Reviews on
CROSS "Playgrounds"

Cross - "Playgrounds"
"Cross, and especially Hansi Cross is to this reviewer one of Swedens greatest artists. With love & understanding, to Hansi's ability to hang in there, to be true to what he believes in and to prog in general. I cant find one Cross record nor one Progress Record release, that I do not,think the world of.

“Playgrounds” once again set the standard. Majectic, powerful and very melodic prog. Long tracks with emotions, which Cross is known and loved for. Once again Hansi Cross mix it perfectly between his guitar, vocals & the ever present majectic power of luch keyboards. Emotions are important and here they, once again, will make you ever so happy. Hansi Cross’ voice is very strong and emotional. Cross is a very strong outfit, who have made many albums over the years. All with great love to the genre. “Playgrounds” establice Cross as one of Swedens greatest acts. Here you’ll get Cross at the top of there great capability to perform and play with power, many bands could learn from. Olov Andersons keys are once again fantastic. “Playgrounds” is fantastic listening to the first time. After several spins, it’s clear that there is more to it, than that. You’ll find layers of great stuff, once you let your mind decide, to give “Playgrounds” another go."
Rating: 4 (of 5) planets

"Hansi has developed the sound of Cross over the years so that although there are sections that one might say has been influenced by Yes, Genesis, IQ and Jadis this is a band that is developing very much its own sound and must be seen as an important band in their own right.
This is one of the prog albums that is very accessible first time it's played, with lots going on, but the more it is played the more the layers become apparent. The guitar is an important instrument, but in the style of Steve Hackett opposed to crunching riffs. Harmony vocals and well-structured songs make this a joy to listen to, and any fan of intricate prog will enjoy this."

"Very highly recommended"

"It is obvious that the new album is made in the same style as the last couple of Cross albums. This means that we can hear no weak tracks on "Playgrounds". Everything is of a very high level and that's just how it has to be, quality prog of a very high standard. The only negative remark that I can mention is the keyboard sound they used on two tracks ("A New Beginning" and "Mesmerizing Enterprise"). It is the same sound, which they used on the Spektrum album. Listen to the intro of "Now" and you know what I mean. But it will certainly not change my verdict. "Playgrounds" is a very, very, very strong album. Almost a five stars record! Certainly one of the best releases of 2004 so far."
Rating: ****+

"As with 2000's Secrets, the highlight is the musicianship, which is of a classic modern progressive rock mould, with beautifully expressive guitars (Hansi Cross), shimmering percussion (Tomas Hjort and Cross), throbbing bass lines (Lollo Andersson), and beds of keyboards (Olov Andersson (Spektrum, Grand Stand and Cross). On the whole, Playgrounds is very good release, with a great sound (especially, for me, Cross' guitar playing). It's stronger in the instrumental passages, which make it an album to not overlook."
RATING: 4,5 of 5

Swedish 'Cross', a symphonic project from Hansi Cross, has produced through the years a respectable discography. But unlike many other bands, Cross has succeeded to improve the quality throughout each release, and this seems to be the case again with 'Playgrounds'. Influences from the past like Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, etc are now reunited into a very own sound, neo-progressive symphonic rock as this seems to become typical for Scandinavian bands. On this album Cross has found the perfect balance between the vocal and instrumental pieces. Some will have difficulties with that raw, sometimes complaining voice of Hansi, but after a few listenings you will find out that his voice fits perfectly the instrumental parts. The voice of Lizette gives it a Spektrum feeling, although Cross' music is a lot more risky than the aforementioned Swedish musical project of the Progress Records label. The beautiful varied guitar solos remain the most striking on this album, the influence of top guitarists of the seventies is obvious. Playgrounds is probably the best album, that the band has produced so far.
Rating: 8,5 of 10

"With Playgrounds, Swedish band Cross happily brings all the familiar elements to bear: dominant "widdly" keyboard texturing, soaring lead guitar lines, yearningly evocative vocal delivery and meter changes galore. You want pleasing melodies? Plenty of those here. And how about…epics? Those too (of course!), via four tracks clocking in past 7 minutes, inclusing the 10-minute "A new beginning" and the 15-minute "Mesmerizing enterprise". A full, polished and very proggy work."

"The Neo-prog fans will love songs like "Let the play begin...", "Dejá vu", "...and enter the game" and the 15 minutes counting closing track "Mesmerizing enterprize".
Points: 8.3 out of 10

"The sound on Playgrounds is clearly rooted in the influences of the progressive classics. The Moog and Mellotron sounds, the long guitar and sax solos, the extended instrumentals and the long song lengths yield 7 tracks of rich symphonic music with structures and phrasings that recall both the seventies and the best of nineties-neo. While there's no disputing the quality of the musicianship, and the guitarwork is particularly pleasing. The three 10-plus-minute songs are wonderful exercises in well composed, flowing prog. " Rating: 4/5

"The heart of the album is "Mesmerizing Enterprize" which has over 15 minutes of everything that a good neoprog piece need. Tension, good solos, passable singing and successful melodies, and in the case of CROSS quality is clearly over the average."
Rating: 8/10 POINTS

