Erik's 7th studio album. Finely crafted, meticulously arranged, melodically memorable keyboard-heavy progressive rock along with traditional rock instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums with guest vocals on one track.
ERIK NORLANDER GETS SURREAL Veteran California artist releases new solo album featuring keyboard-heavy prog rock
Surreal is the new full-length visionary album from California keyboardist Erik Norlander. After two recent highly-acclaimed releases with his Rocket Scientists project, Norlander now presents the follow-up to his 2009 solo epic The Galactic Collective released in several forms including a live DVD/CD set. Surreal continues in that spirit with traditional rock band instrumentation fronted by Norlander’s own timeless, signature keyboards. Surreal gives both a nod to the past and puts an eye on the future with lush analog soundscapes, real living human grooves, and unforgettable melodic lead work that will keep the songs playing in the listener’s head long after the music stops.
Like The Galactic Collective, Surreal is mostly an instrumental affair with 5 tracks driven by keyboard and guitar melodies. But there is a sixth song, the title track, that features vocals by Norlander’s chanteuse spouse Lana Lane. Norlander writes in the album liner notes, “If there is only going to be one vocal track on an album, it had better be great, right? The vocal range of ‘Surreal’ is rather wide, going from ballad-like warm lows to stadium-inspired powerful highs. And I think as Lana performs these vocal acrobatics in such an honest and skillful storyteller’s style, you don’t even realize the register shifts as they are happening.”
Surreal employs the same rhythm section of The Galactic Collective with Mark Matthews on bass and Nick LePar on drums. The two have toured with Norlander extensively in the 7 years since The Galactic Collective was released and have become an essential element of Norlander’s signature style. Another familiar face is percussionist, Greg Ellis, who played on 3 other Norlander solo albums including his 1997 debut Threshold. “There’s actually a real thread of continuity with Greg,” says Norlander. “Since The Galactic Collective re-recorded existing compositions, Greg is really the percussionist on the last album of ‘new’ music released under my own name, Seas of Orion, 12 years ago back in 2004!”
Ellis also played on the epic 2014 Rocket Scientists instrumental track, “Traveler on the Supernatural Highways.” And to make the Rocket Scientists connection complete, Surreal also features Don Schiff on cello and NS/Stick, and Mark McCrite on acoustic guitar. Surreal also highlights the guitar work of the always-in-demand Alastair Greene and Jeff Kollman - two of Los Angeles’ finest axemen and stellar musicians that Norlander has worked with on other projects. All three guitarists - Greene, Kollman, and McCrite - toured with Norlander’s band in recent years ahead of this album’s recording, and the well-defined interplay between guitar and keyboards is evidence of that finely built foundation.
Erik Norlander is an accomplished keyboardist, composer and producer with over 40 album credits including 8 previous solo albums, 7 with his Rocket Scientists project, and 10 albums with vocalist wife Lana Lane. He toured with the Asia spinoff Asia Featuring John Payne for 6 years and co-wrote the band’s only original release “Seasons Will Change.” He is currently touring with Last in Line featuring original Dio members Vinny Appice and Vivian Campbell. Outside of the music world, Norlander was the co-designer of the legendary Alesis Andromeda analog synthesizer, and has led many synthesizer and sound design projects for major companies around the world. Norlander also actively works with The Bob Moog Foundation to advance the legacy of the maverick synthesizer pioneer.
Erik and his stellar band perform the complete studio album, "The Galactic Collective," live in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania along with a selection vocal songs mixed into medleys featuring Erik's wife, rock chanteuse, Lana Lane.
Erik Norlander is a progressive rock keyboardist, composer and producer from California. He has written and produced over 30 albums since 1993 with his chanteuse spouse Lana Lane, his band Rocket Scientists, his own solo albums and numerous guest appearances. Erik's evocative keyboard technique is reminiscent of the legendary Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz and Jon Lord while still very unique and forward-moving in its own right. Erik takes many of the classic riffs and phrases of his heroes and reinvents them with highly emotional pitch bending, vibrato and authoritative phrasing. This technique combines brilliantly with Erik's mastery of sound and production. Erik has personally led sound design efforts on several major brand synthesizers, and his knowledge of synthesis and audio engineering are second to none. Erik's perpetual live use of vintage and classic instruments, particularly Moog synthesizers, give his concerts a depth and authenticity of sound seldom seen in modern stage productions.
