Persephone's Dream
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Persephone's Dream

Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE

Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE
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"Another 5 star review for Pan - An Urban Pastoral"

Persephone's Dream have made an offering of melody and dense music, poured out onto a labyrinthine canvas of artistic beauty.

Persephone's Dream have provided an astounding triumph of symphonic heavenly headphone bliss. "Pan: an Urban Pastoral" is an astonishing achievement in progressive excellence. The album is a tour de force of passion and power. There are many variations in style but undisputed prog time sigs and structures throughout. Some tracks sound very accessible and at other times are totally dissonant or off kilter. The musicianship is virtuoso with many instruments played to perfection.

The concept is heavy and deeply grounded in solid mythological roots. The story of Pan, the labyrinth, the divinations of goddesses, Daphnis, Icarus, Selene and Erato are all encompassed in the sprawling storyline by Kelly Fletcher, given a modern twist. The CD booklet delves into the storyline in detail following the traditional tale of the protagonist youth who encounters nature in all its splendour, from the initial discovery of the leaf, meadows, the sky, and birdsong, the perpetual soundtrack of nature's lifeforce. This is dismissed as an hallucination, and then the concrete and mortar returns reminding him of the reality that nature had been stamped out by the hand of man. The pollution and squalor of the modern crowded city is deplorable to the youth, and he questions why this has happened; why has the violation of nature occurred. His questions lead him to his ultimate destiny. The disenchanted youth wanders in thought and kicks over a pot plant only to see a glowing leaf pulsing with an inner light, to the musical rhythmic patterns and he seems to merge to another time when the meadows were green and everpresent. He encounters the clawed Maenads, who sing to him of his destined lover waiting in the forest. He is to meet the Lord Pan, a horned faun of immeasurable influence on nature. The youth is transported into another forest where he meets mythical creatures, and Pan is there and sings to the youth, causing him to believe in the dream that his heart's desire will come to fruition. With a snap of the fingers Pan transports the youth back to the city. The nature god is surrounded by the massive buildings and crowds, and he instructs the maenads to tell the tale of his past youth, and each ones takes their turn to recount a piece of Pan's story.

To reimagine the storyline, the tracks on the album merge together, at times seamlessly, and the whole is actually greater than the sum of its parts. This album is best heard as one entire listen rather than fragments and pieces separated. The singing is excellent from the aggressive vocals of Jim Wauguman, the Urban Youth, to the soft tones of Ashley Peere, the voice of the Maenads, it never ceases to make this reviewer spellbound by its entrancing magic. There is a real sense of timelessness and the music tends to generate images of grand meadows, beautiful goddesses and darkened forests. The drumming of Scot Harvey is amazing, very solid percussion that focusses at times on triplets and fills and yet keeps a steady metrical pattern so that the songs hang together. Rowen Poole is a terrific guitarist and there are goosebump moments where the guitar chimes in with the violining technique or Gilmour-esque flourishes. Roman Prokopenko is an accomplished bassist and he keeps the rhythms pulsating in each track, at times with very complex basslines. John (J T) Tallent is brimming over with talent (he probably gets that all the time!) and he is great on tom toms, enhancing the tribalistic mystical soundscape. Jim Waugaman is a revelation on keyboards, with some innovative keyboard motifs, repetitive pulses mixed with intricate whirls and dervishes on moog, mellotron and organ. The synths are powerful and drive the album along with an uplifting majestic symphonic atmosphere.

There is also a modern injection of effects, notably the busy traffic of cars on an anonymous highway. There are enchanting sounds of birds whistling signifying happiness, there are a myriad of spoken voices that seem to represent the urgency of a new beginning, and there are rather ethereal effects that may represent tribal and jungle environments. The main drawcard is the music and overall structure, and there are moments where the musicians have a chance to shine in many instrumentals, all of which are well executed. The lengths of tracks varies dramatically, there are interludes, preludes, reprises, transitions and spoken pieces; 8 tracks all of which are less than 2 minutes long. There are some moderate length songs, and these are juxtaposed with lengthy tracks, 4 that clock from 7 to 11 minutes in length. After listening to the album a few times there are certain moments that simply shine like blazing fire and become familiar and joyous to the listener. When Ashley begins to sing the chorus of The Tears of Selene, it is one of the most uplifting moments in prog for this reviewer; a truly spine tingling track, and the quintessential highlight on the album. The whole thing should be heard in its entirety as one long album. However, a track by track analysis of the music may help to clarify why I believe this to be a prog masterpiece.

