Roger Powell – Fossil Poets

Many listeners will be most familiar with keyboardist Roger Powell from his days with Utopia. While he’s been relatively silent in terms of releases, Powell has been active, doing everything from developing early software sequencers to consulting for Apple’s pro audio area.

Fossil Poets, Powell’s latest solo CD, finds him paired up with producer Gary Tanin and guitarist and bassist Greg Koch. The CD is an collection of instrumentals that fall somewhere in the range between prog rock and jazz fusion. Keyboards and programmed percussion feature prominently on most tracks, but Powell also exercises his piano chops on several tracks.

On his site, Powell cites Emerson as inspiration for the CD:

Emerson’s notion of fossil poetry: ‘just as in some fossil, curious and beautiful shapes of vegetable or animal life…are permanently bound up with the stone, and rescued from that perishing which would otherwise have been theirs,- so in words are beautiful thoughts and images, the imagination and the feeling of past ages, of men long since in their graves’

The tracks are quite varied. Some, like Zentegrity, have an almost new age vibe, while others have more of a mellow jazz feel, like Mile Per Gallon. Peaceful Uprising mix and matches prog rock staples like tabla and harmonized guitar solos with breakbeats. While some tracks sound very in tune with current electronica, others sound like they could be lost tracks from the seventies.
Throughout the CD, there’s lots of interesting guitar and synth work.

The highlights of the CD are the more aggressive, driving tracks. One example, Fallout Shelter, features a timeless Moog-style sequencer synth line, over which acoustic and electric guitar layer jagged phrases.
There’s plenty on the CD to keep fans of prog keyboard work happy.

The once criticism we have of Fossil Poets, and this is subjective, has to do with its mastering. Powell seems to have gone for a more traditional use of compression. In this case, his more driving tracks could have benefited from more aggressive compression to give them a more contemporary sound.
Tracks:

  • Lone Gunman
  • Fallout Shelter
  • Delayed Reaction
  • Test Drive
  • Creme Fraiche
  • Too Much Rain
  • Underwater City
  • Dauphine
  • Tribe By Fire
  • Miles Per Gallon
  • Peaceful Uprising
  • Serpentine
  • Zentegrity
  • Osmosis
  • Astrae

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