The Franklin-Neumann Project

"The album "Machinery of the gods" of the FRANKLIN-NEUMANN-PROJECT which is driven by Gary W. Franklin and Bill [Neumann] is already one of the prog highlights of this year. Sensitive songs between melodic progrock, melancholic rock, 70ies rock, soft progmetal with some very very pleasant surprises and effects. Some great instrumentals, a guitarplayer who has plenty of time, some classic music influences and during the last track some melancholic dark wave elements come through. These two guys manage to create a very dense, unique and mystical atmosphere. This albums shows that if there is heart, atmosphere and a unique kind of music, it is very easy to beat nearly everything what I have heard in the last months (including several label productions), even if the production level is not as high as professional studio releases. Hot recommendation! 8 points" - Markus Weis,

"The Franklin-Neumann Project is a duo project by keyboardists/guitarists/vocalists Gary W. Franklin and Bill Neumann. Apparently these guys are using a combination of self-production and self-distribution( to spread their music around. So the sound-quality, and CD labeling isn't as professional as record label releases. But I think that it's great that many bands are using and affordable home-studios to release their music rather than dealing with record companies who only want mainstream music, or get bands to sign away their song rights.

Anyway, the music here shows a strong 80's metal influence with bands like Iron Maiden, Queensryche, and Yngwie Malmsteen coming to mind. Yet some of the tracks have a commercial-quality to them, and sound like an attempt for radio-play(maybe 5 or more years ago). The driving instruments are keyboards, which are lush in a digital sort of way, and eletric guitar. The guitar playing sounds like a mixture of Powerslave-era Dave Murray, and Joe Satriani, with a focus on chugging power-chords, and melodic solos. Most of the tracks also feature vocals, which have a subdued Geoff Tate-quality to them. Overall, this CD will be enjoyed by fans of classic metal, and 80s guitar albums." - Steve Hegede, Zoltan's Progressive Rock Webpage

"What happens when you mix equal parts Rush, Joe Satriani, classical music, and ELP with self-production and mp3 technology? You get folks putting out music that might not otherwise see the light of day given the current state of music distribution. Gary W. Franklin and William L. Neumann are two individuals taking advantage of the new mp3 format to distribute their music to the world.

This 1999 release is a studio-driven project and has a variety of musical styles ranging from progressive metal to gothic/power metal as well as jazz fusion. The songs are nearly equally split between instrumentals and songs with vocals. Lyrically, the songs tell dramatic stories - something sorely lacking in metal today. Franklin and Neumann play all the instruments and sing all the vocals on "Machinery Of The Gods."

The strongest instrumental track on the disc is "Android Dreams" which has a very eclectic structure with some ambitious, without being ostentatious, guitar melodies; the musical passages are very lyrical without being too complicated - the song was inspired by the movie "Blade Runner" (The title of the book from which the film was drawn is "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" - Ed.) The strongest vocal track is "Event Horizon" which brings forth a stylish power metal riff and a strong guitar solo; the song is about a man who sacrifices his friends so that he might live through the event horizon of a black hole.

The ambitious trilogy "Symphony Of Man" starts off the disc in a grand fashion. The first stanza "Kings And Commoners" has an instrumental prelude to the beginning of the story where average citizens are taken away from their families to fight a war for the King. The second stanza, "Princes" opens with a flurry of guitar runs and full of Middle Eastern melodies; the story continues with the central character wondering if he was wise to wish for something he now regrets. The third stanza, "Thieves" starts off in a somber mood before bursting out into a charging rhythm telling the tale of how commoners eventually become kings.

"Mind's Eye" is a mix of Satriani-styled boogie surf guitar and "Countdown" has a wah-wah drenched solo. "Mendelsohn's Electric Guitar Concerto" is a short, but well played instrumental piece based on Mendelsohn's Violin Concerto No. 1 in E minor. "I Can See Forever", the first song written by the Franklin-Neumann tandem, has the same energy and technical virtuosity found in Shadow Gallery's music.

Although the vocals tend to be buried in the mix, the vocals recall some very key voices in the rock's history. "Need To Be (Osiris Gets A Mouth)" has a vocal reminiscent of Triumph's Rik Emmett, the title track has a vocal reminiscent of Geoff Tate of Queensryche, and the ballad "Forever In Your Eyes" recalls Brad Delp of Boston.

Although the production is a bit weak (especially the vocals which are buried in the mix), it is evident that there is a lot of talent in the hearts, minds, and souls of Gary W. Franklin and William L Neumann. I listened to the CD on headphones first and I wasn't pleased with the results I was getting, however, the sound through a good set of speakers is well worth it.

I have great respect for those whose talents far exceed my own no matter what the final product and no matter the means by which it is delivered. The mp3 format may just be the way we listen to music in the future and the way that a greater variety of music is heard by the masses without relying on the normal distribution channels in mass media today.
Check the band's website for more information and a link to the website to purchase their CD "Machinery Of The Gods." - Christopher J. Kelter,

"'Machinery of the Gods', the debut release from The Franklin-Neumann Project is a very potent, wide ranging collection of songs which range from grandiose progressive hard rock, driving neoclassical guitar instrumentals to even touches of well produced AOR.