Prelude begins the concept and in effect follows on from the last song on the album, like a musical cycle, with a vintage scratchy effect; sounding like the stylus on vinyl crackling in the groove. The music is a solo flute sound, like a classical dirge.

This leads seamlessly to a quirky and unnerving montage of voices speaking in many languages, repeating phrases about Pan. Invocation is supposed to be voices of earth with the dramatis personae of Babel-esque tongues including French, Hindi, Cantonese and Indonesian.

This intros the wonderful 7 and a half minute instrumental, Pan's Labyrinth where the album really takes off. It begins with high pitched pan pipe sounds using a moog synthesizer. The keyboards are a dominant force, complimented by guitars and steady drums. There are some odd metrical figures and symphonic pastoral shades that are blended with furious triggerfinger keyboard shapes, Wakeman style. Hammond and mellotron attacks are augmented by sporadic drumming and a fusion of heavy prog riffs. It is a simply wonderful piece of music.

Those Who Remember begins with heavy traffic sounds, perhaps showing how nature has been overwhelmed by the concrete jungle of modernity. The track takes on a beauty of its own with Ashley's vocals that are high soprano and emotionally charged. The sweet presence of the keyboards is a dynamic sound. The song sounds like Mostly Autumn's style, nature, peace, the environment and the praise of creation at the forefront of the concept.

Chaossong chimes along with waterfalls flowing and birds twittering their peace song. The instrumental sounds like nature has found a voice and is crying out for freedom. The music surges along with peaceful bell tones and birdsong, an intro to the excellent following track.

"The world is dying, leaving me awake, aware, regretful for my life"; the vocals are given a powerful plea to awaken the sleeping ignorant humanity that destroyed the lush green forests for human greed and modernisation. Mid way through Sidewalk Soliloquy the time sig changes to a quicker tempo with some mystical female choral voices, beautifully harmonised representing the tale of the Maenads, the impending doom of natural creative forces fighting against the cemented sidewalks and massive manmade constructions suffocating the environment.

The next few tracks merge into another to create one long piece seamlessly fused together and it is difficult to tell where one ends and another begins. Denouement of a God is a song with a powerful beat and Jim's strong vocals as the Youth comes to grips with how nature has been destroyed. Le Defile Satyrique launches with an effect of rain cascading down with a drum pounding instrumental that works as a nice transition into Maenads, Melody and Meter. This song has a few time sigs that shift and change and the dynamic vocal of Jim; "make an offering of melody and sacrifice meter, don't pray to me, only come dance with me." Ubi Sunt has a wonderful melody and aggressive pleading vocals; "where are the woods, where are the herds, and the shepherd boys", as the protagonist surveys the carnage of modern life that has replaced the forests and green foliage with brick and mortar.

One of the best tracks is The Seduction of Daphnis that reprises parts of previous songs, and trades off between beauty and darkness, of tension and release, switching time signatures at will and using a variance of instruments to provide cadence and cascade. Ashley's vocals are more improvised and discordant to the music. Jim has some of his best vocals here; "make an offering of soul and body" and "run with me down to the willows, and lie down by my side." Ashley continues the feel of a magical dreamscape, and there is a heavenly harp sound. I love that lyric; "Come I'll sing to you the chaos song" by Jim and Ashley. The track has a surge of foreboding atmospherics with an emphasis on atonal music, minimalist piano at times, and blasts of Hammond and percussion.

The quirky weird and humoresque Nectar of the Gods is a playful carnival sound with some truly unique keyboards. The strange theatrical vocals of Ashley and bird whistles provide an early Genesis Gabriel like style. The drunken lyrics are as weird as it gets; "quick tipped, her glass to be, the first to drink, to drink insanity." Then after this vaudeville approach, it gets serious with a change in style. The low drone makes the atmosphere darken along with Ashley's ghostly Celtic vocals, which may remind one of Enya; the effect is ethereal and haunting; "sobriety cannot be saved, for madness is divine".

This merges into Youth's Denial where the drone widens into broader brushstrokes of spacey nuances. Then a prog riff on Hammond resounds with a very Roger Waters-like vocal from Jim; "only a vision of folly and flight, I've dreamed late in the night, of the city." The melody on this song is highly infectious and began to haunt me long after the album was over. A definitive highlight on this album.

