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2010 : VOLUME 31
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REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Solstice - Spirit
Solstice - Spirit
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD+DVD
Record Label:F2 Music
Catalogue #:201002
Year of Release:2010
Time:CD 60:05
DVD 97:51
Info:Solstice
Samples:Click here

Tracklist:

CD: Solomon’s Bridge (9:48), Sky Path West (8:23), Freedom (6:56), Flight (7:27), Oberon’s Folly (8:51), Here & Now (6:58), Spirit (11:41)

DVD: Morning Light, New Life, Sky Path West, Oberon's Folly, Ducks On The Pond, Chicken Train, Here & Now, Pete's Solo, Cheyenne, Freedom, Flight, Sacred Run, Brave New World

A band I discovered as recently as 2007 and who gave me a great deal of listening pleasure over the Christmas period that year is Solstice. It was a crash course of sorts as I was fortunate enough to receive the band's entire back catalogue courtesy of F2’s "Definitive Edition" collection. As I recall the band's future recording career was a little uncertain at the time even though they had recently reactivated themselves as a live unit. This brand new CD and bonus DVD release Spirit comes 13 years on from their last studio album Circles and appropriately marks the band's 30 years in existence.

The line-up of Andy Glass (guitar, vocals), Jenny Newman (violin, viola), Robin Phillips (bass), Steve McDaniel (keyboards) and Emma Brown (vocals) remains the same as 2002’s live album The Cropredy Set with the exception of the returning Pete Hemsley who replaces Clive Bunker on drums. It’s also the first studio album not to feature key member Marc Elton who along with Glass had been with the band since its inception in 1980. For those unfamiliar with Solstice they favour melodic prog with folky elements and as a starting point I would cite Camel, Mostly Autumn and Iona although such references fail to paint a full picture. Under Glass’ leadership Solstice continue to pursue their individual sound particularly with this latest release.

The opening song Solomon’s Bridge reveals a new and very fresh sounding Solstice. A deceptively tranquil intro of acoustic guitar and haunting violin erupts into a strident riff that has a cool American jazz (although not overtly so) vibe about it. Glass’ guitar dominates as it does throughout much of the album changing from the powerhouse tone that occupies the lengthy instrumental first half to a mellower picking style when Emma’s voice eventually enters several minutes into the song. Here, as it does elsewhere her beautiful but confident voice acts like a sixth instrument rather than providing the obvious focal point for the songs.

Sky Path West is in a more traditional Solstice vein (to begin with that is) with Glass’ familiar and searing guitar lines to the fore. The crystalline production benefits Hemsley’s crisp drum sound which alongside Phillips’ prominent bass lines provides a perfectly weighted anchor for the gutsy guitar solo that follows. Given his muscular playing here and elsewhere on the album I can’t help thinking that Glass has been working out since the last release whilst listening to American exponents like Carlos Santana on his headphones.

And speaking of Americans, it’s the extremist rant of charismatic war lobbyist Adam Kokesh that bookends the next track Freedom. The song itself apparently started life following the bands 1993 second album New Life and it sounds like it with a compelling massed chanting of the songs title providing the main hook. Tribal percussion, low whistles (courtesy of keys I think) and lively fiddle work add to the songs ethnic feel.

The appropriately titled Flight sees soaring guitar and violin trading places to deliver the melodic main theme whilst Emma’s singing is more strident than usual. The main thrust of the song which culminates in a wordless a cappella section is clearly inspired by Fragile era Yes but the sprawling, metallic guitar led assault that follows is from a different place altogether.

One of the albums most rewarding pieces Oberon’s Folly is in two distinct parts with the first being a reworking of the Bronski Beat song Puit d’ Amour. I’m unfamiliar with the original but in the hands of Solstice it’s a moving and ethereal Celtic ballad. Gradually it builds into the wonderfully named Lady Muck, a rousing instrumental reel written by Jenny Newman whose stirring fiddle playing and Glass’ crunching power chords provide an unlikely but effective combination. Overall, for me Oberon’s Folly echoes the prog-folk aspirations of Iona.

From the outset, Here & Now takes the band into unchartered prog metal territory with monumental chunks of heavy weight guitar offset by Jenny and Steve’s Middle Eastern backdrop and another strong vocal from Emma. She sounds almost siren like as the memorable choral refrain cuts through the turmoil created by the other five band members.

The concluding title song Spirit comes as a pleasant respite following the onslaught of the previous track. This is a fully worked version of a demo that appeared on the bonus disc edition of New Life. I remarked in my 2007 review that it had a breezy jazz feel typical of the kind of thing that Sade would record. Whilst the leisurely pace is retained, here it comes across as a sophisticated rock ballad with gorgeous harmonies, electric sitar embellishments (ala Steve Howe) and some very tasteful synth lines from McDaniel. It’s rounded off by Glass’ bluesy guitar workout which for my money goes on a tad longer than is necessary.

