Moraz Alban Project

Independent release, 2015

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Okay, I don’t hate Patrick Moraz as a person. I just do not agree with his synthesizers.

Moraz contributed to Yes’ Relayer while Rick Wakeman was out of the band for the first of 23 times and helped that album become one of the more difficult but, I’m told, more rewarding albums of the band’s career. He then went and ruined the Moody Blues in the 1980s, though that was probably due more to record label marketing of image over sound. But if I never hear my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Sur La Mer again, it will be too soon.

With that history, I had hoped Moraz’ recent project with drummer Greg Alban would take the opportunity to break away from the horribly dated, cheesy synthesizer sound of the 1980s and those Moodies albums, but it does not. It sounds like Moraz is either playing a little Casio keyboard that you get at Toys R Us, or else he hasn’t updated his sound since Reagan was sworn in. Either way, this is difficult to sit through with a straight face.

It doesn’t help that three of the songs have "Alien" in the title. One is called "Mumbai Mantra" and the horn section on "Canyon Afternoon" sounds like it came directly from a 1980s TV show theme song. The whole event just comes off a little... corny, I guess, like two older guys trying to be hip in 2015. Such an approach, of course, has merit for those just looking for an unpretentious, mildly jazzy keyboard ‘n’ drums instrumental disc. I realize that’s a small portion of the populace, but I don’t know how else to market it.

The thing is, Moraz has quite a pedigree outside of his famous groups. He had helmed a trio and quartet and released some pretty good music, and he knows his way around a keyboard without a doubt; you don’t get hired to replace Rick Wakeman if you don’t. Moreover, he has always explored jazz and world music throughout his career, and that is the basis for many of these songs. But MAP dilutes these fertile influences into samey-sounding, inoffensive background songs. The moody “Alien Species” and the bassline on “Strictly Organic” are minor highlights, revelations on what could have been.

It’s just a general disappointment considering the talent and the opportunity on hand.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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