The Temptation of Icarus is a much heavier song with a driving keyboard and guitar riff that ascends and descends constantly. Jim is forceful on vocals; "you don't know the night has fallen, you tempt my soul to fly, too high." The time sig changes into a brilliant instrumental with spacey effects and a grand guitar riff. The bassline is mesmerising on this, but the way those keyboards interact with the guitars is incredible.

Selene Rising returns to familiar melodies heard before, and then slows into a majestic climax with intricate keyboard and guitar. I am totally hypnotised by that wondrous sound the band generates. The time sigs change dramatically to the next motif that gets faster and faster till we move into the ingenious next track.

Undoubtedly my favourite track on the album, The Tears of Selene has an acoustic rhythm and subtle keyboards that are multi layered. The Heather Findlay style vocals of Ashley are enchanting with a mesmeric beauty. Her high operatic vocals are simply beauty personified. The lyrics themselves are inspired; "rhyme and reason, morning sun, through the blinds, cutting skin, spinning colours inside out, mental treason, onward through, the night it goes into dawn." The song builds gradually and the music rises to a crescendo before the chorus. I get chills when the chorus comes in with "Selene, Selene, midnight dream, eternal lover, Selene, Selene, crashing waves through the walls of time, and distant days." The piano is a virtuoso triumph and the way guitars violin over the surface is dreamy, a genuine moment of transfixing reverie. The track continues to build with the orchestrated symphonic swathes of keyboard. Then there are staccato blasts of sound and the acoustic flourishes begin again. Ashley's sweet voice returns, "long forgotten summer days, we were there side by side, trapped in a rhapsody of sound, on a lonely distant wind, you called me." Once again the song takes on that spine tingling flavour when the chorus pounds out. At the end of the song I know I have heard a masterpiece song. Can it get better, or will the album transcend into mediocrity or run out of steam as so many concept albums are prone to do. I needn't have worried. The album actually continues to provide innovation and heart pounding prog rock.

Erato's Pulse is the longest song clocking 11 minutes, and is driven with very strong prog time sigs and instrumentation. Once again Ashley's vocals are exquisite, and the form of the song takes many detours and surprises with shifts in mood. The keyboard domination is complimented with chimes, huge bass motifs and an astounding hypnotic rhythm. The keyboards and bass drum act as a pulse keeping a rhythmic signature while we hear noises like jungle animals, tribal tom toms, cymbals and retro synth strings. The music locks into this pulse for a time and sounds spacey as Ashley sings; "they hide now in shadow, they whisper now in darkness, they lead with a vision, and mould the dreams from within." The music motorvates along fluidly with organic guitar swells and imaginative basslines. When the band take off in full flight like this they are irresistible. The track turns quite dark towards the end, with dissonant piano stabs, and a chilling finale, finally completed by a loud gong and jungle atmospherics of crickets chirping, the swamp sounds of sticky heat and mosquito infested foliage. The track is a definitive highlight and one to savour for those who like prog to be intricate and replete with variations in style.

Silhouette ends the album on a powerful note, the lyrics spelling out the denouement of all that has come before; "the smoke rises into the pregnant air, across the dark skyline, dense music pours onto the crowded streets across the damp bricks." The retro sound is generated with very solid keyboards motifs, almost the 80s synth sound in effect. The melody is quite accessible and those shimmering Hammond flourishes are excellent. Jim's keyboard solos are a feature as always, especially the spacey synths over the bassline and guitar chord shapes. The spoken words come forth to continue the story; "passion and pleasure chase each other into the night across the humid city," and the song changes again with a strong drum beat and some ancient languages. It finishes with crickets chirping, and then the same effect we will hear in the beginning, the scratchy vinyl sound of an ancient classical piece and then the effect of a record stuck in its groove thus signifying, as the lyrics tell us earlier, that the journey has "come full circle"; an endless cycle in the true mythological tradition.

