Jeff Royer is a 28 year old solo artist from California, working away in his small cabin on Palomar Mountain in San Diego – this is where the magic happens! He is another one of those astounding musicians who love being entirely independent, writing, recording and producing all of his own material unaided. His 2019 debut album ‘A Portal To The Message’ marked his first independent effort; this piano and synth led offering evokes a heavy Supertramp influence that meets a space rock sound. Royer describes it as a “testing waters album” in which he wasn’t overly worried about complexity. Now that he is more comfortable in the realms of being a solo artist, Royer is beginning to musically challenge himself for the next album. His efforts have paid off on his new single ‘Wizard At Work Part 1’ that definitely sounds proggier, evoking a clear Yes influence.
This six minute piece refuses to repeat itself, encompassing both symphonic and atmospheric elements, Royer neatly ties this piece together with multiple recurring motifs that solidify all of his amazing musical ideas. The introduction is purposeful, with the tonic being outlined in the lower parts and emphasised in the higher descending synth parts – the guitar doubles the synth later on. The last bar in each phrase is filled in with a tasteful keys lick to spice up this introductory section. A more symphonic section then follows, beginning with a rapid ascending figure on the guitars; in fact the guitars really take the lead here for this entire section, presenting the listener with some memorable melodies. The twin guitar melody, in-particular, that precedes a more ambient section, works really effectively at indicating that something significant is about to occur. And funnily enough, the next section introduces the main motif in the best possible way; a huge synth drone gives this part of the song a vastness that brings this motif to the forefront. The bass and drums do an excellent job of grounding the music and retaining the energy of the piece. An unexpected rapid descending figure on the guitars then brings us into a new section centred around just two chords that allow for some soloing opportunities. The guitar and synth are both let loose, producing similarly melodic and hearty solos, each solo separated by a repeat of the rapid descending figure. The music then builds towards the final section of the piece which sees the return of the huge synth drone and that all important motif – with no drums or bass grounding the music here, a weight feels like it has finally been lifted as the motif repeats until fade out. If you listen carefully, you can hear the rapid descending figure distantly in the background making its way down to the tonic where it unifies with the synth drone. This final section feels like something has been resolved!
With the album set for release in just one months time, this first taste of ‘Wizard At Work’ will whet your appetite. For those lovers of symphonic prog bands such as Yes and Camel, this will be of great appeal to you. If you still want to hear more of Royer before the album comes out, check out his first album – you won’t be disappointed by any of the music he has made so far!
Written by Dominic Sanderson
You can find Jeff Royer on Instagram. You can listen to the single ‘Wizard At Work Part 1’ on all major streaming platforms. His new album ‘Wizard At Work’ comes out in December 2020!