The Franklin-Neumann Project, actually consisting of the obviously talented duo of Gary W. Franklin and Bill Neumann deserve alot of credit for creating music of this high quality mostly it appears, in their home studio! Although the production is somewhat uneven at times, overall it is quite good, especially turned up at a high volume on a good sound system.

Beginning with the ambitious three part opening composition "Symphony of Man",which starts off with a gorgeous keyboard and guitar intro before switching to a fine progressive rock/metal workout which features some very fine lead guitar work, although the rhythm guitars sound a bit thin at times. Overall though this is a fine opening track with strong lyrics and very appealing vocals. "Mendelsohn's Electric Guitar Concerto No1 in Em"is next, a brief neoclassical instrumental which also contains some excellent guitar work which unfortunately is too short!  The orchestral ballad "Forever in Your Eyes" is a very well constructed track which borders on AOR,with vocals that recall Chicago's Peter Cetera, although a bit harder edged.

Continuing the album is another fine guitar driven instrumental "Mind's Eye", which is very Satrianiesqe in nature ala "Surfing With The Alien", with a great guitar melody. "I Can See Forever" is a very compelling progressive metal track which will remind listeners of the work of Shadow Gallery, although not an epic track, only lasting a little over three and a half minutes. The third instrumental track "Android Dreams" is also the strongest, featuring more fine lead guitar work and is very good structurally.  "Event Horizon" is a somewhat straightforward hard rock composition with progressive overtones, mainly due to the well played keyboard work. This track also features a very credible vocal performance.

Up next is "Need To Be(Osiris Gets A Mouth), an interesting prog track which is notable for its complex time changes, which has somewhat of a Dream Theater feel.  "Countdown" is another strong instrumental track that features a great wah drenched guitar solo amidst a driving rhythm section. Wrapping up the cd is the title track "Machinery of the Gods", a keyboard dominated track which ends the album in fine fashion, containing very strong vocals, along with very good yet unobtrusive keyboard work.

"Machinery of the Gods" is a very good, solid debut from two very talented musicians who, if this is any indication, can be counted on making much more fine music in the future! The main weakness is the overall production, which although very good at times, especially the lead guitar parts, suffers from the thin rhythm guitar sound. All in all though, this is a very promising debut, which is definitely worth investigating!" - Keith Langerman, Metal And Hard Rock Area.

"These two people, Gary W Franklin and Bill Neumann, are fans of a great deal of music genres it seems. They seem to be first of all into classical music, but also general metal such as Iron Maiden. In the vocals I hear the likes of Geoff Tate (Queensr˙che) even if they are not as high pitching as his. Most of the melodies on this album are generated by the electric lead guitar. That's where the Maiden influences comes in, since some of the stuff on it are really in the exact style as Maiden would have done it. The songs are simple and not in the epic long run feel. Easy listening, but still with some progressive moves. But that's what I miss really, the prog. Even though it's based out of progressive rock, I find more of the general metal sound, even if it sounds great. A bit more space and progressive sounds would be a recommendation. A quite good album though, so check it out!" - Magnus Florin, Through Different Eyes.

"You people like Jethro Tull? I think you'll like this Project then. The vocals are much like JT - you know, they sound like someone singing through a padded cell door. Yep. That's this!

Even though I have no lyrics to compare, the words spewing forth are indeed VERY Tull-like in the flow of sentences and emotion of enunciation.

The tracks aren't numbered on the cd, but track 8 is a glorious instrumental filled to the brim - and beyond - with bright, new-day guitar breaking forth from the slow beat of the drum. Uplifting. And quite professional. The next step in the evolution of progressive music, I'd say.

I'm not crazy about the backing vocals on the 1st track, 'Symphony of Man', but there aren't many evil things to say about progrock done SO well. They've got killer guitar playing, and they know how to weave memorable tunes and make them last the length of Ben Hur. They've also conSistently been tops of the prog charts on and I now know why.

Worth getting. Better than a lot on the Atlantic label even. Praise to the Gods!" - Ben Ohmart, NZone Magazine.

"Progressive rockduo from the US. All titles from their CD "Machinery of the Gods".

Download tip: "Android Dreams", probably one of the best instrumentals in recent time, unfortunately, it comes to an end after 4:17 min. For fans of guitarrock is a definite rotation announced.

People who don't enjoy downloading that much, can tease their appetite for more with the 1:14 min cut "Mendelsohn's Electric Guitar Concerto". After that it is just a matter of time how long it takes to download the rest." - DownloadHits, The MP3 Magazine [translation from German courtesy Michael Hepperle].

