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Theo: The Game Of Ouroboros

Jazz keyboardist gets conceptual on his powerful new album.

Keyboardist Jim Alfredson has been highly regarded in the jazz world for some time through his work with the Organissimo trio, and here we find him taking a step into the progressive rock genre.

His Theo project is inspired by his love of the giants of the 70s, and this album finds him blending those influences into a highly distinctive whole over seven lengthy tracks. Alfredson’s jazz pedigree forms a framework upon which he constructs an expansive and varied work, with his keyboards to take much of the lead. A cool, Steely Dan shuffle underpins many of the vocal sections here, and the songs develop through long instrumental sections, with ELP and Genesis acting as frequent touchstones. The treatment of the concept (power and authority) is a little on-the-nose at times, but the album works nicely: the icy claustrophobia of The Blood That Floats My Throne develops with genuine grandeur, and closer Exile builds into a panoramic climax owing much to the Genesis template. Maybe a stronger vocalist could have been utilised, but the solid instrumentation throughout (Zach Zunis’ guitar on the title track is stunning) makes this is an impressive debut.