Erik Norlander was born in Hollywood, California, and grew up studying both jazz and classical music on several instruments from a young age through his years at the university where he also graduated with a degree in English Literature. While clearly a prog rocker, Erik is surprisingly quite adamant that he prefers melody over flashy playing and strong songwriting over artsy meandering.
Erik's latest solo release is a pair of DVD/2CD sets, The Galactic Collective - Definitive Edition (2012), an prog rock tour de force of re-imaginings of his best instrumental compositions written for Lana Lane, Rocket Scientists and his previous solo albums, and The Galactic Collective - Live in Gettysbug (2012), a live version of the same material with some additional vocal songs performed by Lana Lane.
Previous solo albums are Threshold (1997), and instrumental progressive effort with a decidedly electronically bent and Into the Sunset (2000), a prog metal vocal album with a more traditional rock band sound. Erik's third album is a 2CD rock opera concept album with an all-star cast entitled Music Machine about the dramatic rise and fall of genetically engineered rock star. The Music Machine rock opera was released worldwide in June, 2003, followed by a successful European tour with Lana Lane and vocalist Kelly Keeling.
In 2004, Erik released his live recording, Stars Rain Down, featuring concerts in Europe. Later in 2004, Erik released a wholly electronic CD titled Seas of Orion which debuted at the Dutch Alfa Centauri Electronic Music Festival where Erik headlined that year. Erik’s DVD/CD titled Live in St. Petersburg, recorded in the Russian "northern capitol", was released in July, 2006. In 2006 Erik released Hommage Symphonique, an album of classic progressive rock cover songs produced and arranged in Norlander's signature style. Additional recent releases include his band Rocket Scientists’ Revolution Road (October, 2006) and Looking Backward (November 2007) and Lana Lane's Gemini (November 2006), Red Planet Boulevard (November 2007), Best of Lana Lane 2000-2008, released in November, 2008, and Lana Lane's epic masterpiece, El Dorado Hotel released in 2012.
In 2007, Erik joined ASIA featuring John Payne, the latest incarnation of the classic supergroup, as the band's keyboardist. He has toured extensively with the group since 2008 and is working on new studio recordings including the band's first original single, "Seasons Will Change" co-written by Erik and released in late 2012. In 2009-2011, Erik also toured in Europe, South America and the USA with another supergroup, BIG NOIZE, featuring hard rock all stars, Joe Lynn Turner, Vinny Appice, Phil Soussan, Carlos Cavazo and Simon Wright. Erik also works extensively with THE BOB MOOG FOUNDATION and performed a 2009 concert along with Keith Emerson to open "The Legacy of Moog" exhibit at The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, California, and the epic "Moogus Operandi" concert in Asheville, North Carolina in 2010.
Erik Norlander has been featured in the February 2013, October 2009 and September 2006 issues of KEYBOARD magazine in the USA as well as four appearances in the Japanese KEYBOARD magazine along with multiple appearances in BURRN!, STRANGE DAYS, PROGRESSION and ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN magazines. He has been interviewed on numerous radio shows and continues to receive energized reviews in countless publications around the world.
Erik's 6th studio album re-imagining 10 of his favorite instrumental compositions from other projects with Mark Matthews (b), Nick LePar (d), Freddy DeMarco (g), Mitch Perry (g), Mark McCrite (g) and more.
