From Jan Hammer, Al Di Meola and Dream Theater to dizzying newbies Native Construct, Berklee School Of Music consistently gets the best out of its progressively-minded alumni. Houston’s Zach Kamins studied there in the mid noughties, and An Endless Sporadic’s 2009’s self-titled debut – produced by one Roine Stolt – alerted us to his brand of refined, heady prog.
But on this follow-up he takes things to the next level. Magic Machine is massive in scope, its enchanting, orchestrated soundscape hewn from retro synths, French horns, piccolo and, kid you not, ‘hand-hammered lasagne warming trays’. Kamins’ dextrous keys and beautifully rendered guitars weave together universe-wide opener The Departure, Galactic Tactic and the title track itself – all incredible achievements in sound and composition.
Stolt is back with a soaring solo on the delightful Sea Voyage (part-shanty, part Yes epic), Jonas Reingold plays bass, and Jordan Rudess guests on Sky Run and Through The Fog. But don’t let these star turns distract from the main man. His truly progressive musical heart pushes the blood through a record that will enrich the lives of those of us into the real-deal artists – Hackett, Zappa, Wakeman – like little else this year. Pure prog of the highest order.