So at the end of the album, I was completely blown away by the surprising attention to detail in the music and storyline. This is a magnum opus for the band, and takes huge risks in terms of extensive instrumental sections, bombastic lyrics and strong time signature changes. Therefore this could have been a disaster with all the risks it takes; it is bold and daring and dominated by a non-compromised environmentalist storyline. The music draws on many progressive influences from Genesis to Pink Floyd, King Crimson to Porcupine Tree, with touches of Mostly Autumn and Yes, and yet retains a balance and freshness to the approach of the material that is distinctly Persephone's Dream. The album somehow holds together thanks to Kelly Fletcher's storyline and the overall musical soundscape. It may take a few listens to be completely immersed in the sound, but the way the music disseminates across every song, creating a whole conceptual framework, works so well due to the passion put into the project. There is a great deal of love and desire injected into the music, and the imagery conjures up apparitions and spectres of the mythical past. The music beckons one to listen, and weaves its spell around the listener with tranquillity and finesse. On every listen I find myself drawn into the dense layers of light and dark, and I can draw from the concepts a different experience, and can enjoy the moments of familiarity as a specific melody begins. The album takes one on an alluring journey that will resonate uniquely with each listener according to their experience. This masterpiece has the ability to grow on the listener like osmosis, and I never tire of the structures and forms of the sheer inventive prog music created. One of the best albums of 2010!


AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 | 2011-3-12
- Prog Archives


"Pan - An Urban Pastoral a candidate for Album of the Year 2010?"

Beautiful! A strong candidate for album of the year!
Normally I don't start a review with words like that because I love to create some expectations in the readers, I mean you don't really know what I am going to say nor the rating I will bring, but with a title like that, you can imagine that I will speak positively about this extraordinary record, and maybe you can guess my final grade.

Also, if you know my writing style then you know that I like the "song by song" mode, but this time it won't be like that because this album features 19 songs, so describing each one of them would bore the readers, and would take actually a lot of time. So as I said, this album released this year (2010) by American progressive rock band Persephone's Dream features 19 compositions, the majority of them are actually short ones, but there are some five or six longer ones, including the final three.

So now you better put your headphones and sit, because you will have 68 minutes of great, great music, believe me. Now that I mentioned that there are a lot of short songs and some few long ones, I think it is important to say that no matter their length, all of them work together as a whole, as just one body that would not function if any of its parts does not work, what I'm trying to say is that every single part (track) on this album is essential, and helps enjoying the music better.

What you will find here, is a complex, dynamic, dreamy and powerful progressive rock sound, music that will take you to another world (if you allow it) and music that will create on you diverse images, stories and feelings. But well, there is something I would like to mention because it is important, I concur with previous reviewers who said that It takes time to appreciate this album, so please give it at least three listens if you want to receive all its messages and sounds.

The album will tell you a story: "Pan: An Urban Pastoral" so by the title you can imagine a little by what is it about, and what kind of music you will listen. Well, the first moment that caught my attention and made me say wow was the third track entitled "Pan's Labyrinth" which is a seven-minute instrumental song that offers quality, complexity and beauty in all its extent. Then, in "Those Who Remember" and "Sidewalk Soliloquy" you will listen for the first time both, male and female vocals, each one playing a different role, Ashley Peer represents the voice of the Maenads; Jim Waugaman the voice of the Urban Youth; and Dale Mossburg the voice of Pan.

The short instrumental tracks work together as a chain, all of them create different atmospheres that the listener can appreciate, so one can also create his own story and images in his mind. The work of the piano and keyboards is something that caught my attention since the first listens; I believe the different nuances and textures that they give help the music being more enjoyable and lovable to the people who are experiencing it.

Another thing I really like, is that when you think you are listening (by example) the fifth track, you actually are on track seven, I mean as the music runs you are so involved that in moments you don't notice where a track finishes and a brand new one appears, I mean, there are moments where you just listen to the music as a whole, you don't matter if there are 19 tracks on the album, you appreciate it as one.

"The Seduction of Daphnis" is another piece I really liked, because it gathers all the elements that can make you love the album: lyrics, music and all what together create. So I believe it is a pretty strong point of this album. And well, the last three tracks are the longest ones, almost half an hour of great music in only three songs, but the great thing is that there you will LOVE everything, I cannot help but praising this last part of the album, because it really provokes several thing on me, besides enjoying just the music. "Selene Rising" (short) and "The Tears of Selene" (long) comprehend together my favorite part of the album.

But well, please take the time to listen to this gem, buy it , you won't regret. I am really happy with this record, I truly enjoy it every single time I listen to it, and believe me there have been several before writing this review. Though at first I thought about a four-star rating, to be terribly honest what "Pan: An Urban Pastoral" causes on me, is worth rating with five stars.

Enjoy it!
- Progarchives


"Pan - An Urban Pastoral a Prog Masterpiece?"

