Flight of Fancy
X-PANDA

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X-PANDA - Flight of Fancy cover
4.00 | 7 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 2011

Filed under Progressive Metal

Tracklist

1. Intro (0:49)
2. Black (11:00)
3. Dickybirds (7:01)
4. Flight of Fancy (7.04)
5. Siren (4:22)
6. Journey of a Dream (11:06)
7. Keyboard Solo (3:20)
8. Rhythm Department (5:58)
9. Calm Waters (4:17)
10. Crystal Gazing (8:16)
11. Revelation (6:24)

Line-up/Musicians

- Kaarel Tamra / keyboards
- Risto Virkhausen / guitars
- Tamar Nugis / bass and vocals
- Karl-Juhan Laanesaar / drums

About this release

Independent Digital 2011

Buy at: www.cdbaby.com/cd/xpanda

Thanks to andyman1125 for the addition

X-PANDA MP3, Free Download/Stream

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X-PANDA FLIGHT OF FANCY reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

progshine
It’s not easy, oh it’s not, when you live most part of your life in only one country. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when it comes to knowing where places are and understanding the different cultures, it’s complicated.

It’s easy for most of us being familiar with USA, England, Italy or even Brazil, the place I was born.

So when you find out that some band comes from.. Estonia, well, you really can’t imagine what kind of music it will be. When you discover that they play Progressive Metal/Progressive Rock, it really comes as a shock, initially. Not because of any prejudice, but because you never imagine such places to have any different music and only because… you’ve never heard of any band or just a couple of bands that come from that place.

Now that I’ve explained this little thing, I just need to say that it doesn’t matter from where X-PANDA came. The things that matters is when Flight Of Fancy (2011) starts is how good it is. And it is!

The little ‘Intro’ comes most as some piece of sound to deliver the first real song ‘Black’ that starts when we think, well, another Progressive Metal band. But that’s a mistake. X-PANDA mix more than only that, they deliver a sound full of details where orchestral parts and very good keyboard driven layers by Kaarel Tamra are really important, maybe the one thing that keeps us with Progressive Metal in our heads are the guitars parts from Risto Virkhausen, that most of the times play heavy syncopated riffs, but he also plays alot in the ‘solo’ field, where the guitar is soloing most of the time with nice melodies. So, no, I don’t count X-PANDA as a Progressive Metal band in the end.

One nice thing about Flight Of Fancy (2011) is that every track has a little text that explains a bit of every song before going into each lyrics. I just love that kind of stuff and very few albums have that in their booklets.

Most of the album is instrumental, they’re all great, a big mix of this guys’ influences, but with personality, but I really would like to have more vocals, Tamar Nugis (he’s also the bass player) has a very good voice and ‘Black’, ‘Siren’ and ‘Revelation’ prove that.

A very solid first album with a great psychedelic cover and an amazing production, Karl-Juhan Laanesaar drums sound like real drums, which is a problem for me in the big majority of new albums. My only complain is the lenght of the album, in my opinion almost 70 minutes is a bit too much.

I highly recommend the record and if you’re not sure yet jump on their Bandcamp page and check out 2 tracks of the album http://x-panda.bandcamp.com/album/flight-of-fancy.

On top of all that? The band is working on their second album that will be released around mid 2013.
Conor Fynes
'Flight Of Fancy' - X-Panda (7/10)

X-Panda is a new band from Estonia that largely represents everything that is great, and everything not-so-great about the current state of progressive metal. Although many of these potential up-and-comers have Dream Theater calibre skills, the similarities with Dream Theater do not tend to end there, with many bands coming off as copycats. One could never accuse X-Panda of being poor musicians or even composers, yet despite this set-up for brilliance, they possess an utter lack of originality that confirms many of my doubts surrounding this scene in progressive music.

With that having been said, I cannot deny that X-Panda are a fantastic ensemble of some of the most promising new musicians I have heard in the past year, speaking in regards to their skill, of course. On the prog metal spectrum, X-Panda lean towards a melodic and even catchy sound for the genre, using many of Dream Theater's typical tricks, but framing them within a song structure that embraces hooks. It should also be mentioned that X-Panda are a largely instrumental act, with bassist Tamar Nugis only singing for a few less involving pieces that may have felt empty otherwise. The instrumental format was an excellent choice for X-Panda, and while their songwriting is accessible enough to incorporate a voice without it feeling too crowded, the choice to go without puts a greater focus on the skills and details of the musicianship. X-Panda are certainly not in the golden books for originality, but choosing to convey the melodies through guitar make 'Flight Of Fancy' feel a little different than the typical prog-power metal bands that pop up eight days a week.

