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Professor Tip Top – Lanes of Time

Professor Tip Top
Lanes of Time
by Mark Machlay at 17 February 2022, 6:38 AM

Norwegian progressive rock band PROFESSOR TIP TOP have been flying under my musical radar for several years but thankfully I was able to catch them on their most recent full-length album “Lanes of Time” released in the late Fall of 2021 through Apollon Records. The band was formed in Bergen, Norway in 2011 with several members having veteran musical backgrounds going back to the early 1970s. It could explain how the band are able to play top-notch retro sounding progressive music with a psychedelic touch. Their closest contemporaries date back to that time with melodic parts, long guitar-driven instrumental passages and vintage synths and keyboards similar to bands such as YES, PINK FLOYD and KING CRIMSON. When they started out, they self-produced and released their first three albums – “Aoum” in 2012, “Are You Empirical?” also in 2012 and “ExoBiology” in 2016. They then signed with the Norwegian Prog imprint of Appollon Records starting with 2017’s “Life Is No Matter”. They continued with the label through to today and released “Hybrid Hymns” in 2019 and “Tomorrow is Delayed” in 2020.

Continuing with their third straight year of releasing an album a year came their most recent album “Lanes of Time”. The album is their second with German born singer/keyboardist Sonja Otto after long time singer Svein Mangan Hansen departed prior to “Tomorrow is Delayed”. The music continues to be written by main songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sam Fossbakk. Strangely enough, Otto did appear previously on the band’s “Aoum” record in a background vocal capacity but has now taken a confident step into the center stage after her first album in that role for the band. As per usual, their sound is filled out by the ever-present Stein Høgseth on bass and Charles Wise on drums. While the lineup may be different and the overall sonic quality has changed with feminine vocals, the band seem undeterred in releasing quality, airy, yet expansive neo-progressive music that continues to delight with this new album.

The album begins, appropriately enough, with the title track “Lanes of Time”, a calm and lyrical introduction that belies the genius of the intricacies that band can create. The balance of Otto’s feminine vocals with the established sound of Fossbakk’s blends well as if she were the sound they’d looking for since the beginning. There’s a bit a bluesy solo like the ones David Gilmour used to lay down on early Floyd records that soars and adds pleasant color to the track. In fact, there are plenty of nods to Pink Floyd’s particular brand of progressive yet psychedelic space rock especially in the vintage synths. Then there is “Falling into the Sun” next which showcases Otto’s voice more in the forefront and gets slightly heavier with a nice repeating descending then ascending guitar line. By “The Sound of Protonflow” the band gains a bit more structure and organization to their songs but drops the vocals in favor of an instrumental track. Standout track “The Quiet Remians” comes with layered vocals from Otto and lyrics of a Celtic tale, fitting right in with a Renaissance Faire. The spacey “Shining” follows the track with an extremely liberal use of slow blues licks and lots of space typical of David Gilmour once again. Everything seems delicate placed and exquisitely produced making for a very pleasant journey to familiar sounds a past prog rock greatness.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Lanes of Time
2. Falling into the Sun
3. The Sound of Protonflow
4. Isle of Sirens
5. The Quiet Remains
6. Shining
7. Past Forever
8. Shallow Shadow
9. Time is
Lineup:
Sonja Otto – Vocals & Keyboards
Sam Fossbakk – Guitar, Keyboards, Synth, Vocals
Stein Høgseth – Bass
Charles Wise – Drums
Record Label: Apollon Prog Records
     


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