Persephone’s Dream – Pan: An Urban Pastoral
By gibraltarepr

Whether it was my lackluster review of Pyre of Dreams, the increasing irrelevance of web sites like the GEPR, or just an oversight, Persephone’s Dream didn’t send me a promo when their new album Pan: An Urban Pastoral was released. So, when I saw it on sale from ProgRock Records as a “Christmas Special”, I decided I needed to order it. Maybe it’s just that you appreciate an album more when you buy it. Maybe it’s that Persephone’s Dream has just outdone themselves on this album. Maybe I was just in the right mood. But I have to say Pan: An Urban Pastoral is far and away the best thing PD has ever done.

Though the band members have remained fairly stable since Pyre of Dreams (with the exception of yet another new female vocalist, Ashley Peer and new bassist Roman Prokopenko), Pan sounds very little like the previous albums. Gone is the reverb and goth feel. Gone, too, is what I was calling the “Classic Rock” feel. This album is certainly prog rock, though of a unique kind. It’s a concept album about a young man who lives in the gray, overpopulated city. Sad and depressed, he encounters the god Pan in a series of … uhm … visions? Hallucinations? Teleportations? Even he’s not entirely sure. The encounters with Pan and his wild Maenads in nature settings are odd … just when they become obviously homoerotic, the lyrics appear to step back from this and females become involved … somehow. I’m guessing they were afraid of putting their audience off if they were too transparent on this “touchy” subject (he says with tongue in cheek). The story is chaotic and lusty, and perhaps the primary message that comes through clearly is that we’ve become so mired in our daily controlled techno working lives that we’ve forgotten how important it is to feel the grass between our toes, dance naked in the sunshine and abandon ourselves to pleasure. Surely, this must be Pan’s message to us in the 21st century.

Musically, the instrumentation is stark and crystal clear. There isn’t much of instruments playing simultaneously or washes of string or horn sweetening; instead each instrument stands out individually in sharp relief against the musical equivalent of a black background. Synth passages tend to be single-note lines, perhaps with some crunchy electric guitar chords to set these off, or picked acoustic guitar patterns. In several places, a bass, drum and chord sequence starts, but when the vocals come in they seem to be singing the lyrics to a different song in a key only vaguely related to the chords. On a more poorly produced album, I would say the singer can’t find the right pitch, but here both the male and female vocalists sing with compete authority and control … it’s very clearly supposed to sound this way. I imagine in a few more listenings, the harmonies will “click” and I’ll be saying, “Oh, of course! It’s not wrong, it’s just not what I was expecting.”

Time will tell whether this album will be judged a masterpiece by the prog rock community. It’s already on the top-5 album list from the ProgRock Records label, so it’s doing well as far as sales go. As for my opinion, it’s by far the best Persephone’s Dream album thus far, and is also way better than the vast majority of prog releases, in this year or any other. I’m still getting used to the sound on this recording, which is both extremely professional-sounding and also very odd-sounding in its starkness. I read in an interview that the whole thing was recorded on Mac PC’s using Garage Band (the free recording software that comes with a Mac). If so, I must say this album is a fine example of what can be done with this free software, and makes me want to try it out myself.

In conclusion, Pan: An Urban Pastoral is likely to make my top-10 list for 2010, and is a must-hear for everyone this year. Great stuff, and a giant step for Persephone’s Dream. — Fred Trafton


- Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock


"Best release of 2010?"

Member: jlneudorf (Profile) (All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
Date: 1/2/2011
Format: CD (Album)

Pan: An Urban Pastoral is one of the best albums I have heard in 2010 bar none. Trust me, this album is that good. First a little history of the band.

Persephone’s Dream has been around since 1993 when guitarist Rowen Poole and bass player Chris Siegel got together in Pittsburgh, PA. Female vocalist Judilynn Neidercorn joined the duo and Persephone’s Dream (named after a Greek myth) was born. The band has had quite a few lineup changes through the years and I was not familiar with the band until I heard Pyre of Dreams, released in 2007, which I enjoyed very much. The band’s line-up includes Rowen Poole (6,7 and 12 string guitars, atmospheric synths), John Tallent (percussion, drums, bells, chimes, whistles, odd instruments), Jim Waugaman (piano, organ, Moog, Mellotron, synths, vocals), Scot Harvey (acoustic and electronic drums, vibes, percussion, vocals), Ashley Peer (vocals) and Roman Prokopenko (bass). Although the line-up is slightly different on the new album, it does not suffer because of it. In fact, Pan is a stronger effort than Pyre of Dreams, which I can tell you is no small feat as that is an excellent album as well.

