A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Who Do You Think RPWL Are?

Lost in all the noise that is the music business, is a German neo progressive rock band called RPWL. They started of their career as a Pink Floyd cover band.

That is how all bands start off. Playing the songs of our favourites. Eventually, they started to create their own music, heavily influenced by the music they covered. Singer, Yogi Lange has the Gilmour tone to his voice and guitarist Karl Heinz Wallner gets very close to Gilmour’s signature sound.

However, the RPWL story didn’t start in 1997. It goes back to 1992 and a band called Violet District. On their debut and only album, “Terminal Breath”, Pink Floyd influences abound, however the influence of Marillion is more predominant. The nucleus of Violet District are the talents of Karl-Heinz Wallner, Chris Postl and Yogi Lang who of course went on to become members of RPWL. So from the ashes of Violet District, RPWL is born. Like Bon Scott said, it is a long way to the top if you want to prog and roll.

God Has Failed (2000)

This album should have done better in recognition. The world needed some Pink Floyd, and while the original band was on hiatus, RPWL stepped up to fill the void. Remember the catchy cry; progress is derivative. RPWL’s “God Has Failed” is Pink Floyds “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason Pt. 2”. Tempus Fugit the record label said that with the release of the RPWL debut album, it was their first album that made some money in sales and it gave the label the chance to invest the profits in other artists.

This album got the band labelled as Pink Floyd clones, much the same way Kingdom Come was labelled Led Zeppelin clones after their debut. The difference between the two in sales is staggering, as Kingdom Come went on a multi-platinum victory lap and RPWL didn’t.

This is RPWL raw and showing the world their influences. If you don’t like it I don’t care. If you don’t know it, you should.

“Who Do You Think We Are”
Great title to sum up the band, and I believe the song also sums up the musical style of the album. This is The Beatles crossed with Pink Floyd. The Beatles are a big influence that went largely unnoticed when this album came out. George Harrison could have written this track. It is a pop song with a progressive chorus.

Who do you think we are
There’s nothing left
But the shades of our past

When you reach that point in a relationship or a friendship and each side has gone in different directions. Where do we stand at this point in time? How do we fit in each other’s lives right now? When you can’t find the answer, the only thing left is the past.

We both know the sun will rise again
We both thought that it will never end
But somewhere deep inside
Life as got a bitter taste
When not a single friend is here to stay

Isn’t that always the case. When a break up happens, either in a relationship or a friendship, people take sides. There is always one that will be left all alone.

“In Your Dreams”
This follows on with The Beatles meets Pink Floyd theme set in “Who Do You Think We Are”. It’s the seventies merged with the eighties in the Year 2000. Think of the song “Sorrow” from “A Momentary Lapse of Reason”. The song has those moments of recognition, however as the track goes on, it becomes its own track and it evolves into the heaviest bit of the album.

Tell me what do you feel
When you die in your dreams

Who hasn’t woken up from a dream state, with that terrible sinking feeling. You have just dreamt your death, and that sick feeling lingers.

“Farewell”
It should have been the closer on the album. If anything the album is just a tad too long. 45 minutes would be sufficient, however RPWL released 71 minutes worth of music. It looks like they couldn’t part with some of the material. In this song, I am hearing King Crimson influence’s merged with Pink Floyd.

Remember all the time when life
Was only china in our hands

What a way to sum up how fragile life is, by comparing it to valuable china plates. You know, those plates that your parents bring out on special occasions to serve dinner when people are around. Then they are hand washed carefully, and dried in a safe place, so that the gold edge doesn’t get damaged.

When the Master calls
Don’t be afraid to say Farewell

In the end when the maker calls, the negotiations are over. It doesn’t matter how much you argue and try to buy more time, the end is the end. Death is just a transition.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Learning To Live – Dream Theater – Classic Song To Be Re-Discovered

It’s the music that makes Learning To Live a classic.

If I had to recommend one song to a new Dream Theater fan that typified the progressive rock leanings of the band, then that song would be Learning To Live. Learning To Live was released on the 1992, Images and Words album. The song is that good, that Dream Theater even rewrote it and called it Breaking All Illusions. That version was released on A Dramatic Turn of Events in 2011.

The Kevin Moore keyboard intro kicks things off with a wicked 15/8 time signature. This same passage re-appears and this time it is played over alternating time signatures, starting off with 14/8 for 2 bars, then 13/8 for one bar and back to 14/8 for another bar. Then it goes back to 13/8, 14/8, 13/8, 7/8.

In between you get a very metal like passage in the vein of Immigrant Song from Led Zeppelin, that moves between 7/4,6/4,4/4 and 5/8 time signatures over F#m, C#m and Em root notes. It doesn’t sound forced. It is very fluent like.

The verse is unbelievable. Myung holds it all together with an unbelievable groove over a 7/4 and 6/4 time signature, that is supplemented by Kevin Moore’s choir like voicing’s outlining the Em9, Cmaj9, Amadd9 and Em9 chords. Myung paraphrases the novel Atlas Shrugged from Ayn Rand.

There was no time for pain, no energy for anger
The sightlessness of hatred slips away
Walking through winter streets alone, He stops and take a breath
With confidence and self-control

I look at the world and see no understanding
I’m waiting to find some sense of strength
I’m begging you from the bottom of my heart to show me understanding

Petrucci and Portnoy build the song nicely into the chorus. Petrucci begins with normal volume swells, while Portnoy locks in with Myung. As Petrucci’s guitar gets busier with harmonics, chords and arpeggios, Portnoy’s drumming becomes busier.

The second verse has an unbelievable progressive groove that keeps within the 7/4 and 6/4 time signature of the first verse. This time it’s all power chords and its heavy as hell. Chugging along on an E5 power cord, Petrucci enhances the riffs by chucking in B5, Bflat5 and F power chords, utilising the devil triton to maximum effect.

The 90s bring new questions
New solutions to be found
I fell in love to be let down

Then when you think they are going to go into the Chorus again, they go into a bridge part with a simple 4/4 groove and then the instrumental break starts. Petrucci is now playing what Moore played in the intro.

The flamenco passage at 5.30 kicks things off. From 6.30 it gets progressive and then the woo ohh ohhs kick in and Petrucci takes over at 7.10 in one of the most heartfelt solos Petrucci has laid to tape. Those bends remind me of Dave Gilmour in Comfortably Numb.

The whole Wait For Sleep segment that begins at 7.30 and ends at 9.35 includes brilliant jazz bluesy solos from both Moore and Petrucci and the main piano riff from Wait For Sleep. It then segues back in to the Chorus.

The way that your heart beats
Makes all the difference in learning to live

Just when you think the song is over, the outro kicks in, again led by an unbelievably groovy and very funky Myung bass line. Then Petrucci joins in with the Natural Harmonics and then the monk style voices take over. As a listener I just sit back with the head phones and allow myself to be taken away. A brilliant song and a brilliant piece of work.

Mike Portnoy has gone on record saying how much he hated working with the producer David Prater and the use of drum midi triggers. Portnoy feared that the triggers would make the album sound dated and seen as another generic hard rock album.

One thing is certain. The album still sounds fresh and current in 2013 as it did back in 1992. As Rush’s 2112 laid the groundwork for what was to come for Rush, Images and Words did the same for Dream Theater.

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