Although each musician and instrument contributes an important part to the sound, the guitar work of Risto Virkhausen is my favourite thing about X-Panda. Although he sounds a little close in sound to Dream Theater's John Petrucci, he is able to go from highly technical displays, to emotional leads and catchy hooks, often without the frame of one song. I would have no problem calling him one of the best new guitarists out there, had he and the rest of X-Panda not sounded as if they were not so blatantly copying the sound of one particular band. Now, very few bands ever find a sound that is entirely their own, but to my chagrin, there were elements across the board throughout X-Panda's sound that I felt as if I could trace back to some point in Dream Theater's career; be it a guitar tone, a odd-time riff, the way the solos are structured, and so forth. At worst, it is unintentional plagiarism, but X- Panda is only one of many bands within progressive metal that look to Dream Theater for a template. Although it keeps 'Flight of Fancy' from receiving a full-fledged recommendation, the talent and skill here go without question, and the use of beautiful melodies and hooks makes X-Panda's debut something of a winner in the modern prog metal canon.
Phonebook Eater
7/10

“Flight Of Fancy” promises great, adventurous things for X-Panda.

X-Panda are an Estonian (!) Progressive Metal band that apparently have come out of nowhere with their debut “Flight Of Fancy” released in a year where there is room for many great albums in the music scene. This debut is a huge surprise, an extremely fresh, original and brave work by young, extremely talented and well educated musicians. Together, they create something that is not really an album, but a massive and solemn promise that they’ll be the rulers of the Prog Metal scene in no time.

Is Progressive Metal a word that is starting to get less clear? Maybe it’s simply expanding: here, the second option is what I like to believe X-Panda wants to do with the genre. What this band did with this album shows the great talent that underdog countries such as Estonia can have. It is great to hear hidden talents slowly coming towards the open, towards the outer world. There is only to thank X-Panda, for reminding us what Progressive Metal should mean, which is variation, progression, and experimentation, but also change. The reason why Prog Metal is getting less clear is because of bands such as these, that are able to expand the term, and still being able to remain in that box.

Their music is strongly influenced by Jazz Fusion, it is in fact largely instrumental, to the point where it’s almost more of a Jazz effort, because of song structures that imply it clearly. To mind, Haken seemed a sort of influence for this band, because of their wide eclecticism in keyboard sounds, something that is heard abundantly in the landmark album “Aquarius”. Despite the pretty wide experimentation, jazziness and progressiveness, there is no denying that the melodies are strong in each one of these tracks, another reason why Haken comes to mind: the songwriting can be quite catchy at times, when it’s not focusing on constant melody changing, like in most of the album. As a matter of fact, these songs are best described as shapeshifters: they constantly change form, constant time changes, constant melody changes. This chameleonic piece of music can, let’s admit it, go a little too far over, to the point where after about an hour the listen get’s somewhat tiring. There is musically tons of variation, but in a way, I feel like I’m listening to basically the same track over and over again. Exceptions be made for some that just don’t have the same nature of the rest of the songs.

The album, despite not being the most solid thing out there, has moments that were almost shockingly huge standouts, not only for 2011 tracks but for Prog Metal tracks in general: the song that captures the most of what I just said is the wonderful, extremely touching title-track, a great seven minute trip that contains some of the most touching moments you’ll ever hear from this genre. Songs like the eleven minute “Black” or “Dickybirds: use sort of the same kind of songwriting, with always a very highlighted musicianship. The few sung songs are really good too, especially the dark tones of “Siren” or even the quieter segments of “Black”. “Journey” Of A Dream”’s more melodic moments are indeed a great treat for the listener, but the eleven minutes could get tedious for some. The second part of the album I can’t help to find it a bit weaker, however the shiny moments are more than a few, like in “Rhythm Department” or “Crystal Gazing”.

A unique and brave album that gives great hope and ambition for this band, that hopefully will rise up to become what they deserve to be. A really enjoying experience that will leave pleased any Prog Metal fan.
J-Man
X-Panda is an interestingly named progressive metal act from Estonia, and Flight of Fancy is their impressive entrance into the scene. This mostly-instrumental debut showcases a talented young band with a unique sound, as well as a strong ability to write memorable and captivating compositions. Flight of Fancy is a truly remarkable musical experience - although many new progressive metal bands tend to derive too much from Dream Theater and the like, X-Panda truly has something unique to offer with this debut effort. All in all, Flight of Fancy is a highly successful mix of progressive rock, jazz, and metal; fans of those genres should definitely give these guys a shot.

Flight of Fancy does contain a handful of vocal sections, but most of its seventy-minute duration is entirely instrumental. Unlike most instrumental prog metal, however, there's a very strong sense of melody and harmony in every single one of the compositions. X-Panda is not afraid to show off their stunning technical capabilities as musicians, but none of the compositions ever seem like a mere vehicle for soloing. Though the musicianship and production shine throughout all of Flight of Fancy, I'd argue that the album's strongest asset lies in the deep and intricate songwriting. The album is pretty long (clocking in at nearly seventy minutes), but it doesn't ever seem to drag on too much. X-Panda's fascinating blend of jazz, prog, and metal is instantly captivating; once you factor in the top-notch musicianship and excellent compositions, it's clear that we're dealing with a truly remarkable observation.

