Dutch Progressive Rock Page
2005 : VOLUME 31

REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


In Nomine - Mythos
In Nomine - Mythos
Country of Origin:Spain
Format:CD
Record Label: Musea Records
Catalogue #:FGBG 4514
Year of Release:2005
Time:44:59
Info:-
Samples:-

Tracklist: Cronus (2:26), Zeus, Son of Cronus (4:29), Ares (7:15), Hypnos’ Suite (5:00), Pandora (4:39), Helen (6:10), Sisyphus (15:00)

Well, excepting a couple of negligible flaws (which can be safely attributed to youthful and exuberant naiveté), In Nomine’s second release Mythos is a triumphant success. I think that (excluding maybe the most curmudgeonly response by jaded, old-school greybeards) this is exactly the sort of music contemporary progressive rock fans are hoping and wanting to hear. In short, it’s an excellent, well-crafted CD.

In Nomine debuted four years ago with Mutatis Mutandis (which I haven’t heard but will likely seek out) and I believe that the band line-up hasn’t altered in the interim. Esteban Fragas plays the electric and Spanish guitars and adds back-up vocals; Julio Cesar Fragas plays fretted and fretless bass guitars and effects; Andres Gonzales plays the grand piano and synthesizers (except on Eros Falling, on which Esteban Fragas lends his keyboard talents); and the band is rounded out with Leonardo Perez on lead vocals, drums, and effects. As well, Mr. Perez is the principle lyricist for the band: a budding Neil Peart, perhaps? There is certainly a correspondence between Mythos and Moving Pictures-era Rush, evident very much in the serious, literary lyrics and then also in some of the guitar tones and phrasing and in the percussive rhythm attack. I didn’t find this correspondence to be offensive, since In Nomine does a fine job of utilizing influences without sounding too derivative or imitative. Plus, I happen to like Rush. (I should mention, since I’m discussing the band’s personnel, that Cruz Hermida adds her touching vocal accoutrements to Pandora, Helen, and Eros Rising.)

Obviously enough perhaps, Mythos is a conceptual offering based on the myths and legends of Attic Greece. In Nomine is immersed in the world of eternal archetypes on Mythos: wily gods (Zeus, Ares, Hypnos), barbarous titans (Cronus), and flawed human beings (Pandora, Helen, Sisyphus) are the subjects of Perez’ lyrical reflections. There is a huge opportunity for this concept to bloat like a month-old corpse, with the accompanying stink, and yet each theme is handled tastefully and suitably with a minimum of bombast and affectation. The lyrics are slightly overwrought and vague, but I wondered if this was merely the proverbial loss in translation from Spanish to English. Song lyrics (and poetry) often do not transfer well out of the original language, so I’m willing to give In Nomine a pass here, especially since the lyrics do seem to contain an appealing double emphasis, marrying post-modern self-awareness to the grandeur of classical epic.

The CD begins with Cronus. The opening is cacophonous and majestic, then metamorphs into a bona fide Rush-style reggae vamp complete with 80s synth touches. Fragas’ electric guitar work is clean and precise, and he employs a good assortment of sounds to maintain the idiosyncrasy of each passage. Cronus is brief; you don’t really settle into the groove and then Zeus, Son of Cronus makes its appearance by uninterrupted segue. The guitar riff is energized and frantic, while the keys set the mood and the rhythm section drives hard. The singing is fluid and catchy on this track; many times I was reminded of John Wetton at his cleverest and even a subdued Frank Zappa. The ensemble control of shifting times and emphases is abundant and professional here and throughout Mythos. My two complaints about the track are, first, that the melody lines aren’t especially compelling and, second, that the synth tone sometimes sounds very dated. But the overall tightness of the tune, the tricky harmony vocals, and the stellar musicianship counter any detraction from the impact of Zeus, Son of Cronus.

