Todd Rundgren & Utopia / Todd Rundgren / Utopia

Todd Rundgren's Utopia

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For much of the double-album Todd, Todd Rundgren was exploring weird instrumental avenues, creating a warped, synth-fueled variation of prog rock. This wasn't the culmination of the weirdness A Wizard, A True Star initiated -- it was merely the beginning. Not long after completing Todd, Rundgren assembled Utopia, a prog rock group with no less than three synth players, plus guitar, bass and drums. Ostensibly, the band was a collective effort, with Rundgren contributing no more than the remaining quintet, but the possessive nature of the title of their debut, Todd Rundgren's Utopia, illustrates who the driving force of the group was. And it is true that TR's Utopia picks up where Todd left off, expanding the already lengthy experimental instrumentals by adding layers of synthesizers that stretch on forever -- which is no exaggeration, since only one track ("Freedom Fighters") is single-length, with the remaining three cuts clocking in between ten and thirty minutes. For anyone who isn't a dedicated fan, slogging through these seemingly endless prog excursions is a little tedious, and even the devoted may find that these roads, while occasionally interesting, don't necessarily lead anywhere.

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