This young Estonian band made one hell of an entrance with Flight of Fancy, and I can safely regard X-Panda as one of the most promising acts on the scene today. Fans of progressive metal and jazz fusion with a unique twist should be sure to check out this impressive debut - this is one of 2011's more memorable albums for sure. 4 stars and a very warm recommendation are deserved. Let's hope to hear more from X-Panda in the coming years!
Andyman1125
The flight of a lifetime

X-Panda is a very new band to emerge on to the already crowded progressive metal scene. Hailing from Estonia, a country not necessarily synonymous with metal or prog, the band seems to have declared their duty to forge their own path in the music world. Armed with professional music education and the drive to make some of the most well-crafted prog metal on this side of the multiverse, the band certainly has made quite a hit with their debut full length album Flight of Fancy. As jazz fans as well as metal fans, the band has encapsulated a love of melody within a love of technicality and metal. The glorious 70 minute album is comprised of eleven (or more accurately ten, not counting the intro) contains easily some of the best prog metal released in many years, with the mostly instrumental music reaching sonic heights not often reached by even the more established bands. The melodically dense music sends the listener on a fantastic journey, which is a feat for any band, never mind a young, yet-unestablished band. X-Panda seems to know what they’re doing and yet they’ve just begun.

It’s not often that I’ll find a metal album that has a heavier (excuse the pun) emphasis on melody than it does on the “metal” aspect of the music, that is the crunching riffs, intense atmosphere, hard-hitting drumming, etcetera. X-Panda seems to have the “lighter” route, with songs noodling around delicate lines of melody and wonderfully orchestrated harmonic sections between the four instrumentalists. I really love how the drums work equally with the guitar, bass, and keyboards as a definite aspect of the music, weaving in and out of melodically-based rhythms and, as noted in the liner notes, Gavin Harrison-esque “rhythmic illusions,” with sections seemingly in 4/4 actually being in triplet form of 12/8, polyrhythms of 7/8 feeling like perfect 4/4 until the perfect “unsynchronized” moment, and so on. While of course there were sections of the album where riffs dominated the music, these tend to not only be the weaker points of album but are also quite scarce across the entire play time.

Easily the best quality of the entire album is the joyful and ethereal quality the solos and melody take on in their context in the songs. Especially on the songs “Dickybirds” and the title track, the melody seems to become alive within the song, exploring new sonic depths not only due to the clean and well-done production, but because of their very nature of pure music. In the context of jazz-fusion tinged prog metal, such a style, especially on the piano, truly shines through and makes the album that much brighter.

In the end, X-Panda’s debut album Flight of Fancy will easily go down as one of the better prog metal releases of the decade. Although through 70 minutes the songs begin to seem to blend into one near indistinguishable song (with obvious reprieves of memorable and distinct tracks), the album still holds its own right as a wonderful melodic journey. Of course the obvious influences can be derived from the music, with guitar solo structures and arrangements often having strong similarities to one Mr. John Petrucci and other typical progressive metal influences. However, these barely hinder the fact that the band has compiled a truly wonderful collection of ten (full length) songs for the listener’s enjoyment - and enjoy it I did. 4 stars.

Members reviews

McMuffin999
revelation...

Flight of Fancy 10/10

In search of some prog metal that wasnt a Dream Theater clone, i wouldve never believed that a group as technical, proficient and unique as X-Panda would originate such masterpiece as a debut. It is certainly among the best albums ive ever heard, regardless if its prog metal or not. It is certainly a laid-back and relaxed release, think of it as the perfect mix between liquid tension experiment, planet x, and symphony x. It is certainly on a league of its own, and these guys managed to pull off an album that is easy to listen but is also quick to adhere to your senses. It definately grows on you at the moment you press play. All of the songs are different from each other: black is a strong yet controlled prog metal fest; dickybirds and flight of fancy are extremely well crafted songs with a very melodic presence; siren reminds me of "extension of the wish" by Andromeda (i also strongly recomend that album) and it is very catchy; journey of a dream is an adventure that cannot be put into words, it just makes you escape into a musical realm possible only in dreams, truly a one-of-a-kind track; keyboard solo is a continuation of journey, and it concludes such passage with passion and awesome musicality from keyboardist kaarel tamra; rhythm department is pure melodic mayhem, opposite as the title might suggest; calm waters really does calm the landscape portrayed by the previous track and it is among my favorites from the record; crystal gazing is an awesome track where the guitar and drums shine and it should be noted that none of the members of X-Panda try to steal the show at any time in the album, they all wirk together to create the best music as possible, like a REAL band; and the album finishes strong with revelation, my personal favorite, a very symphonic and powerful track, and the violin solo just took my breath away.

In conclusion, Flight of Fancy is a unique experience that is up to par with other heavyweight prog metal releases this year such as Dream Theater, Symphony X, Arch/Matheos, Anubis Gate, you name it.

If you think you've heard all the prog metal you'll ever need well think again, because X-Panda is here to stay!!

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