"I can't stand this redicolously bad CD"

"The 7 songs rocks beautifully hard, have gigantic, majestic mountains of keyboards and wonderful harmonies arranged in tautly organized structures. Ambitious neoprog meeting the stronger conceptions of old school prog putting much attention on the keyboard work and done with great success. In addition to this a driven, complex impact , with dramatic bass runs and hard guitar work is carried through out the entire album. Great compositions, instrumentation rich of variation and an abundance of calmer and louder vital ideas make the songs variated. Above all, the keyboard harmonies, sometimes more dark and sometimes a bit, almost jazzy, and lighter, but always fantastically fat, are easily slipping into the ears. Best example of this is the last track, "Mesmerizing Enterprize", with it's 15 minutes, offering perfect maintenance. I can only recommend."

"Already the opener Let The Play Begin convince with it's piano arpeggio and a totally superb refrain. Hansi always seemed an outstanding guitar player and an emotional solo confirmes that phrase already after 3 minutes into the album. Keyboard freaks also get a pre-taste of the quality of the album with the Banks-like synth solo. With the somewhat heavy but nevertheless beautiful, melodic instrumental song Déja Vù even the mellotron friends are served. The opening of A new Beginning reminds strongly of Now on the Spektrum album. Here also the Gilmour-stylish singing of Hansi is noticeable to me, and of course the sensitive guitar sounds. For the first time also a saxophone solo is heard. Another highlight is the second instrumental composition The Battle OF Thalÿma. Synthesizer fanfares invite to the opening, before a beautiful melody on guitar and keyboard introduce the main topic of the song. Somehow the refrain melody does not get out of my head. A worthy successor of one the best tracks from "Secrets"- Awakening. It also has an amazing violin-solo and such things is always pleasing to me. After the scarcely 10-minute+ "Enter The Game", which triumphs with a Spektrum-sounding keyboard solo, we occur the short intermezzo "Fjärilshonung" before entering the World of Epics. "Mesmerizing Enterprize" presents itself very variedly. It is rocky, pompous, atmospheric, and at the same time also somewhat catchy. The listener gets much required. Result: "Playgrounds" is probably the best work from these swedes. Fans of the melodic British influenced prog music will not come around this album. If you like Grand Stand, Galleon or Spektrum, then you might also favor CROSS." Rating: *****

"This album has something that forces me to listen to it. Playgrounds will not get the price for the "Most surprising CD of 2004". But is that a must? I drive with one arm on the steering wheel and the other one hanging over the passenger seat and enjoy what I hear. No traffic-jam today? Damn."

"Playgrounds is Cross's 8th release and a very pleasant listening experience, containing 7 tracks of individualistic and melodically guitar lead/majestic keyboard swirling music. The opening song 'Let the play begin' has hard and soft prog-moments that keep you in total suspense. Cross's vocals are also full of emotion, harmony and versatility and remind me of progressive rock's music's finest hour. Two impressive songs that stand out are 'A New Beginning' and 'Mesmerizing Enterprize' which are Cross's most challenging and intriguing, whereas the short instrumental interludes - 'Dejá Vù', 'The Battle Of Thalÿma' - show a different side of the band, the latter sounding like a sinister military procession. Overall Playgrounds is a worthwhile addition to those fans that like other Swedish bands like Galleon or European 80-90s neo-progrock bands."

"This album has a great fluidity and is therefore very pleasant to listen to, especially as the band brilliantly alternates vocal tracks and instrumental pieces. Cross have climbed a notch in the progressive hierarchy, without any doubt reaching the tops in its genre (neo-progressive symphonic), which we prefer."

"Old fans will not be disapointed, and new listeners will find references to mainly Genesis, Yes and Van Der Graaf Generator." HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

"The music leans on the heavier and more majestic side of prog, at times hitting the neo style of latter day IQ and also mid-term Genesis (prior to Hackett's departure), the latter especially notable by the keyboards and percussion styles and sounds. As with most review comparisons with other bands, they are just comparisons and this should not be taken to mean that Cross is a clone,only that they pick and alter certain snippets of influential sounds and ideas, which is almost inevitable given the influence of the prog greats. Vocals are very good and have that deep rasping element of those of Mr Gabriel, an analogy I should apologise for given my previous comment! Like all the Progress Records catalogue we have heard to date, Playgrounds does not disappoint. Recommended."

"Cross gives us some long tracks (as usual), "Mesmerizing Enterprize" for example exceeds 15 minutes, nevertheless good writing and fine arrangements makes that the time doesn't feel that long. The longer the pieces are, the more progressive they have become. On "Let The Play Begin... ", "A new Beginning" (with a superb saxophone-solo), "... and Enter The Game" and "Mesmerizing Enterprize", the chemistry between guitar and keyboards really works. The same goes for the instrumental "The Battle Of Thalÿma". The music of Cross is increasingly mature. "Playgrounds" follows the line of its preceding albums. This album feels like a logical continuation of "Secrets". Cross is true Swedish prog."
Rating: 8 out of 10