Ares is next, proving that In Nomine fits very well into the late 70s-early 80s prog era that featured Rush, U. K., Saga, Gentle Giant’s Civilian (an underrated classic), some of Tull’s more electronic albums (e.g., Underwraps), and some of the earliest neo-prog releases. The playing is sharp and well-defined with a perfect balance between guitar lines and keyboard embellishment. The recurring guitar hook is haunting. I appreciated the band’s willingness to leave some open space rather than jam it full of mind-numbing solos and riffs; these breaks permit the bass, keys, and drums to colour the track and create a tension that the guitar or vocals will address and resolve. The lead singing on this track is a bit stilted; the background vocals are sweet but there’s too little to bolster Perez’ delivery. Ares highlights the bands greatest strength, though. The arrangements are impeccable and the dynamic movement from segment to segment is simply well done.

Track four is Hypnos’ Suite, which is probably the most unique song on the CD. It recalls Andy Partridge (of XTC) and Tears for Fears at their most symphonic. The melody is strong, hummable, and airy; at times I thought this was a lost Brian Wilson track. Really, this is pop gem. I like In Nomine in this vein (in the same way that I like Yes’ move to a more streamlined pop format on 90125) and I hope that the band continues to explore this style of song craft as it evolves, without forsaking the harder material.

Pandora is a slightly bland, restrained piano-electric guitar duet that features some round-style vocals and a good serving of arpeggio chords. There’s nothing terrible about this song, and in fact, the keyboard-led and heavily syncopated break in the middle is interesting, but the tune just never stands out as especially well developed or even refined. This song does highlight the top-notch mix of this recording, though; there is never any blurring of instruments and the piano and guitar are crisp and pristine.

Helen is a return to the Rush influence, and again, the band is so robust in its playing and tight in its presentation that admiration overwhelms any worry that the band is a mere copycat. In Nomine uses an odd signature in the tune that is well managed and never seems jarring at all. I might have preferred a little less shifting of phrases this time out, as the song never seems to generate the consistent power it might have with a recognizable, recurring motif, but nonetheless, the chameleon arrangement is impressive. I don’t think In Nomine has too many limitations in terms of chops or musical imagination. The vocals are again disjointed at times. I think a powerful, adept lead vocalist, concentrating only on singing (and not drumming and/or time-keeping!), might give this band a boost into greater acclaim.

The final track is Sisyphus, which opens with a gorgeous Spanish guitar piece. The initial phrase echoes Steve Howe’s introduction to Yes’ Roundabout, but subsequently, Esteban Fragas is wholly in the world of flamenco and Steve Hackett ambience. To be honest, I was stunned by this portion of Mythos. The tune develops into a keyboard-driven medium-tempo rocker, with an Andy Summers-type guitar accompaniment. Sisyphus really doesn’t offer anything novel although it maintains the high level of quality and complexity evident in the preceding tracks. It concludes (clocking in at 15:00 on the dot) with a second helping of Fragas’ Spanish guitar magic.

All-in-all, Mythos is a fine release and a more-than-worthwhile listen. The musicianship is professional, the arrangements are considered and lively, and there’s a healthy freshness throughout the tracks that holds attention. As with any developing band, In Nomine has things to work on and work out, but the band is very, very good and the final product is remarkable. I especially recommend this CD to fans of Rush, contemporary prog (a la Tiles), and anyone who enjoyed the final half of the initial wave of progressive rock (circa 1978-1982). I’ll give Mythos a few more spins and absolutely look forward to the follow-up disc.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

JOHN SHANNON



Lana Lane - Lady Macbeth
Lana Lane - Lady Macbeth
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Think Tank Media
Catalogue #: TTMD-1040
Year of Release:2005
Time:54:14
Info:Lana Lane
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: The Dream That Never Ends (7:55), Someone To Believe (4:43), Our Time Now (5:19), Summon The Devil (5:52), No Tomorrow (4:40), Shine On Golden Sun (5:33), The Vision (4:06), Keeper of the Flame (5:45), We Had the World (6:31), Dunsinane Walls (3:38)

