Bo Hansson

Magician's Hat

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Hansson's second album is more jazz-tinged and less successful than his first, being more diffuse and lacking some of the energy of Lord of the Rings. Still, there is a compelling power to some of this music, as his organ, guitar, and synthesizer alternately move out in front -- think of a space-rock version of Jimmy Smith or early Herbie Hancock. "Big City" (extended) is lively and engaging, which is a fairly notable accomplishment for an 11-minute opening track, and the rest is more manageable, though none of it seems overly inventive. "Divided Reality" opens up with a densely strummed acoustic guitar that threatens to turn into a remake of "Nights in White Satin" until the tempo changes, and instead we get a minute of fascinating progressive guitar noodling in the best Peter Banks/Steve Howe tradition, followed by an organ cadenza that Ray Manzarek or Tony Kaye might've approved of. Fans of the second and third incarnations of King Crimson (Lizard, Islands, Earthbound) may enjoy this recording with its prominent saxophone and flute backing, not to mention Kenny HÃ¥kansson's heavily wah-wahed guitar.

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