German band RPWL are into their third decade as an active band now, still going on strong and continuing to develop their accessible and melodic approach to the art of progressive rock. “Tales From Outer Space” is their ninth studio album, and will be released in March 2019 through German label Gentle Art of Music: A label the band set up a few years back to release their own music as well as albums by other artists.
RPWL started out as a Pink Floyd cover band, and while they have developed quite a bit over the years remnants of that sound are still a part of the music they create today. There are numerous key differences though, and for starters RPWL as of 2019 isn’t as dark as far in terms of mood and atmosphere. Where the most popular varieties of Pink Floyd can be both dark and borderline oppressive, RPWL appears to favor melancholic moods for starters.
As an album experience, this latest one is a trip into seven subtly different realms. Opening cut and lead single ‘A New World’ arguably the most impressive of these, with effective use of darker, harder guitars with and without organ support, alternating with a delicate vocals and Mellotron arrangement.
Otherwise we have material that is borderline AOR here, not too far removed from, say, “Hold Your Fire” era Rush, slower paced majestic progressive rock in the Floydian vein; while a song like ‘Not Our Place to Be’ is a most suitable companion piece to ‘Swords and Guns’ from RPWL’s previous album. The band also dips their toes into a more typical neo-progressive landscape along the way, before concluding with a vocals driven, effective and charming ballad that develops into a darker, melancholic creation with a subtle but noticeable nerve to it.
The space associations from the album title plays out in a few different manners here, and the use of cosmic sounding keyboard effects is a part of this. Not that this is anything new to the band, but perhaps given a slight heavier emphasis here and there this time around. Other than that my impression is that there are a few possible nods in the direction of both Andrew Latimer (guitar solo) and Eloy (keyboards) here and there, although if they are accidental or planned will probably remain an open question. And, of course, mix and production is impeccable throughout.
RPWL continues to develop as a band, but the changes and alterations are mainly subtle. Those who tend to favor the more accessible aspects of Gilmour-era Pink Floyd is still my impression as a key audience for this band, along with those who are existing fans of RPWL obviously. “Tales From Outer Space” isn’t an album that will convert those who didn’t enjoy this band previously, but if accessible, melodic and atmospheric laden progressive rock is your thing, this album is as good as any other in terms of discovering whether RPWL deliver music you need – or not.
My rating: 83/100
- A New World
- Welcome to the Freak Show
- Light of the World
- Not Our Place to Be
- What I Really Need
- Give Birth to the Sun
- Far Away From Here