Lady Macbeth, the latest CD release by, who many Europeans and Asians have come to recognize over the past 10 years as the Queen of Symphonic Rock, Lana Lane, is a powerful, heavy symphonic, epic rock album, based on the famous Shakespeare play. Marking the 10th anniversary of her first CD, Love is an Illusion, and 20 plus releases later, this concept album tells the "Macbeth" story from the perspective of villainous Lady Macbeth. With ten haunting and original songs, primarily written by Lane, twist on the story is emotional and passionate, but somewhat sympathetic and ominous.

Released on the Avalon label in Japan, on Think Tank Media in North America and Frontier Records in Europe this CD is full of darkness and power, from beginning to end. The new Lane masterpiece unravels the ambition and madness of Lady Macbeth caught up in the crimes of her murderous husband and accomplice, she reasons their plans, coldly encouraging and urging her husband’s actions and grimly awaiting the news of the king’s demise.

Lane masterfully weaves her fix on the story, giving the listener a front row view of the progressive inner workings of the mind of Lady Macbeth, first cunningly waiting as her plans unfold, seemingly taking charge and then later a bit of regret catching in her voice - remembering a better life before betrayal and terror took up residence in her mind.

Produced and co-written by Lane’s husband, Erik Norlander, this CD is a must for any symphonic rock fan. No mushed-out frilly girl piece, this hard-rocking rock opera can hold its own alongside Pink Floyd’s The Wall or The Who’s Tommy. The tunes definitely have a strong feminine touch, but the working word is “strong”. With plenty of thunder, Lane and Norlander don’t hold back any punches on this one.

As always, Lane’s voice is clear and strong, filled with passion. The lady rocks and there is no argument that Lane is among the best of vocalists. This is symphonic rock at its best with her amazing voice that can seductively soothe or shake the rafters, playing the main part. Compared at times to Ann Wilson or Pat Benatar, she is very much an individual artist in her own right, once again showing us that her voice abilities are limitless, with range to spare. Lane easily exceeds those fine ladies as a storyteller, especially this time around. Lady Macbeth is the perfect vehicle for her enchanting and passionate vocal styling, which serves to teleport the listener to a world of history and fantasy. Powerfully belting out each hard driving rock number well above the instruments Lane can also settle into sensitive ballad mode when the song calls for it - just another aspect that Lane is so very good at, without losing any of the energy or dynamics as she switches from mood to mood and register to register. Norlander does not disappoint one bit as a master producer or as a keyboardist. As a musician/technician, he instils a sense of mystery throughout the epic, painting with vibrant colours of crescendos and extended progressive chords, which masterfully support and drive Lane’s voice from song to song.

The band is an excellent group of master musicians, most of who have supported Lane for most of the past ten years. Guitarists Peer Verschuren, Mark McCrite and Neil Citron were joined by newcomer Kristoffer Gildenlow on bass, Don Schiff on NS Stick, Ernst Van Ee on drums and Kelly Keeling on harmony vocals.

The CD has its moments of “in-your-face” rock and roll that is offset by some very beautiful ballads. Even though the CD is an epic-concept production, many of the songs can stand alone on their own merit, being commercial friendly. The first of which is the opener, The Dream That Never Ends. It is a powerful opening anthem. Staying true to the darkness of this tale of murder and betrayal the first track introduces Her Ladyship arising from the softness of a mystical dream before it rips into a powerful rock anthem that drives her through her madness with unrelenting war drums. Lane’s powerful controlled vocal styling rings throughout Lady Macbeth. In contrast, still with a dark theme, Summon the Devil (track 4) is a wickedly fun and haunting chant that echoes Shakespeare’s lines from the scene of the three witches stirring their caldron of trouble. “Double, double, toil and trouble, Fire burn and caldron bubble…something wicked this way comes”. Lane is supported by a chorus of vocals and strong and equally dark comping by Norlander on clavinet and synthesizers, somewhat reminiscent of Edgar Winters’ Frankenstein.

