No Man's Land have been around since the mid-80s, with a hiatus during the 90s that seems to have made them more mature. Their early releases show a strong psych/blues rock inclination, while their return in 2008 finds them increasingly experimenting, reaching a progressive psychedelic sound decorated with a plethora of instruments.
'Unprotected' seems to pick up from their previous release in the sense that the compositions tend to be long, filled with improvisation and dominated with the distinct character of brass instruments. The mood of the album interestingly varies between 'bright' and darker atmospheres, but constantly breeding the feeling of a "live-studio" album that would sound exactly the same if witnessed on stage.
The instrumental Moribundo part II kicks off quite reservedly, with a delay-effect on the guitars and leaving the ''brasses'' to take the lead. Even though the track generally flows in a "relaxed" atmosphere, the percussion is intriguing and after a couple of minutes the flute delivers a stunning solo that reminds me of Ozric Tentacles. The continuation builds on a bluesy guitar solo which in turn is handing over to psych-voices and various instruments taking over in turns until the closing in pure improvisation fashion.
One cannot disregard the similarity of the main theme of Flame with Pink Floyd's 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun', showing the band's deep psychedelic roots, ''daring'' to clock at more than 13 mins. Low-tone, mellow vocals, quirky flute and cello (!) passages render this track dark and brooding, while after turning into an instrumental after ~5 minutes, the vocals re-appear towards the end to finish off with a nice melodic refrain.
Slightly heavier, A Brave Face starts of with a catchy bass line and distorted backing guitars passage interchanging for the majority of its duration with a main theme based on a flute melody and a funky/psych clean guitar. The middle part is yet again left for experimentation with the flute and guitar taking turns.
The only short track on the album is Permian Vacation, led by a heavy, mid-tempo, guitar/flute psychedelic riff and a beautiful, natural simplicity in its approach that makes it the most accessible tune on the album. The harmonies on the guitars work perfectly and the multiple layers of instruments towards the end supply the finishing touch to this rocking taster.
Unprotected in the World is possibly the proggiest and most complete track in terms of composition. It picks up straight from the end of 'Permian Vacation' but this time the main theme glows a distinct Greek character (reminiscent of Dionysis Savvopoulos) and Vassilis sings in a manner that brings Caravan in mind, mixing influences from a wider prog spectrum.
Under the dominant psychedelic rock mask of No Man's Land, one can distinguish influences from legendary blues/rock/prog bands (e.g. Socrates on the guitars, Peloma Bokiou) and a clear tendency for experimentation and improvisation. 'Unprotected' flows on a very low tempo but quite enjoyably and gets stronger as it progresses, with the highlights being 'Permian Vacation' and 'Unprotected in the World'. With better time management, I feel that this album could have been even better, but no major weaknesses can be spotted here. Warmly recommended to (and potentially much more appreciated by) fans of psychedelic rock looking for something different and unrestrained with regards to expression.
3.5 stars deserved.