In the spirit of his much acclaimed ROCKET SCIENTISTS - LOOKING BACKWARD multimedia box set comes a new CD releases from symphonic rock keyboard master, Erik Norlander. THE GALACTIC COLLECTIVE is a brand new take on the best of Erik’s vast instrumental compositions written for Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane and his own solo albums over the years. Recorded on an amazing arsenal of classic analog synthesizers (including 6 Moog instruments), Hammond organ and an incredible Steinway model B grand piano at Cleveland Ohio’s prestigious Magnetic North Studio with engineer Chris Keffer and executive producer Dena Henry along with bassist Mark Matthews, drummer Nick LePar and choral vocal sections by Lana Lane and John Payne along with a suite of guest guitarists including John Payne, Mitch Perry, Mark McCrite, Ron Redfield and Freddy DeMarco, Liner notes by Michelle Moog-Koussa, Executive Director of The Bob Moog Foundation. THE GALACTIC COLLECTIVE is a must have for all fans of keyboard - oriented instrumental progressive rock. 10 audiophile tracks including the epic 20-minute suite, "The Dark Water". Total Running Time - 79:02
Erik's 5th studio album, progressive rock covers of Yes, ELP, ELO, Procol Harum, Jethro Tull and King Crimson with Kelly Keeling (v), Don Schiff (b), Mark McCrite (g), Gregg Bissonette (d) and more.
Hommage Symphonique is an album of progressive rock covers recorded by master keyboardist Erik Norlander along with the virtuoso band of Gregg Bissonette (d), Don Schiff (b) and Mark McCrite (g) with Kelly Keeling handling all of the vocal duties. Erik also employed a small ensemble of acoustic instruments featuring Jon Pappenbrook (trumpets flugelhorn), Eric Jorgensen (trombones), Mike Alvarez (cello) and David Schiff (woodwinds). David is the brother of Don Schiff, and in addition to Don's NS/Stick work on the album, he also fills out the acoustic string ensemble with the new Bowed Guitar instrument. Erik's choice of covers reflects his own broad musical taste, performing songs originally recorded by ELP, ELO, Yes, Rick Wakeman, King Crimson, Procol Harum and Jethro Tull and Chuck Mangione. The last artist may sound the most surprising, but Erik's stirring rendition of Mangione's "Children of Sanchez" brings this jazz - fusion classic more into Erik's world of symphonic progressive rock supported by his seasoned and highly versatile band.
Hommage Symphonique follows the already acclaimed 2CD release, Revolution Road, from Erik's band Rocket Scientists. The Rocket Scientists musicians appear throughout the Hommage Symphonique album continuing the artists' collaboration and bringing it to new heights.
Erik's landmark concert in Russia with Lana Lane (v), Kelly Keeling (v,b), Peer Verschuren (g) and Ernst Van Ee (d).
(Los Angeles, 7 June 2006) Master keyboardist and prolific composer Erik Norlander is proud to announce the release of his first DVD documenting his landmark concert in St. Petersburg, Russia. "Erik Norlander and Friends - Live in St. Petersburg" contains 90 minutes of concert material from this spectacular event plus the 45-minute documentary, "The Road to Russia", which tells the story of Erik's three month tour across the USA and Europe leading up to the final concert in St. Petersburg. The documentary contains interviews with Erik and all of the contributing musicians along with additional concert performances from American and European shows. "Erik Norlander and Friends - Live in St. Petersburg" also contains a bonus audio CD with the best tracks from the concert along with two studio tracks including a soaring cover of "From Russia With Love" featuring the iconic vocals of Norlander's wife, Lana Lane.
"Erik Norlander and Friends - Live in St. Petersburg" features the vocals of Lana Lane along with the now familiar voice of Kelly Keeling who appeared previously on Norlander's "Music Machine" (2003) and "Stars Rain Down" (2004) CDs. Keeling also plays bass in the concert ably switching between fretless and fretted basses throughout the show. Joining Norlander, Lana and Keeling on stage are the Dutch musicians Peer Verschuren on guitar and Ernst Van Ee on drums who have been touring together with Norlander and Lane for several years from Europe to Japan. Verschuren and Van Ee have been previously featured on Norlander's "Stars Rain Down" album and also appear on the recent Lana Lane titles, "Lady Macbeth" and "10th Anniversary Concert" (both 2005). Like Kelly Keeling, Peer Verschuren was also a prominent contributor to Norlander's 2003 rock opera, "Music Machine", so it is no surprise that many tracks from this masterwork have found their way into the St. Petersburg concert. The stomping rocker "Beware the Vampires", the anthemic ballad "Fallen", the sprawling space jam "Sky Full of Stars" and the unforgettably melodic "One of the Machines" are standout pieces on the DVD.
