One man, Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Mattis Sørum, is behind this project started in 2003, bringing to his aid (much like Ayreon) musicians and vocalists (four on this album) to play and sing on his albums. Mattis plays the synths, organ and guitars on the albums.
This 2009 release, is Pictorial Wand's second album and a concept one as well, after his 2006 debut, A Sleeper`s Awakening , which was a double album that was made while Mattis was a music student in Trondheim. It was there he found the seventeen musicians to help him create his vision and it took three years to make.
This current album is released through Unicorm Digital, a Canadian based label that released superb albums from progressive bands like Karcius (who I featured before), Hamadryad, Mystery, Jellyfiche, Capharnaum, The Gourishankar, Karfagen, Nil (featured previously), Nathan Mahl (featured previously), Sympozion and many others; so Pictorial Wand are in a very good company.
The music is very emotional; it manages to convey very well a mournful spirit, a sense of torment and regret. The dynamic range is wide, as the music ranges from calm and serene landscapes to troubled waters where a heavier approach reigns, and where the music acquires a metal sound as well up until the emotional peaks of a song like Circle’s End.
The four vocalists also add to the richness and dynamics of the music and their voices very well match the vibe of the album and the feelings throughout.
The musical style and sound seems to be influenced by Pain Of Salvation (for example in The Wasteland) and also to Ayreon (for example in The Ghosts Start Dancing).
Personally it took me some time to get into this album. Though it is accessible, melodic and beautiful, I needed some time for it to properly click and get into the particular sound that’s presented here. And it did after four or five listening “sessions”. The similarities to the aforementioned bands was serving as a kind of hook but I think that with further releases Mattis will find a more unique sound, which I would welcome. The song, Face Of Our Fathers for instance, very much sound like Pain Of Salvation to me (era The Perfect Element 1).
However, even considering this resemblance issue, this is a very well done album, the music is beautiful, there are many hooks and striking melodies, wonderful performances by the vocalists and splendid keyboards work.
What I appreciate mostly about this album, and this is something I look for in all albums, is a special sound-environment; I want the album to introduce me to a different place through the music; I wish for the music to be able to pull me out from where my mind is at present and transport me elsewhere. This is either achieved for example by the melody, by effects in the music, by excellent musicianship or by simply having a special sounding atmosphere achieved through the music. Face Of Our Fathers manages to have this effect on me with several of these above-mentioned ways. I’m highly satisfied with this album and I highly look forward to Mattis’ next album.
Interview with Mattis Sørum:
A song from the album: