A lot of cool music can come from unexpected places. I’ve never been to Hungary myself, but they must be doing something right over there if they’re producing bands as good as the instrumental, prog-rock powerhouse Special Providence, especially considering their latest album, 2012’s Soul Alert.
The most noticeable thing about the music is that nearly everything, especially the main melodies, is very heavily keyboard-driven. This is a mixed blessing, as the keyboardist Cséry Zoltán does have the tendency to get bogged down in his own flashy keyboard effects, sometimes to the point of annoyance. This, thankfully, is pretty rare, however. Most of the time, his frequent leads lend the music an almost indescribably cool nature. And though he drives it, it's not just him; the entire band plays with an eye towards making the music sound catchy and interesting without beating you over the head with simple melodies. Tracks like "Lazy Boy" and "K2" in particular definitely show what they can do when they want to rock your metaphorical socks off.
Their music also has this jazz-like sense of musicality to it, probably bordering on fusion. The music feels very free-form and widely expressive, covering a vast array of genres and moods; they can shift from styles as various as extremely light swings to bass-heavy dance club beats to extremely heavy metal in the space of a single piece. It's quite clear that all of the musicians are incredibly talented, and this is especially true during the many solo opportunities. A lot of the solos mix in technical flair alongside the melodic with ease. It's like listening to Buckethead when he writes actual music--tons of fantastic, imaginative songwriting spiced with incredibly skillful soloing.
Some of the slower pieces do feel like they lumber on a bit too long compared to the rest of the album, and unfortunately, they tend to congregate towards the end of the album. Rather than serving to pace it in between the more upbeat and heavy tracks (which all tend to be at the front of the album), they instead make it feel like it drags on for the last couple of minutes or so. "The Incredible Flower" in particular does take a little bit too long to really get itself started. That's not to say the pieces are bad, mind you; it's just that the album isn't really paced in such a way as to get the full enjoyment out of them. The notable exception is the closer, "Fences of Reality", which is also the only piece that feels out of place. It's the same music as "Lazy Boy" but with some vocals recorded to go along with it. It does sound pretty awesome, but as the lone, token vocal piece, especially as a remix, it does sound a little weird in comparison to the rest of the album.
Basically, if you're a fan of jazz fusion bands like the Dixie Dregs, metal fusion projects like Liquid Tension Experiment, or technical instrumental bands like Canvas Solaris, you'll definitely enjoy this album. There's a lot to digest, but it's still good from beginning to end.
7.5 / 10
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