With Italian bassist Marco Bernard, American Steve Unruh on guitar/vocals and Finnish drummer Kimmo Pörsti, this truly international project features many guests, including Änglagård’s Linus Kåse, Glass Hammer’s Kamran Alan Shikoh, and (contributing fantastic piano throughout) The Musical Box’s David Myers.
Fans of vintage prog, their first two albums were comprised of cover versions, but The Imperial Hotel features self-penned, decidedly old school compositions. Opener After The Echoes is Yes as played by Brand X – high-register vocals, big harmonies, majestic refrains and Pörsti’s clattering Collins-meets-Bruford playing. Into The Lake is Gentle Giant meeting The Beach Boys, and the 28-minute title track is a cover of UK band England’s officially unreleased 1975 epic. Repeated listens reveal charm and inventiveness, but ultimately this lovingly reworked Gothic tale of a hotel without guests has a grasp that exceeds its reach, with not quite enough hooks and musical moments to carry the narrative. The songwriting may not always match the chops and vision, but this is still a joyous evocation of yesteryear’s prog.