From the band’s website: The album ‘The Old Man and the Spirit’ deals with the polarity of human sensousness and superhuman awareness. The latter is embodied by the character of the Spirit. She is the personification of all wisdom and awareness that is unachievable to mankind, however, lacks of the ability to feel. Her opponent, the character of the Old Man, is presented as a bon vivant who has lived through all highs and lows of human sensation. Steadied by his old age, he searches for a sense, for a coherence, for the meaning of his life in the maelstrom of transciency.
As the story unfolds, the Spirit convinces the Old Man that there is no way for Man to overcome the limits of human perception. They can only be transgressed with the help of the Spirit’s wisdom. Aware of human curiosity, the Spirit offers to answer all of the Old Man’s questions – in exchange for his experiences and feelings. A high price, as they are inseperably connected to the Old Man’s memories.
Listen up folks. Do you like progressive music? Have you ever enjoyed the likes of Dreamtheater? Spock’s Beard? or Porcupine Tree? If you’ve answered yes to any or all of those questions then you should do yourself a favor and with all possible haste snag a copy of Beyond the Bridge’s debut album The Old Man and the Spirit. Hard edged riffs, soaring vocals, intricate keys and complex melodies suffuse this concept album. The tracks range from bombastic over the top operative numbers, groovy chunks to metal, and showtune influenced with a bit of an intimate feel. Solid rock music blended with a taste of Andrew Lloyd Weber.
Beyond the Bridge, originally formed under a different name in 1999 before life got in the way, began reassembling in 2005. A septet of professionally trained musicians, including at least one PhD. student, they began recording The Old Man and the Spirit in 2008. The complete history of the band, and information on its various members, can be found here (and makes for some interesting reading). The dual male and female vocals by Herbie Langhans and Dilenya Mar are clear and haunting beautiful the lyrics easily discernible as the somewhat ambiguous conversation between the titular old man and spirit unfolds over the course of the album. Peter Degenfeld-Schonbur is equally adept and straightforward riffing as he as at the high and might solo while dual keyboard work of Christopher Tarnow and Simon Oberender lend the a lush feel to the album.
The Old Man and the Spirit is one of the first albums in a long time to really get me excited. Stand out tracks for me include the album opener “The Call,” the delicate “World of Wonders,” and the hectic “The Struggle.” An all around phenomenal album that I highly highly recommend.