I remember the first Uwe Gronau album I heard was MIDSUMMER about five or six years ago and it was a treasure. It had everything: some soft sparse new age stuff, solo piano pieces, a couple of space tunes heavy on the synth, and a variety of almost prog-rock tunes except they were just a little gentle for prog, but with many of the same sounds and sensibilities. Since then I have heard some more of Gronau’s recordings and they are always eclectic -- you never know what you are going to get per album, on any given track and even within a particular song (he loves to start soft and then erupt into a rockin’ volcano of hot and fiery instrumentation).

Gronau’s latest epic is called PARADISE PAINTING and it probably has more drumming and uptempo tempos than any of his other albums. He has always been a favorite among the new age music crowd so I have no idea how receptive they will be to this particular gently-rockin’ effort, but, hey, maybe it will shake them up and get them boogie-ing at their massage therapy and day-spa sessions.

Gronau has always admired keyboardists ranging from Keith Emerson (of Emerson Lake and Palmer) to Patrick Moraz (of Yes and Refugee) [Side note: When Emerson left The Nice, Moraz took his place as keyboardist and they renamed themselves Refugee.] Those influences rear their head on this new album, but interestingly enough, not just in the electric and electronic keyboard parts, but also in the guitar parts (two played by guest Wolfgang Demming, but the rest by Gronau himself using his synth simulator of which he is a master).

For example, “Prophecy,” despite a didgeridoo intro, features roaring prog guitar and excellent Gronau bass synth. Both “Paradise Painting” and “Sister” have a grinding rhythmic guitar (although in the former it is mixed so softly you may have to turn up the volume to fully appreciate it). To hear Gronau do an incredible guitar simulation on his synth, check out “Diving Into the Deep.” Or to hear Gronau soloing on synth (be ready to say “Wow!”), take a listen to “Invisible Man,” “Sounds Like a Smell,” “Carpe Diem” (plus some jazzy piano) and “New Day” (also including some tasty organ).

There are too many delectable moments to list, but you will discover all of them and more if you dive deep into this unusual collection that mixes elements of prog-rock (not too loud) with upbeat new age. Hard to believe, but this is a combination that works on every level.