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Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 2, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This is the ground breaking music portion of the book and CD project. Here you have a music CD whose story and lyrics were written by bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson with his author wife Rebecca Moesta. Employing the musical and keyboard talents of E


It s not unusual for the paths of Science Fiction and Progressive Rock to intersect. There have been a number of times where the work of famous sci-fi writers has been the inspiration for some heady projects. But I can t really remember another project where the writer in this case Kevin J. Anderson actually gets involved with the project to use the musical scope of prog to provide a crossover project for his work. This is the musical interpretation of Anderson s new novel Terra Incognita: Beyond the Horizon. The musicians brought together to create the music go by the name of Roswell Six and consist of: Erik Norlander (keyboards) ROCKET SCIENTISTS, Lana Lane (female lead vocals), Kurt Barabas (bass) UNDER THE SUN and Executive Producer Shawn Gordon. The band is then supported by quite a talented crew: James LaBrie (vocals) DREAM THEATER, Michael Sadler (vocals) SAGA, John Payne (vocals) ex-ASIA, David Ragsdale (violin) KANSAS, Gary Wehrkamp (guitar) SHADOW GALLERY, Chris Quirarte (drums) PRYMARY, Chris Brown (guitar) GHOST CIRCUS, Mike Alvarez (cello) and Martin Orford (flute) IQ. Indeed it s a stellar cast.

The music of Terra Incognita was composed and produced by Norlander so it should not be a surprise to hear that there is a ring of familiarity if you are familiar with his other projects. That said this is very much a project with its own distinctive qualities. These 13 tracks, most in the five-minute range are best described as hard-edged symphonic prog; not really prog-metal by any stretch of the imagination but with enough crunchy guitar to satisfy that crowd as well. There are guitars, flutes, violins and keyboards aplenty taking turns at performing solos centre-stage. This is after all a story about war, dragons and ship-wrecks so it needs to be grand and in many cases aggressive. And here the music and multi-vocal delivery really works well presenting us with a larger-than-life panoramic vista. The CD opens with one of the more complex pieces; Ishalem [11:02] the longest track on the disc and there are plenty of musical change-ups here as the story is introduced and it seems everyone, vocalist and instrumentalist gets a chance to shine in the spotlight. From there you can follow along in the booklet where Anderson has written short introductions to each piece helping fill in the story line. The only tracks that approach a similar level of complexity and musical diversity would be the two instrumentals The Sinking of the Luminara [5:44] and The Edge of the World [4:43]. The second track of the story, like many of those that follow alternate between being up-tempo chunky-guitar compositions with parping-synths accents or slower emotion-laden ballads featuring acoustic guitars. Vocals alternate throughout depending on whose story is being spotlighted or who is telling the tale.

The music of Roswell Six is pretty faultless in its execution: these are talented musicians and the detailed and adventurous arrangements more than make up for any lack of compositional complexity. These are songs that focus on the story and that is as it should be. I m pretty sure fans of any of the bands detailed above are going to absolutely love this disc. It s an epic musical adventure that has much to recommend it. My guess is Terra Incognita will make many of the years Best of... lists, and so it should. Well done! --Jerry Lucky

Husband and wife best-selling authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta have teamed up with Rocket Scientists keyboardist Erik Norlander to create the concept album Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon, under the project name Roswell Six. The CD s lyrics were written by Anderson and Moesta, and are adapted from a storyline from the first novel in Anderson s Terra Incognita trilogy, The Edge of the World.

As Anderson explains in the liner notes to the CD, Shawn Gordon of ProgRock Records reached out to Anderson to introduce him to some new music on the label. Anderson suggested the book/CD crossover project. In the CD s liner notes Anderson discusses music as an influence on him, lists several prog bands as these influences, and points out that much of the music he liked was itself influenced by science fiction and fantasy. Gordon recruited Norlander to compose the music and produce the CD. Gordon is executive producer of the project, and Anderson is co-executive producer.

