Skip to main content

Progressive Rock Review: THEO-The Game Of Ourobouros

Release Date: 27thJanuary 2015
Label: Generation Prog Records

Yet again, The Ancient One has been fortunate enough to be asked to review an artist that I would have been unaware of, and Theo, with the release of The Game of Ourobouros is a gem of an album.

The Game of Ourobouros is a solo album by Jim Alfredson, who is best known for his work with the acclaimed jazz trio, Organissimo. A stirring of his affection towards the classic era of prog rock, inspired by the classic artists such as Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, ELP and Genesis, led to this album appearing.

Writing for the album began as far back as 2010, but due to Jims’ heavy touring commitments, the album only saw the light of day earlier this year. Between these dates, Jim had appeared on two releases by the blues artist, Janiva Magness (as well as also touring with her), released two albums as Organissimo and a solo jazz project entitled, Jim Alfredsons’ Dirty Fingers, meaning that time for the solo prog album was stretched out over 3 years.
As is the norm with the majority of solo albums, there are always a few guest musicians who appear on some of the tracks, or a band put together to complete the album and in this case, it was the latter scenario. The band on The Game of Ourobouros comprised Jim Alfredson (keyboards), Gary Davenport (bass), Kevin DePree( drums, percussion) and Jake Reichbart (guitar).

The Game of Ourobouros is a 6 track album with a total playing time of around 57 minutes. Track 3, “Creatures of our Comfort” is the shortest track at 6:51 minutes and the penultimate track, “Idle Worship” is the longest at 13:28 minutes.

The Game of Ourobouros is a concept album based around a “dystopian future where all the identification required is your selfie-chip” and the ongoing ethos that a “passive citizen is a happy citizen.”

The opening, and title track, “The Game of Ourobouros” (9:41) starts with one of those automated voices stating “You have reached… button 1” and so on, ending with the infuriating “I’m sorry, all our service representatives are busy at this time.” At this point the real music kicks in with chunky guitar and some sublime piano. When the vocals enter, my mind whispered quietly, Steely Dan, mainly due to the effortless vocals being produced together with the laid back melody. There then follows a tremendous passage with interactions swinging from keyboards to guitar, to vocal breaks and then back. Around the 5:30 minute point, the sound drops away and a solo synth introduces more stunning piano work. The sound then builds with drums, bass and synths before the vocal reappears, but this time in a more formalized spoken form as the acoustic guitar also briefly appears. At the 7:45 minute mark, the band burst back into life and the guitar just flies. The keyboards then take front of stage and the track heads towards its finale. This is an excellent opening track that ends with the automated voice stating “thank you for your continued patience” as the track segues into track 2.

“The Blood That Floats My Throne” (8:18) enters with the voice informing us that “a passive citizen is a happy citizen” and a synth background. Another synth appears and floats over the top, then disappears, before returning to herald the entry of the vocals with some very fine percussion also adding to the soundscape. The slight echo on the voice and some bits of double tracking lead into more of that chunky guitar style and the starting synth theme is always there or thereabouts. Jim lets his keyboards soar around the 4 minute mark and then there is a stripping back of sound with a gentler keyboard passage. The 5:30 minute mark sees the band begin building the intensity level up and this leads into another keyboard passage prior to more of the excellent guitar work. The original synth theme returns to take the track out as the automated voice again imparts more info.

The opening two tracks bring to mind the albums by Hibernal, both of which I have reviewed, mainly due to the overall feel of the music and the use of synthesized vocals to set scenes. Although there is a similar feel to both Theo and Hibernal, both are unique in the way the concepts are expressed.

“These Are Simple days” (8:05) has an excellent piano intro leading to a simple fusion on piano and vocals. This is a beautifully gentle piece added to around the 1:30 minute point by the rest of the band and some vocal harmonizing. There is a slight increase in the intensity of the sound and then we are suddenly back to simple piano. Add in bass, acoustic guitar and then the drums to start to push the song along. At around 4:20 minute, there is a stunning synth passage from Jim which grows and grows. A simple guitar passage takes over around a minute later and the guitar and piano build together before gently fading away. After a few seconds silence, the starting passage reappears and the track eases its way to the exit.

The Game Of Ourobouros is an excellent release, and while the “main man” for the project Theo is a keyboardist, there is no keyboard overload. Throughout the album, the interaction of the keyboards by Jim and the guitar of Jake is something to marvel at. This is an album to give a few listens before it finally “hits” you, but at that point you will sense the urge to purchase a copy. Go get it.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: The Game Of Ourobouros, The Blood That Floats My Throne, These Are The Simple Days

The Game Of Ourobouros
The Blood That Floats My Throne
Creatures Of Our Comfort
These Are The Simple Days
Idle Worship

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

April 14, 2015

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk


Popular posts from this blog

New Age Instrumental Review: Anaya Music-AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music)

Release Date: February 2, 2018 Label: Anaya Music Website
Around this time a year ago I had the experience of listening to Anaya Music and providing coverage of Eternity.  It was an uplifting experience and a memorable listen as I recall.
Now with February drawing closer AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music) will arrive.
Once again, the recording features several exceptional collaborations between Anaya Music and a live virtual symphony orchestra recorded in the heart of Prague, the capital of the Czech republic. The orchestra combines members of the finest ensembles in Prague, including the Czech Philharmonic.
I think they should rename the orchestra to “The Live Spiritual Orchestra.” If you have been exposed to Anaya Music you will understand what that means. If this is your first journey with this music you will find out very quickly. Either way, this is spiritually uplifting music that leaves a smile on your soul. It’s like the term digital footprint, there is an everlasting m…

British Post-Punk Veterans 1919 Return With A Brand New Masterpiece Of Darkly Melodic Goth Rock, FUTURECIDE!

Los Angeles, CA - Like the mythic phoenix rising from the ashes, British post-punk band 1919 have gone through Hell and back over the course of their harrowing career, but they keep returning stronger than ever! Founded in 1980, the band released its debut album Machine in 1983 and one EP a year later before calling it quits. However, the band reformed in 2014 to great acclaim, performing numerous tours and at festivals across Europe. Then, tragedy struck as the band’s founding guitarist Mark Tighe was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and succumbed to the disease in January 2017. Tighe insisted that the band should carry on without him, which they have done in finest form with their newest effort Futurecide. The album, which will be officially released on April 12 via Cleopatra Records, features brand new compositions and includes special guest performances by Tighe as well as former member Steve Madden, who also passed away this year. The first single, “Anxiety,” was released at the en…

Concert Review: Ghost At The Palace Theater Albany NY

Ghost At The Palace Theater Albany NY December 13, 2018

With winter upon us in the great Northeast, it was just another night. We never have a reason to stay in because of the weather, we just go. It so happened that it was a nice evening for a drive to a Ghost concert.We secured our tickets months ago and have been anticipating this night for months on end.
Last July I attended a “bucket list” concert, the great Iron Maiden was coming to Mansfield, MA. Opening for them was Ghost. This was a turn of a friendly card for the band, a great way to get worldwide exposure otherwise not afforded by a lesser band. They were already on the rise and the lead singer Papa Emeritus had a helluva a band (no pun intended there). At that time my prediction was that when the new year began Ghost would be headlining their own shows. So, then it happened, here we are tonight watching this incredible metal band headlining their own show, with no opener may I add.
For those of you unf…