Starglow Energy

Gate to Celdan

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    5
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AllMusic Review by

You have to give Starglow Energy credit: when they do something, they do it up big. Hence, they release Gate to Celdan, an album that's beautifully packaged in a digipack CD case which opens like a gate to reveal the bandmembers floating on a fantastical, colorful panorama of eddying space, and decked out in various fashions -- tight polyester trousers, pioneer shirts, fur jackets -- rescued from the '70s. The plots of the album's songs are encapsulated on the inside cover as well, and listeners soon come to find that these are steps along a journey toward something known as "the colourworld," or Celdan, to which Starglow Energy plans to direct their listeners. Celdan, they say, is an enchanted country where all colors come from, and one can only find his or her way there by surrendering to the appropriate music, which in turn, will conjure a corresponding spell. One is left to assume that Starglow Energy means to provide that magical soundtrack. Along the way, listeners come into contact with trolls that arise out of the ground ("Dance of the Trolls,") a time traveler, and magicians who are just now regaining the powers that they lost when technology initially took over ("Vengeance"). There's also every variety of pixie-ish dancers and a rainbow ("Fly Into the Rainbow"). If it all sounds incredibly twee and pretentious, it is; if it sounds like the hallmark of European progressive rock, that too is correct. Starglow Energy obviously dig '70s prog-rock because Gate to Celdan is strictly stuck in that decade. Unfortunately, the album does not really even qualify as a successful or satisfying retro listen because it is mostly far less distinctive than the better bands from whom it generously borrows. The band lacks a dynamic vocalist, and the music simply does not, for the most part, match the concept set forth. There is nothing particularly colorful about the conventional guitar-bass-drums-Hammond organ mix, and the music does not invoke the storyline in any salient manner. It takes until the fifth or sixth song before Starglow Energy begins cooking musically. "Vengeance" is packed with excellent time and texture changes, and the larger role given to the mini-Moog synthesizer greatly increases the sonic palette. However, by the time the 17½-minute magnum opus "Celdan" begins playing, it's difficult to remember why reaching the "colourworld" was such a desired goal in the first place.