I found the best way to enjoy this album is to totally immerse yourself in the music via a good pair of headphones. No distractions allows one to concentrate on the music and that is exactly what you will want to do when listening to this outstanding release. It is quite a good story and like any concept album worth its salt is worthwhile following along to. The introductory notes and lyrics will shed more light on the concept than I will do here but suffice to say the band put a lot of thought into it. The story involves a young man in the middle of a bustling city scape who suddenly finds himself in more natural surroundings. While in the forest he comes face to face with Pan (the Greek God for nature). This is a world of enlightenment and beauty and our protagonist is not sure if it real or just a dream. This is in direct contrast to the pollution filled city where the young man lives. It is a fascinating storyline and worth investing some time into.

This is quite a varied release as the band touches on folk, classical, ambient, eclectic and heavy prog, but it is mostly symphonic progressive rock that reminds me of those glorious days of the '70s. The music is laced with delicate pastoral passages and harder hitting riffs without venturing into progressive metal. Both guitar and keyboards are used extensively and plenty of vintage sounds can be found throughout. The album mixes both instrumental segments and vocal pieces and many songs are short segue ways into longer compositions. Sound effects are also used effectively often setting up a specific setting or mood. Both male and female vocalists do a fine job and don’t overdue do it with excessive meanderings giving the instruments plenty of room to breathe. The transitions between the songs are very smooth so it is best to listen to the album as a whole as every part is important to the story and the overall experience.

Some of my favourites include the dramatic “Pan’s Labyrinth” where moody guitar parts and airy keyboards intermix while drums and bass hold down the groove and the exotic sounding “Nectar of the Gods” where Eastern sounding backing vocals and foreboding synths provide just the right amount of dramatic tension. The album ends with the epic “Erato’s Pulse”, a complex track with outstanding vocals and stellar synths and the moody “Silhouette” a slightly funky song with a groovy bass line and keyboards giving it a darker edge.

This is superb stuff as Persephone’s Dream is really coming into their own and the new album proves it. This is a complex, varied and melodic piece of work that should give progressive rock fans an abundance of enjoyment for years to come.

- Progressiveears


"High praise for Pan - An Urban Pastoral from The Netherlands DPRP"

Jim Corcoran's Review

I must confess that before writing this review, I had limited knowledge as to who or what Pan was. All I really knew is that he was a dude with like half the body of a goat (on his own body, that is). Upon my receipt of and listening to Pan: An Urban Pastoral, the fifth release from Pittsburgh-based concept proggers Persephone’s Dream, I have a new understanding of the mighty Greek God Pan, checking out some great music along the way.

The following are the musician credits for this latest release from Persephone’s Dream, on recorded duty since 1997. Vocalist Ashley Peer sings from the characters’ role point of the Maenads. Again, before listening to this CD my knowledge base of all things Pan was limited, but the Maenads were apparently Pan’s flock of nymphets. Such a stud, that Pan. The golden-voiced Dale Mossburg sings from the role point of Pan. Scot Harvey plays acoustic and electronic drums, vibes, and percussion. According to the booklet’s credits he handles some vocals as well, but it was unclear when I listened to the CD and checked out the booklet as to where his vocals are contributed. A host of international people under the moniker Voices of Earth, too numerous to mention individually, deliver spoken word elements on one track. Rowen Poole plays 6-, 7-, and 12-string guitars; atmospheric synths, and contributes lyrics to three of the tracks. Roman Prokopenko plays bass. The aptly named John “JT” Tallent plays percussion, drums, bells, chimes, whistles, odd instruments, odd sounds and oddities. Sort of a modern-day Jamie Muir without the dripping blood. Jim Waugaman plays piano, organ, Moog, Mellotron, synths and, voicing the role of the Urban Youth, vocals. Aside from Poole’s three lyric contributions, the rest of the lyrics as well as the Urban Pastoral story come from the talented mind and capable pen of the band’s principal wordsmith Kelly Fletcher. A check of the Persephone’s Dream website does not currently list Peer in the band section, but instead lists newcomer Josie Crooks, making it apparent that since the release of the Pan: An Urban Pastoral Peer has departed the band.

The CD’s concept tells the story of the encounter a youthful resident of an imaginary city has with the tempting, come-hither Maenads and ultimately with Pan himself.

As there are four different voice-based elements on the CD, I shall touch upon them all. In Invocation, the Voices of Earth deploy spoken work elements in a vast palette of tongues ranging from Gaelic to Tagalog and create a theme of global unity.

