TPM Top Keys of 2017


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Keyboards are part of me, honestly.  I took several years of lessons, but life has gotten in the way, as usual.  However, I am still attuned to the styles and techniques that I hear in all of these albums I review, and I have definite opinions on what I hear.  Technical playing isn’t necessarily the winner in my eyes, either.  Here are my top 10 favorite keyboard performances of 2017.

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10. Jacob Holm-Lupo and Lars Fredrik Frøislie – White Willow – “Future Hopes”

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White Willow has always featured amazing keyboard-soaked atmospheres.  On the latest album, though, they took this to a whole new level with electronic tone and synthy goodness.  I absolutely love Jacob and Lars’ progression of style.

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9. Trude Eidtang, Christian Paulsen, and Vidar Uthaug – When Mary – “Tainted”

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The entire band offers keys on When Mary’s new album.  Much like the album as a whole, the keys are sweet, catchy, and memorable.

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8. Tore Ylwizaker – Ulver – “The Assassination of Julius Caesar”

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Ulver has changed so much over the years, but I really like the synth-laden atmospheres of their latest album.  Tore lays down some addictive keyboard lines and melodies throughout the whole album, but they come across as mature and classy.

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7. Tree Stewart – The Emerald Dawn – “Visions”

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The Emerald Dawn is obviously made up of fantastic musicians.  Tree Stewart is no different with her jaw-dropping keyboard moments.  I love the way she plays off of Alan’s strong guitar work, too.  Everything is just so inspired in their instrumentals, especially.

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6. Thorsten Quaeschning and Ulrich Schnauss – Tangerine Dream – “Quantum Gate”

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When I think Tangerine Dream, I think about amazing keys.  The newest generation under Thorsten and Ulrich is no different.  The keys and programming are top notch and feature elongated, progressive structures with real pay off.

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5. Marek Arnold, Guy Manning, and Sean Timms – Damanek – “On Track”

 

Marek is one of my favorite keyboardists in any band, and his performances are always amazing.  Joining new band Damanek, he performs alongside Guy and Sean providing keys that are bluesy and beautiful.

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4. Miguel Espinosa – Persefone – “Aathma”

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Miguel added exactly what Persefone needed: a clear and gorgeous sense of melody.  Miguel’s keys are mind-blowingly good at times, adding a layer of spirituality and ethereality to both the music and the concept.

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3. Loki – Nordic Giants – “Amplify Human Vibration”

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The Nordic Giants are pure movement and light musically, and their latest album adds pure power and purpose to that, too.  Loki’s keys are explosive and timed just right to evoke a full emotional response from the listener.

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2. John Young – Lifesigns – “Cardington”

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John’s keys are nearly unmatched in modern prog.  Not only is his chosen tone simply addictive for me, but the grand swaths and burning synth lines are composed masterfully and thoughtfully.

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1. Erlend Aastad Viken – Soup – “Remedies”

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Soup’s music is emotional and grand by nature, and part of that comes from Erlend’s soaring, monolithic keyboard explosions.  Again and again, Erlend blows me away with humongous, towering melodies that absolutely melt my nerves.  His keys are without a doubt my favorite of the year.

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