Creating a multi-coloured offering in on track 6, Shine on Golden Sun begins softly - floating on top of acoustic guitar and mandolin arpeggios and trills. This one quietly emerges before exploding into a chorus of vocals and pounding drums over the chorus and solos. The Vision (track 7) is a nice instrumental interlude featuring Erik Norlander on keyboard solos, Neil Citron on guitar solos and Don Schiff on NS Stick solos. Lane, McCrite and Keeling, skilfully added atmosphere in a soft chorus of oohs and aahs.

Dunsinane Walls, – As the Macbeths realize the truth of the witches’ warning in their final hour, they meet their doom as their enemies close in on the castle. This haunting melody is unyielding, beginning with a single Mellotron line above a piano awaiting Lane’s sweet and sad song of farewell - “And so my friends, I bid adieu”.

According to Norlander, he recorded the CD with Lane’s European touring musicians in Schiedam, The Netherlands: virtuosos Peer Verschuren on guitar and Ernst Van Ee on drums, along with newcomer to the Lana Lane family, Swedish bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw coming from the excellent prog metal band, Pain of Salvation. American contributors to the Lana Lane project were Mark McCrite on guitar and harmony vocals, Neil Citron on guitar and Don Schiff on NS/Stick. Norlander also recruited the lead vocalist from his solo albums, Kelly Keeling, to contribute stunning harmony vocals to the album.

Lane and the band are currently on tour in Europe and Japan. American fans eagerly await information regarding concert dates in the states. For more information about the tour and to purchase Lady Macbeth, visit the Lana Lane Website.

LORRAINE KAY



Blue Drift – Mariner
Blue Drift – Mariner
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:CARP787
Year of Release:2005
Time:50:45
Info:Blue Drift
Samples:-

Tracklist: Flight Of Doom (4:18), Nuclear Train (7:14), Deep Space (8:18), Digging For Chance (7:04), Half Light (3:06), The Mariner (21:18)

Mariner is the last of three-in-a-row instrumental Prog albums I have recently reviewed. Blue Drift hail from the UK and, unlike the Dutch Novox and USA’s Parallel Mind, are already on to album No. 2 (check out the review of their debut Cobalt Coast here). Unsurprisingly, they evince a stronger group identity than the other two bands, and eschewing histrionic displays of virtuosity, have assembled a strong set of carefully crafted instrumentals which lean more to the Neo side of things. Indeed, if you enjoy early Twelfth Night or The Lens (the pre IQ combo) you will be in the right frame of mind to appreciate this fine offering. There is also a rich seam of Jazz Fusion influences running through some of the tracks.

John and Dave Lodder handle bass and guitar/keyboards respectively whilst Arch provides drums and percussion. The latter two named have also played with folk-proggers The Morrigan, whose multi talented (check out his superb Isle Of Eight CD) Colin Masson provides the tasteful artwork for this release. There are little or no folk influences here, though.

The opening pair of tunes, Flight Of Doom and Nuclear Train, are both upbeat, energetic rock-based workouts. Flight... chugs along its unstoppable course like a runaway train, powered by the busy rhythm section whilst Dave Lodder alternates crashing power chords and searing guitar leads. Nuclear Train is more of the same, with knobs on! The pace is quickened and the tension heightened. The tightly structured piece is well thought out – like an ultra-modern rollercoaster, it grips you from the start and will leave you breathless and wanting more at the end.

A much needed change of pace appears on the third track. Deep Space does exactly what it says on the tin – starting in sequencer driven Tangerine Dream mode- it effortlessly slides into a Shine On... Pink Floyd vibe for a languorous, meandering eight minute bliss out.