On Those Who Remember, Peer’s vocals as the symbolic voice of the Maenads are adjoined by a chorus of indigenous birdsong, ostensibly harnessed as the odd sounds of Tallent and which seems to sing along with Peer, Tallent’s chiming percussion flavouring the track.

Waugaman makes his vocal entrance as the voice of the Urban Youth on Sidewalk Soliloquy, which also features some apparent atmospheric synths as well as an acoustic guitar solo from the multi-skilled Poole.

Peer and Waugaman do not have what I would call stellar singing voices, although in regards to Peer admittedly her voice could grow on you after a few listens. Her voice brings those tempting Maenads back into the story as she sings from their point of view in Maenads, Melody And Meter, a piece featuring a bolero style staggered key signature, edgy guitar from Poole (pardon the U2 pun), dark organ and symphonic waterfalls of piano from Waugaman, and the man with the golden pipes, Dale Mossburg, singing from the point of view of the goat-man himself, Pan.

Prokopenko’s bass gets a spotlight on Pan’s Labyrinth [Instrumental], bouncing along and easing into a seventies-style Rush groove towards the end, with Tallent’s odd sounds of city cars driving and horns honking adding a tape effects style landscape which is not overdone and smoothly gives way to the end of the track. Tallent’s drumming and sound effects duties recall another man in a similar role, Dark Side Of The Moon-era Nick Mason.

Persephone’s Dream carves a sound all their own, but does not escape the occasional reference point as is the case with the Peter Gabriel commonalities evident in Tallent’s percussion and Poole’s atmospheric synths on Le Défilé Satyrique [Instrumental], one of five, you guessed it, instrumentals on the CD. Instrumentals can have their place on a concept album if they are not overdone and carefully timed and sequenced, as successfully shown by the late, great Rick Wright on his concept album Broken China.

The overall musicianship and creativity is top-notch on this well-produced and performed CD. The CD booklet contains the Urban Pastoral story as scribed by the aforementioned Ms. Fletcher, as well as the lyrics. So the listener can sit back, pour a glass of Chianti, play the CD, and peruse the lyrics. Which I entreat you to do.

It could be argued that the continuity of the CD is somewhat cramped or crowded with nineteen tracks crammed into under sixty-nine minutes. So with their next studio release, which I await with baited breath, it would be advisable for the band to go with fewer and longer tracks as they have with some of their earlier releases, and perhaps expand things to the 2CD format ala Ayreon and Marillion.

This CD will appeal to fans of elegant, symphonic female fronted concept prog. Purveyors of more conventional fare are advised to look elsewhere to get their Lady Gaga fix.

It will be interesting to see what dynamic Josie Crooks brings to the band, and I look forward to their next release.


Gert Hulshof's Review

Persephone’s Dream is not entirely unfamiliar in the reviews section of DPRP, as all their previous albums have been reviewed here, apart from their debut album. Pan: An Urban Pastoral is the fifth release for this Pittsburgh based band and what have they delivered, I can hardly begin to describe - but I need to anyway.

The title and subtitle say enough really. Pan: An Urban Pastoral, that is just what this album is. Even though it has been divided into nineteen sections, you should never listen to only one track by itself as this would do the album an injustice. Mind you the tracks are playable separately, especially the longer ones but I would not do that, just sit through the entire sixty nine minutes, it will be over before you know it.

What a way to start a review I hear you say, starting out with the conclusion. No it is not. This is such high class conceptual story telling in music it is unbelievable. I have heard nothing like this since, yeah since when...

Now I have read comparisons to Genesis, Camel and even Dream Theater from various sources and I could not agree more with my fellow reviewers from magazines and online sites. So far this is my recording of 2010, for conceptual albums that is.

Now for a breakdown of the nineteen tracks.

All starts with a Prelude which is just what it says, a musical introduction to the score and sounds as if it is played from a very old gramophone player. Segueing directly from the prelude we hear the Invocation, in various languages from all over the world.

Pan’s Labyrinth is the first track of substantial length which is an instrumental flight into the world of our main character Pan. In this first instrumental part of our story a theme is developed, which is addictive with a good melody and structure. At times the music reminds very much of seventies grandeur prog songs, but with a strong modern day attitude.

Next up is Those Who Remember, where we hear the sounds and why this is called an urban pastoral, with cars, birds and other city noises grabbing our attention. Furthermore we get to hear the first lyrics sung by a female voice. It’s almost opera and carried by beautiful melody and playing which are a delight to listen to. Vocally I get pointers towards early works of Ms Kate Bush.