"Erik Norlander and Friends - Live in St. Petersburg" also showcases Norlander's uncanny ability for re-interpreting cover songs by his favorite artists. Norlander's version of the Procol Harum classic, "A Salty Dog" moved audiences around the world with the soulful voice of Kelly Keeling delivering the lyrics with power and substance. "A Salty Dog" was brought into the set to follow Norlander's Rocket Scientists standard, "Mariner", which Keeling also takes to new heights with his soaring vocals and fluid fretless bass. Another classic cover featured on the DVD is Norlander's arrangement of "In the Court of the Crimson King" sung with grace and style by Lana Lane as she has done in concert since her "Queen of the Ocean" tour in 1999. In addition to the bow to original prog rockers King Crimson, Norlander also puts in nods to Vivaldi and Grieg as part of the piece. For this DVD, "In the Court of the Crimson King" is taken from the Cal Prog 2004 festival in Whittier, California where Norlander and friends helped to launch the inaugural version of this now established event in the progressive rock community. The final cover song on the DVD is a new studio recording of the James Bond theme, "From Russia With Love", sung by Lana Lane and used as the soundtrack to a video montage of the group's visit to Russia.
As with Norlander's previous DVD effort, the "Lana Lane 10th Anniversary Concert", the "Live in St. Petersburg" DVD is expertly mixed in Dolby Stereo and also in DTS 5.1 Surround to capture all the subtle nuances of the concert experience. The bonus audio CD is packed with 78 minutes of music, the best performances from the St. Petersburg concert plus the studio tracks of "From Russia With Love" and a new version of "Fanfare for Absent Friends" which first appeared on Norlander's 2004 electronic effort, "Seas of Orion". Both tracks feature Ernst Van Ee on drums and Don Schiff on NS/Stick and were recorded especially for this release.
For fans of Erik Norlander, Lana Lane, Rocket Scientists and progressive music in general, "Erik Norlander and Friends - Live in St. Petersburg" is a must - see concert DVD event. Don't miss it!
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Erik's 4th studio album, an electronic music effort recorded for the Quantum Records label in the Netherlands to coincide with Erik's return to the Alfa Centauri Electronic Music Festival.
Master synthesist and composer Erik Norlander makes a triumphant return to his electronic roots with his new instrumental CD entitled Seas of Orion, a six song full-length album of magnificent proportions. From the subtley atmospheric to the sprawlingly epic, Norlander recorded Seas of Orion in the spirit of the electronic greats of the 70s using only synthesizers and percussion -- no guitars, no vocals, no piano, no organ -- in a beautiful melange of electronic soundscapes, kinetic grooves and emotive leads.
Seas of Orion harkens back to Norlander's 1997 debut album, Threshold, which was reissued earlier this year as a 2CD Special Edition via Norlander's Think Tank Media label. And like Threshold, 'Seas of Orion' features percussionist Greg Ellis (Vas, The Matrix films) again delivering his well-known and unique blend of world ethnic percussion and western progressive jazz drumkit rhythms. Ellis is a strong proponent of "organic rhythm" -- rhythms played by humans for humans -- and that propensity comes through loud and clear on Seas of Orion. Another Seas of Orion link to Norlander's Threshold album is the astounding cover art by English science fiction artist Jim Burns. The cover art shows implies a melding of man with machine, a theme that Norlander and Ellis has explored in the past and venture into again with Seas of Orion.
Much of Seas of Orion was composed and performed on Norlander's gargantuan Moog modular synthesizer dubbed by fans as "The Wall of Doom". The label has stuck, and "The Wall of Doom" continues its mission as Norlander's primary instrument. Made up of discrete analog synthesizer modules mostly from April of 1967, the instrument is a real vintage gem and is truly among the first commercial synthesizers ever created. Norlander speaks about The Wall of Doom, "Originally built in 1967, the Moog modular actually pre-dates ME by three months [Norlander was born in July of 1967]. And when you consider that we had not yet put a man on the moon when this instrument was created, it puts quite a historical perspective on the synth." Norlander has toured extensively with The Wall of Doom, carting it across the United States and Europe from 2001 through 2004.