Digging For Chance and Half Light see the band unleashing their Fusion chops. I particularly like Dave Lodder’s guitar tone here (on Half Light his leads resemble those of the mighty Alan Holdsworth, it’s hot stuff!). John Lodder proves to be a tasty (and tasteful) player too, and the brief Half Light manages to squeeze in a concise drum solo from Arch. These two tracks are solid fusion efforts which should not alienate the Neo crowd either.

The concluding track clocks in at a mammoth 21 minutes and should have the traditional prog fans drooling. There are plenty of good, chunky guitar riffs, swirling synth solos and multiple tempo changes. There is a long section towards the end which sees the band recreating a similar mood to that of Camel’s instrumental opus The Snow Goose. It’s a laidback, mellow treat for fans of more subtle, soundscape-y stuff, or those in a nostalgic mood for the glory days of the mid 70’s.

On a slightly negative note, some of the music on this CD (and particularly the last, longest track) seems designed for someone to come along and add vocals and lyrics to complete the picture. There is a slight air of something missing – the icing on the cake, perhaps. This was not something I felt when listening to the Novox or Parallel Mind discs. Blue Drift does give the impression that they really would like to have a front man out there leading the charge. Having said that, the music here is very enjoyable, and if they could find a good, robust vocalist, and continue to produce music of this calibre, they would really be onto something.

The album does score highly by varying the style and tempo of the tunes, grouping them into pairs, for a nicely evolving, flowing album. As it stands, it’s a very nice album, with some fiery high spots, plenty of variety and great musicianship.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

DAVE SISSONS



Little King – Virus Divine
Little King – Virus Divine
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:Unicorn Digital
Catalogue #:UNCR-5019
Year of Release:2005
Time:36:04
Info:Little King Info
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: All I Need (4:49), Narcissus And Echo (3:49), Peacemaker (5:37), Second Wind (5:09), Antibodies (4:07), Virus Divine (6:03), Paso Del Norte (5:01), Horsefeathers (1:24)

Unicorn have previously been a label best known for predominantly instrumental acts playing what you could describe as prog-fusion, the best known probably being Canadian outfit Spaced Out. This release, the third album from American band Little King, shows that they’re keen to branch out, as Virus Divine is a very different beast.

Prominent in the promotional material is the fact that this album was mixed by Terry Brown. Brown is of course well known for his work with Rush, but seeing as he last worked with the band in 1982, and has done myriad things since, he must be a bit fed up with constantly being linked to one particular band. Nonetheless the implication is that Little King do sound a bit like the Canadian titans. Well, to be honest there are a few overtones – at various points the sound is similar to the band’s more straightforward material from the late 70’s, and the more aggressive, no-frills approach of Vapor Trails. Little King mainman Ryan Rosoff’s vocals sometimes stray into Geddy Lee territory, though mainly in the heavier sections when he tends to get a little shrill – his normal delivery is in a lower key.

I don’t want to go overboard on the Rush comparisons however – the material on Virus Divine is better described as a mix of classic hard rock and more modern alternative rock. The song structures are generally quite involved, however, which does perhaps put them vaguely in the progressive rock category. Rosoff hangs these songs on a concept, albeit a fairly vague one – basically centring around a man watching the infamous Columbine High School massacre unfold on television, and then resolving to ‘inject’ the ‘virus divine’ of peace and love across humanity. It sounds a bit wishy-washy but the lyrics are actually quite well written and shot through with some intelligent thought.

Songwise, the album kicks off with All I Need, a track which manages to shoehorn a range of diverse influences – the opening percussive rhythm could have been lifted straight off Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, the main riff sounds like a slightly harder version of the one off Boston’s More Than A Feeling, whilst the verses and chorus both have a hint of Tom Petty about them – whilst still having a sound of its own. It’s a slightly deceptive opener though, lacking the rough edges seen elsewhere on the album. Narcissus And Echo boasts a more modern, vaguely emo-ish sound which at times comes close to Coheed and Cambria, whilst both Peacemaker and the title track balance more whimsical passages with harder edged sections where Rosoff sounds at the end of his tether, railing against a wall of heavy guitar noise. The more mellow tracks, such as Second Wind, have a touch of Coldplay about them, particularly in the guitar sound, whilst there’s also a definite King’s X influence at play throughout the album.