With percussion we enter the next episode, an instrumental interlude called Chaosong, followed by Sidewalk Soliloquy. A male voice this time and the intonation of the music changes slightly with this change in vocals. Basses are a tiny bit more present. It is followed by the reprise of the musical interlude we heard before, but now the music of Chaosong [Reprise] is a bit faster, a bit heavier if you like...

Le Defile Satyrique is an instrumental piece played almost entirely on percussion instruments, which brings us to the tenth episode in the story. Maenads, Melody And Meter - a dialog or duet, if you will, between Maenads and Pan I believe. A high class and very well done section, that is almost classical in approach, especially near the end with the keyboards sounding orchestrated.

Next we have Ubi Sunt, an incantation of what was and still is to be, followed by The Seduction Of Daphnis - again this is a great song and the theme of the story stays ever present. All kinds of twists and changes occur with alterations in the rhythm and performed in a brilliantly constructed way.

Nectar Of The Gods is a song that seems to have come straight out of the catalogues of Kate Bush and Björk. Brilliantly done with a long middle part consisting of percussion, voice, Moog-sounds, and bass. Continuing, Youth's Denial has a change in setting once again - a temptation nevertheless. A Temptation Of Icarus that is. Great bass line and guitars in this track.

We are now going to Selene Rising, it’s as if we need to cross a bridge right now - never in the concept has the theme been back as now. The Tears Of Selene is a classic piece of progressive rock music where everything is present - a great melody, a story line, guitar, keyboards - the works - its fantastic how this sounds. I will never ever get bored of listening to music played and structured so well.

Slowly but surely it is obvious we are working toward some sort of climax in the music and lyrics, however there are only two tracks to come and we are just over halfway in the storyline. The end of The Tears Of Selene is marked by organ sounds, whereas starting Erato’s Pulse we have bells playing. This prompts me to think that a lot of the music in the last songs reminds me of Mike Oldfield, though different stylistically, it is probably the instrumentation that makes this effect. I cannot even tell you the many different instruments I heard, a lot of them percussion instruments.

Silhouette brings the story and the album to an end and again there are no significant differences to the other pieces on the album - lots of percussion, a nicely played keyboard melody and a heavy bass line. All ends as it began with the gramophone playing the music.

Pan: An Urban Pastoral is a work of which Persephone’s Dream can be proud of, it will be extremely difficult to surpass this in the future. But as they saying goes: “never say never” - we do not know yet if this will be possible.

Need I conclude? Well OK here is my mark...

Conclusions:

JIM CORCORAN : 7.5 out of 10
GERT HULSHOF : 9.5 out of 10
- Dutch Progressive Rock Pages


"Nominated as Best Foreign Album for 2010 by Prog Awards in Italy"

Dear Persephone's Dream,

With very pleasure I inform you that yours record "Pan: An Urban Pastoral"? is finalist in the following categories:


-Best Foreign Record.


The Winners, of each category, will be published day February 26, 2011. For more informations visit the official website.


Sincere congratulations.
Jury President
Fabrizio Catalano
- Prog Awards


Discography

Pan: An Urban Pastoral (2010)
Pyre of Dreams (2007)
Opposition (2001)
Moonspell (1999)
Evening Mirage (1997)

Photos

Bio

Persephone’s Dream (fondly known simply as “PD” by fans and members) began as just that: a dream, conceived by founders Rowen Poole and Chris Siegle in the early 1990’s. After the initial release of Evening Mirage (1997), the original conception of PD as a studio band evolved into something far more: a fusion of the auditory, the intellectual, the sensual and…the visual. With the addition of new members and the successive releases of Moonspell (1999), Opposition (2001), and Pyre of Dreams (2007), the band retained its early penchant for creating original female-fronted, progressive music that is musically complex, thought-provoking (most often inspired by science, science-fiction, and mythological lore), and yet laced with subtle overtones of eroticism.

To the mix, they added a solid emphasis on the theatrical and visual elements of performance. Fueled by this combination, PD launched into the public sphere: appearing at festivals such as PowerMad, Progpower, and 3RP (Three Rivers Progressive Festival); gaining broad recognition and critical acclaim in the international Prog, Metal, and Goth communities; and winning over a cadre of fans with the sheer intensity and originality of its music and live shows.

Band Members