A talented array of musicians participated in the making of the CD. They include four vocalists - James LaBrie (Winter Rose, Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Ayreon, Shadow Gallery, Frameshift, True Symphonic Rockestra), Michael Sadler (ex-Saga), Norlander s wife and prog solo artist Lana Lane (also Rocket Scientists, Ayreon), and John Payne (ex-Asia, Asia featuring John Payne, GPS, CCCP, Roger Daltrey, Lunatica, Lisa LaRue). In addition to the music composition and production duties Norlander plays keyboards. Kurt Barabas (Under The Sun, Amaran s Plight) plays bass. Chris Quirarte (Prymary) occupies the drum stool. Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) plays electric guitars, and Chris Brown (Ghost Circus) plays acoustic and additional electric guitars. David Ragsdale (Kansas, Native Window, Louise Mandrell, The Smashing Pumpkins, Jason Bonham, Queensrÿche), handles violin, and Mike Alvarez plays cello. Martin Orford (ex-IQ, ex-Jadis, John Wetton) plays flute.

I will try and not give away too much of the CDs storyline. Opening track Ishalem kicks in with some dramatic pipe organ style keyboard playing from Norlander, along with a heavy, symphonic intro that immediately tells you, you are in for a concept opera ride. All four vocalists contribute to this track. This CD is my first experience listening to Sadler and Lane, and they are both awesome vocalists. I will say however that Lane s vocal contribution is a little lost in the mix on the opening track. Sadler s voice is phenomenal, certainly much better than Saga s new singer Rob Moratti. LaBrie s singing is acceptable, and Payne s voice is a vast improvement from what could only be described as the vocal shredding you hear on the last Payne-era Asia CD. Ragsdale s violin solo on the opening track recalls the violin styling of Lucy Wilkins (ex-touring Roxy Music). Orford tosses in some flute accents at the end of the track.

In addition to the harder tracks, there are also a few lighter ballads. The heartbreaking Letters In A Bottle showcases Brown s acoustic guitar and the nicely complemented strings of Alvarez and Ragsdale. Brown s playing and Anderson s lyrics on this track together recall the great acoustic ballads of Greg Lake.

On Anchored, LaBrie shows his ability to sing a rock ballad, and Norlander s organ style keyboard playing along with Anderson s faith-centered lyrics give the song a religious feel.

Here Be Monsters offers some fine transition between the different vocalists singing from the points of view of the concept s characters . I would have preferred a couple lines from the point of view of the sea monsters, but I m just being silly.

Although some of the heavier tracks sound alike, they help to retain the CD s continuity. In fact, several of the musical themes are revisited in the CD s closing instrumental track --Dutch Progressive Rock Pages

What we have here is a unique crossover project from the international renowned author Kevin J. Anderson with ProgRock Records. Terra Incognita is indeed a novel ( Terra Incognita: The Edge Of The World ) as well as an epic/progressive rock album ( Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon ). Lyrics are provided by Anderson and his wife, Rebecca Moesta, while Erik Norlander signed for the music and the production. Knowing what a professional this keyboard wizard is, you may rest assured that this is a real quality product. What makes it a complete success, is the cast of musicians, including the vocalists James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Michael Sadler (ex-Saga), Lana Lane (wife of Norlander) and last but not least John Payne (Asia feat. John Payne).
Since I got this masterpiece, it hasn t left my CD player. Not only the storyline is interesting (everything can be followed in the 16-page booklet), the same can be said from the music, which has been recorded at various studios between June 2008 and March 2009. And what to think of the players? Among them are guitarist Gary Wehrkamp of Shadow Gallery, bassist Kurt Barabas of Amaran s Plight, drummer Chris Quirarte of Prymary, violinist David Ragsdale of Kansas and flutist Martin Orford of IQ. I know that looks impressive on paper (or on your screen), but believe me when I say that it is as impressive when you hear them play together on this album. Don t ask me to point out the best tracks, because this is the kind of album you have to listen to as a whole, preferably with headphones on and with the booklet within handreach. Stop reading and order your copy immediately. I m sure you won t regret it! --Rock Report

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Product details

  • Audio CD (June 2, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ProgRock Records
  • ASIN: B0026IZRHA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,569 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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