The music of Seas of Orion is progressive, and progressive in Norlander's own highly identifiable style. There are long, sprawling ambient passages, but there is also melody and groove. Norlander aims to keep the melodies memorable but never trite or overtly commercial and to keep the grooves infectious but never mindlessly repetitive or loop-oriented. Songs like "City of Living Machines" may indeed find their way to the club dance floor through their compelling blend of analog synth bass and organic drum and percussion undulation, but it won't be because of any targetted marketing effort. "I've never been particular drawn to dance music", says Norlander. "But occasionally we'll put together a piece that has a sort of club appeal due its rhythmic propulsion -- that's a phenomenon that I do not specifically intend but welcome nevertheless."
Probably the standout piece on Seas of Orion is the 22-minute epic, "Adrift on the Fire Seas of Orion's Shield" -- an awesome sonic event that could have easily come from the chambers of 70s electronic greates such as Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze. Norlander set out to create this piece with great intent. He writes in the album's liner notes "I tried three times to create the piece, and I abandoned all of these efforts. The problem was that I was thinking too much in terms of traditional songwriting." Norlander had a breakthrough the fourth time around when he changed his compositional approach and even his usual recording technique. "I had a breakthrough on the fourth time around when I took a completely different approach. I set up a phalanx of synthesizers in a circle around me, I set up tracks for each one, and I hit record. Many of the sounds were set to drone on without retriggering, by adding, subtracting and modulating these sounds, I was able to create the "living environment" that I was after." The epic journey begins with tension and anticipation, ebbs and flows to and from several climaxes, and finally winds down into a peaceful release when it segues into the next song, "Oasis in Stasis", a lush and moody song built over a cleverly long ostinato pattern, modulated by sequenced analog synthesizers whose envelopes and filters are constantly moving under the hands of Norlander's real-time performance.
The album ends with a wonderful cover of a classic electronic piece, the "Hymne" from Vangelis' 'Opera Sauvage'. Beautiful and triumphant, the melody of "Hymne" holds a special place in Norlander's heart. "My wife Lana and I were married to this piece" says Norlander. "We used 'Hymne' in lieu of the usual Wedding March." The wedding ceremony was many years ago, but the power of the song remains. It seems only natural that Norlander should offer his interpretation of the piece here on this electronic release.
Another piece worth mentioning is the opener, "Fanfare for Absent Friends", an emotive song that starts with a low, moody drone and builds to a triumphant fanfare played over both martial cadences and speedy rock grooves. Prior to the recording of Seas of Orion, Norlander was contracted to headline the 2004 Alfa Centauri Electronic Music Festival in The Netherlands. Norlander, along with festival organizer Eric Snelders, planned to release 'Seas of Orion' at the festival itself -- combining the album's debut with a sort of live performance release party. The date of the festival had been planned for some time ... September 11, 2004. That fateful date of couse harkens back to the terrible events of 2001 when terrorists attacked New York City and Washington, DC. So when Norlander set about composing the album, he was keenly aware of the date on which it would be released. "I really wanted to do something special to acknowledge this date, and so I composed the album opener, 'Fanfare for Absent Friends' as an homage to those lost. But rather than make it a dark and sad piece, I chose to create a triumphant and uplifiting fanfare to honor the memory of the fallen. It is the lives of these people we should celebrate and remember and not their deaths."
Like all of Norlander's releases, Seas of Orion is masterfully recorded and exquisitely executed. Seas of Orion is Norlander's 5th solo album following closely on the heels of his new live CD, Stars Rain Down, recorded in Europe in 2001 and 2003 and already garnering extensive critical praise from the press and fans alike. Norlander is known for his ability to traverse musical styles with the ease of an accomplished alpine skiier, and this year's releases are perhaps the strongest case for that yet. While it remains a keyboard-oriented album, Stars Rain Down has a decidedly hard rock and almost heavy metal feel to it courtesy of Norlander's magnificent European touring band consisting of traditional rock guitar, bass, drums and aggressive vocals. The release of Seas of Orion goes almost in the complete opposite direction with its pure usage of synthesizers and percussion. The dichotomy is pure Erik Norlander, an artist who continues to deliver the goods with grace, style and integrity.
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