THEO is the creation of talented keyboard player Jim Alfredson. His background includes stints in blues and roots band, yet more recently in his jazz ensemble organissimo. His extensive experience revolves around the use of Hammond equipment (including the famous B3), which he started playing at the age of four. The Game of Ouroboros is his foray into melodic progressive rock.
It's a concept album having something to do with a future, all imposing, conglomeration government and, then, how an individual might respond to this power. Musically, the focus, of course, is upon Alfredson's keyboard skills and presentation. In his own words, this was intentional, feeling that much of current progressive rock is too guitar-oriented. (It's not there isn't guitar work here. There's a fine solo within the title cut.) At the core, the songs seem to be piano based with Alfredson indulging himself by adding additional synth/organ layers. This includes using these devices for modest to liberal amounts of sound effects.
The overall feel of the album seems less towards traditional progressive rock, and more towards his recent jazz fusion excursions. I found this mostly within the title song, Idle Worship, and lesser in Exile. Of these three, the title track, The Game of Ouroboros, was the most satisfying of the bunch, nay, the best song on the whole album simply because it was the closet to classic prog rock. Exile only gets the prog rock groove going at the end.
Conversely, Idle Worship, early on, has some of that squirrelly keyboard play that unfortunately reminded me of Captain and Tennille's Muskrat Love. (Hate that song.) Yet, this doesn't last long and the rock-jazz fusion returns in the larger two-thirds of the song. After these things, a large portion of this album, The Blood That Floats My Throne, Creatures of Our Comfort, and These Are The Simple Days, seemed to swell with ambient rock, nearly sleepy and submissive, or largely dull, depending on your perspective. Finally, Alfredson has this subdued and relaxed voice, almost like Michael McDonald on Valium, and so lacking strength and vigor. In the end, with The Game of Ouroboros I believe Alfredson accomplished what he set out to do, build a progressive rock album around his keyboard skills. However, I'm not entirely sure that it's all that interesting or compelling. I'll probably never give another spin.
With The Game of Ouroboros, I believe Alfredson accomplished what he set out to do, build a progressive rock album around his keyboard skills. Yet I'm not entirely sure that it's all that interesting or compelling.
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