Whilst in general Little King prefer to stick to the song than go off on lengthy instrumental trips, there are still some solo spots of note – particularly on the title track, where Rosoff’s fine extended guitar solo ventures into vintage Alex Lifeson territory. A word should also be said about the rhythm section of drummer Wes Kahalekulu and bassist Shannon Brady, who play very tightly throughout and tend to drive the music on, rather than sitting back off the pace.

In conclusion then, whilst nothing earth-shatteringly exciting, this is still a solid, enjoyable album. The songs are well written and all feature strong hooks and choruses. Perhaps it’s a little on the short side, but then it would probably get a bit dull if any longer, to be honest. Overall, a solid effort that fans of intelligent rock music may wish to check out.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10

TOM DE VAL



Overhead – Metaepitome
Overhead – Metaepitome
Country of Origin:Finland
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea Records
Catalogue #:FGBG.4600.AR
Year of Release:2005
Time:58:31
Info:Overhead
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Metaepitome (19:40), WARNING: Ending Without Warning (7:56), Point Of View (5:17), Butterfly’s Cry (7:05), Arrival of The Red Bumblebee (2:16), Dawn (16:22)

I always find that, when a press release states that a band and album as ‘truly original’, its always best to take this with a pinch of salt. This is definitely the case with this, the second release from Finnish outfit Overhead. This isn’t to say that the band are totally unoriginal – they definitely have at least the makings of their own sound – but the influences from bands such as Pink Floyd, Genesis, Marillion, Rush et al are clearly audible throughout, and in a couple of cases pretty blatant.

The album kicks off with the nearly 20 minute title track, which is certainly one of the highlights of the album. The first part of the track has a very Floydian feel – a gentle balladic opening leads into a mellow symphonic section complete with some very Gilmour-esque guitar work from Jaakko Kettunen – think of the atmosphere created by Floyd on Meddle and you’ll be in the right ballpark. Alex Keskitalo’s vocals, whilst perhaps not overly strong, are able to handle a variety of musical styles, and reminded me a lot of ACT vocalist Herman Saming. The track changes dramatically at around the five minute mark where a bass rumble that seems to be almost directly lifted from Floyd’s The Happiest Days Of Our Lives heralds a decent up-tempo instrumental section that sees Overhead veering into the neoprog territory inhabited by the likes of IQ. From here the track branches into a variety of directions, including a slightly bluesy section (complete with Clapton-esque solo work from Kettunen) which, with its mixture of heavy riffs and Hammond organ could almost have come from a 70’s Deep Purple album, and a piano and vocal segment that recalls the torch-song balladeering on Marillion’s early albums with Fish. Although at times it seems like the band are chucking everything into the mix they can think of, this epic does hang together surprisingly well, with some recurring musical themes helping give a sense of unity. There’s also no denying the band’s winning way with a melody, and there’s a quirky feel to the material that’s quite attractive.

Other standouts are WARNING: Ending Without Warning which, with its mix of cod-reggae rhythms, a chantalong chorus and chunky riffs, veers very close to ACT territory, and Butterfly’s Cry, which makes you forgive its nonsensical title by dint of a combination of some winning melodic hooks which owe something to Neal Morse-era Spock’s Beard and some very funky grooves.

Unfortunately, Metaepitome has its fair share of weaker material – Point Of View is dominated by series of rather dull and unoriginal guitar solos, whilst the 16 minute Dawn goes practically nowhere very slowly – the complete antithesis of the over-ambitious but enjoyable title track. It’s not an auspicious way to end the album.

