concept album,” as well as all the philosophical references, I immediately became a little apprehensive, suspecting this might be another slab of progressive over indulgence. However, as I pressed play I quickly overcame my prejudices and found that “Beyond Man and Time” is an excellent album.

Although they’ve been around for well over a decade, I had yet to hear of the German band RPWL. The band started out as a Pink Floyd cover band and quickly began creating their own music, but that progressive foundation remains.  They have several albums under their belt but “Beyond Man and Time” marks their first concept album. The album takes reference form Platon’s Cave, the famous philosophical concept laid out in Socrates’ “Allegory of the Cave.”  That concept is future explored based on Nietzche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” The concept tells the story of the “protagonist is on a journey and meets various characters, partly adapted from Zarathustra, as means towards new insight.” It tells of the protagonist journey in a “world “beyond man and time” where “there already are creatures of higher knowledge that the protagonist meets allegorically along his way: the keeper of the cave, the willingly blind, the scientist, the ugliest human, the creator, the shadow, the wise man in the desert and the fisherman.” This is some pretty heavy stuff here, but the band handles it well, never sounding pretentious.

Concept albums can be difficult, while trying to maintain continuity throughout the entire piece, some bands lose focus on the individual songs. but on “Beyond Man and Time” RPWL successfully maintain a balance between the concept as a whole and the individual songs.  It’s a solid listen all the way, and while each song can stand on its own, in does in fact it works best when listened as a whole. 

The music is full of those standard progressive trappings, yet the album remains very original and it avoids falling into a progressive rut.  The music is expansive, with long, hypnotic passages. With exotic elements such as oriental procession and a sitar, the sound goes to very emotional and imaginative places.

Keyboardist and vocalist Yogi Lang sums up the album best:

““The goal is to open eyes, look further, see more, and see differently. Words that everybody approves of are not going to lead to progress. We call that: “deadlock of the spirit”. Too many approaches of our time disappear in the void of the equal – the conformist.

This piece does not want to be conformist – actually, the exact opposite. It is a plea for original thinking, for dissent, for liberation.

A plea.

No poetry.

No science. “

This is an excellent record and if you’re into Floyd or Porcupine Tree, you should like “Beyond Man and Time.”

In addition to the standard release, the album will also be released in a special edition, limited to 2,000 copies that includes an additional audio book that connects the music even more closely to the philosophical approach, plus a topographic map of the new world that is to be explored.

“Beyond Man and Time” will be released March 13th

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~ by silentium1 on February 7, 2012.

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