"Symphony of Man - A rather ambitious work in 3 parts: Kings and Commoners, Princes and Thieves. Kings is an instrumental prelude while the other parts are vocal progressive rock. This neo-classical rock reminds me of some of my own work, so of course I dig it. If you like Rush or ELP then this piece will be right up your alley. Well done." - DMZ MP3 Reviews

"The Franklin-Neumann Project is a duo of Gary W. Franklin and Bill Neumann who together play all the instruments, sing all the vocals, etc. Now that's the obvious, what isn't so obvious is style of music this duo creates. If you think Machinery Of The Gods is an album filled with rollicking rock themes, a la "Countdown," which I reviewed on the AXcavation compilation, then you will be surprised to hear the Queenryche-like "Symphony Of Man - Thieves," which also comes across a bit like Blue Öyster Cült, Rainbow, and Black Sabbath in their mellower moments. Queenryche return for "I Can See Forever" (mainly that whomever is vocalizing here often sounds like Geoff Tate). This track is more keyboard based that anything else on the album, as elsewhere guitars are the focus instrument, though drums are high in the mix. But, if you think this band is only influenced by Queensryche, then there's "Event Horizon" which belies some of that.

The duo name check the artists that you can clearly hear in their sound - Dream Theater, Queensryche (as mentioned), Metallica, Steve Vai, Rush, Maiden, and many others. But Franklin-Neumann are also squarely in the AOR camp, as evidenced the soft balladic "Forever In Your Eyes" (shades of Survivor, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Aerosmith, and oh so many more). Make sure you have a lighter or two handy for this one, even if you don't have the stadium crowd to join you. Sway back and forth, looking up dreamily. Or, if you're a guy (or an unsentimental woman), hang on till the next track ("Mind's Eye")...cuz baby this is a rockin' tune! Uh-uh, think Satriani and fleet fingered guitar playing. Foot pressing the accelerator to the floor, your head is pinned back against the seat of your roadster, the open road is ahead of you, and there's nary a copper in sight. Pure exhilaration. And yet, nothing you ain't heard before.

The opener "Symphony Of Man - Kings And Commoners" drives with a slow pulse, a very laid back feel that is grated against by the distorted guitar that buzzes like a saw. The medieval theme evoking knights seems at odds with the Egyptian imagery of the sleeve. But there is a whole theme being developed here that is working on many levels. One that occurred to me, though not the first, was that there has been speculation that the pyramids were built by alien beings. The spacey references in "Event Horizon" help make this a valid suggestion (I mean, my suggestion as to theme).

As I was listening to "Symphony Of Man - Princes" (the second track), I kept thinking to myself that the whole mood and feel and arrangement seemed very familiar. That but for the distorted guitar (a la track one), and that the vocals didn't seem to be a burly Scotsman, this very well could be Marillion's "Grendel". And yes, as that track had hints to Genesis, those elements are here, too. But, take that imagery and AOR it a bit, and you'll have this track down.

I said that keys were most prominent in "I Can See Forever," but swirling, rippling washes twist and turn in "Android Dreams" while precise and delicate guitar notes are played. Keys give way to grinding guitars and driving percussion, as lead guitar leads become more frantic. Not only does Satriani and Vai come to mind, but so does Eric Johnson, as if there is a specific tone that must be used for tracks of this nature. Perhaps all three play the same brand of guitar (which isn't mentioned and I'm not going to guess at) and so all get the same tone.

"Event Horizon" begins somewhat like REM, before it takes on a Marillion-esque aspect, which fades away into something very much Iron Maiden like, except for the chorus. Electrified Eagles -- that's the phrase that comes to mind. And the ubiquitous Queensryche, of course. Hmm...maybe a little Kansas in there, too. The arrangement is somewhat sultry, though the subject matter isn't. Of course, I reviewed this track when reviewing the Unearthed compilation last month. What I didn't do is memorize this track or my comments on it, so I found it strange to look back now and see that I said much the same thing: "... music performed by cowboys of the digital age. I guess how the Eagles would sound with digital instruments, leaving the vocals to Randy Meisner."

About the rest of the album, "Need To Be - Osiris Gets A Mouth" reminded me at times of Arena (of "Jericho" specifically), though for the most part I think of Kansas, even if the imagery recalls Iron Maiden's Powerslave (an album name checked in the song even). There's "Countdown," which has a danceable beat, modern surf music. In fact, what I said about it earlier was: "It's not just a countdown, folks, it's a beachfront barbecue party, where folks in floral print shirts and Panama hats, or bikinis, are grooving hundreds of yards from a towering rocket."

And so all this leaves us with the title track. Sound effects that sound like they'd come from a space-spaghetti western and rumbling, stuttering drums open the track, clearing away from lyrical keys, time-keeping drums, and chugging guitars - yes, more 'ryche-isms here.

If the duo didn't make all this so engaging, one might dismiss them because of their strongly influenced sound. The album itself is quite good, though I do have some production quibbles, as the sound seems a little muddied, and the drums are sometimes too up in the mix. For me the real draw are the two instrumental rockers, 'Mind's Eye' and 'Countdown.'" - Stephanie Sollow,