Musical performances are generally very good, although Kettunen’s solo’s, as I’ve pointed out, can be tedious at times. The production doesn’t always help bring out the best in the band – it’s rather flat, and too often the melodies (particularly when played on either flute or keyboard) are drowned out by the rhythm section.

Overall, this is an enjoyable effort that certainly indicates that Overhead are a band of some promise. Despite their labels claim, they need to work a bit harder on forging their own sound, as its still a bit of a rag bag of various influences at the moment, and some tracks could do with some judicious editing. This is still a fairly good album, however, and I'd be interested to here what they come up with next.

Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10

TOM DE VAL



Samuel Jerónimo - Redra Ändra Endre De Fase
Samuel Jeronimo - Redra Andra Endre De Fase
Country of Origin:Portugal
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:thirsk II
Year of Release:2004
Time:57:46
Info:Samuel Jerónimo
Samples:-

Tracklist: Redra (32:58), Ändra (11:26), Endre De Fase (13:21)

Not sure where to start with this offering from Portuguese multi-instrumentalist Samuel Jerónimo. Compositionally speaking it could well be a masterpiece, but as a piece of listenable music - well you will have to make up your own mind. I might possibly describe Jerónimo's music as minimalistic, but as there are more notes on this album than one might find on the recorded career of many a musician, it does somewhat contradict the word minimal. Perhaps a brief overview of the album might clear up matters.

Now I have to say that the first few minutes of this CD didn't get off to a great start, with its overlong build up. 16 bars of a single marimba/xylophone sounding beat, followed by 16 bars with two beats, then three... and so on. Although different percussive sounds are gradually added it is well over three minutes before the music starts to grab your attention. What then follows a repetitive motif which I have to say conjured thoughts of an 80s era Fripp/Belew guitar line. Hypnotic indeed, and to which Jerónimo adds other percussive mallet instruments and thoughts drifted to some extent towards Tubular Bells, albeit briefly. However after seven minutes or so it did start to become tiresome. Then we have a complete change with piano taking over the proceedings. Fast, furious and complex - akin to putting several composers (Beethoven, Mozart, Greig, Mussorgsky...) in the same room and recording what came out.

Now it is not made clear (and my Portuguese knows no beginning) if Samuel Jerónimo actually plays any/all of these parts, however my feelings would suggest not and that Jerónimo's compositional skills are undertaken by PC driven software. I may be wrong and if so the man is a genius!

Moving on, and circa twenty one minutes into Redra the marimba sounds return along with other percussives. This lasts for around four and half minutes, before the piano returns once more...

So to track two, and in complete contrast the majority of Ändra is an ambient and somewhat aimless meandering piece of electronic nonsense, with a totally off the wall piano section thrown in the middle. Again the piano passage is well worked out and dynamic if somewhat incongruous.

And the final piece, Endre De Fase, which is dominated by a repetitive, but complex left hand piano movement, with Keith Emerson initially springing to mind. Although after several minutes of this ferocious playing I had visions of Keith being carried off stage, clutching his wrist in fits of pain. Certainly the most challenging track of the three and the development of the piece is subtle with the "right hand" sections being somewhat masked by the dominant bass parts.

As one who enjoys complex instrumental material I had hoped that Redra Ändra Endre De Fase might grow on me over a passage of time, sadly it did not. As all the instruments and sounds used are very precise in their timbre, it tended to make the overall performance sterile. So (for me) the main downfall of the album is that it relies on the technical aspects of the music and therefore lacks any warmth or emotion.

If the rating for this CD was based purely on Samuel Jerónimo's technical abilities as a composer and arranger then it certainly would have been much higher than the one awarded below. And although I have great admiration for what Samuel has produced here, I can't help feeling that this album would hold a far greater fascination to the keyboard player rather than for the "general" listener. So ultimately I see this CD as having limited general appeal.

Those familiar with the work of Philip Glass may find a suitable starting point to explore Redra Ändra Endre De Fase further.

Conclusion: 5 out of 10

BOB MULVEY



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