Somehow Doug Powell's latest release slipped past me until I stumbled upon it about a week ago on emusic. Released fittingly back on Halloween 2010 The Apprentice's Sorcerer is a concept album that turns the world of magic and belief upside down while scrutinizing the essence of light and its impact on what is and is not revealed. It's easy to interpret these songs as an extension of Powell's ongoing spiritual quest as they probe the concepts of belief, deception and ultimately faith. He's become quite the wizard in the studio as the production is top-notch and the songs sound dynamic, provocative and crystal clear. Most of the tunes are hyperactive toe-tappers but Doug squeezes in a couple of touching ballads that really shine in contrast. The album ends with The Professor's Nightmare which features a spoken-word intro by a Stephen Hawking-like drone whose computerized voice creates a synthetic non-human approach to the spirit world yet morphs into a lively piano solo that seemingly incorporates all of humanity's passion and potential and, perhaps, even a bit of its madness. And then suddenly, it's over: all matter has at long last fallen apart along the edges and God has left the building.