Complementing the CD is a live DVD which comprises the full set recorded at the Pitz Club, Milton Keynes on the 24th July 2009. Camerawork and picture quality is not the most pristine but it’s still highly watchable with sound, songs and performances of the highest order. The concert takes in material dating back to the debut Silent Dance album along with a healthy selection from Spirit, a testimony to Glass’ faith in the new songs. Unsurprisingly he remains in firm control throughout with guitar prominently featured.

Given the quality of the previous Solstice albums I was reasonably confident a DPRP recommendation was on the cards even before I’d heard a single note of Spirit. First class production, tunes, arrangements and performances it’s all here, so yes a recommendation is assured. I do have one reservation however. For me the histrionic guitar flights are a tad self indulgent at times to the point where it seemed like I was listening to a solo guitar album rather than a band effort. That being said, it does at least demonstrate the excellence of Glass’ musicianship and proves that he can hold his own with many of rock’s so called guitar heroes.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

GEOFF FEAKES



Noetics - Delayed Back
Noetics - Delayed Back
Country of Origin:Germany
Format:CD
Record Label:State Of The
Art Records
Catalogue #:SOTA01
Year of Release:2010
Time:54:33
Info:Noetics
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Peninsolar (5:53), Vibrant Hydrant (4:39), Rumpankong (5:37), Rotterdub (4:19), Der Heikle Mann (5:01), Dschungelgelot (5:17), Nukular (3:36), Schinkenwurst Dub (6:41), Grant Lump and the Elevator (3:31), Santa Grinse (3:52), Mahdrescher (5:35)

Noetics have released their third album an instrumental called Delayed Back which has allowed them to focus on their highly proficient musicianship. This is an album of diversity with tones of familiarity running through it. On initial listening Ozric Tentacles immediately sprang to mind, and is probably the best reference point, as Noetics mix up psychedelic, new age, jazz, dub, rock, electro, drum & bass and trance into very proficient and excellent soundscapes.

Christian Schmidt (percussions), Christoph Majewski (guitar, synths), Ole Ohlendorf (keyboards, synths), Arne Borchard (bass), Patrick Wurster (drums), are Noetics. The band has worked together for over ten years which has been time well spent judging by the quality of this release. With the exclusion of a vocalist, it has allowed the band to really focus on the job at hand. I found the album to be slightly unique serving two purposes; when played quiet it’s very soothing and relaxing but crank up the volume and I guarantee you will be moving and grooving. The production value of this album is fantastic with all instrumentals being sharp, clear and crisp allowing you to pick out each instrument.

Peninsolar contains some very interesting didgeridoo playing which is complimented by some exquisite synth passages, echo guitar work and precise drumming, giving the whole affair a world music feel with rock over tones. The rock guitar tones don’t stray to far for Vibrant Hydrant which is a more rock orientated track driven by the bass line supplied by Borchard, which is both powerful and commanding. Rumpankong has a dub, reggae feel with percussion galore, repeating guitar phrasing and beautiful melody. Rotterdub moves in the same arena as Rumpankong with a few more experimental approached tones, being more bass driven. Der Heikle Mann moves back to a rock approach with Wurster defining the pace of the track, Majewski’s guitar interjections are perfectly placed including some really nice rhythm work which cleverly layers a jazz tone into the passage. Dschungelgelot leads off with Borchard’s rhythmic bass line and Majewski adding more of those jazz tones and Schmidt supplying copious amounts of percussions. This is a very subtle but strong track which builds throughout its journey being a particular favourite of mine. Nukular has an electro approach with the synth and drum passages intertwining reminiscent of Tangerine Dream. Schinkenwurst Dub has the dub / reggae groove played throughout which just ambles along at its own laid back pace with no real sense of urgency. Grant Lump And The Elevator is a real bag of mixed mashing being a good example of how all the styles work together as a team. I love the pulsating drum and bass work here which gives it character. Santa Grinse soundscapes are rhythmic in approach with a stunning drum lead and subtle percussion work. Majewski and Borchard again add real depth and character to this track with Majewski weaving his phrasing around Borchard’s bass line and Wurster’ drum patterns are written all over it. Mahdrescher closes the album, climaxing from the foundations of what has been created before. It is experimental in approach with strong tones of dub, reggae and psychedelic trance thrown in for good measure.

To use an analogy listening to this album is like baking a cake. The main ingredient having been added and mixed, the baker then adds that something special that gives it substance, flavour and texture. You know what cake it is, but with every bite you experience something slightly different with no two bites being the same. The hardest thing to do with this album is to define singularly. This is a layered and cleverly produced album which has had a lot of thought put into it. You will hear many differing styles thrown in for good measure in one passage alone, which you wouldn’t expect to work, but does! This is a very rewarding album to listen to.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

JOHN O'BOYLE



Cosmic Trip Machine - Vampyros Roussos
Cosmic Trip Machine - Vampyros Roussos
Country of Origin:Belgium
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2009
Time:52:45
Info:Cosmic Trip
Machine
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Vampyres [Begin] (3:05), Psychedelic Twist (1:44), There’s No Sympathy For The Devil (3:03), Welcome To Roussos (1:42), [Not] Very High (3:44), Evil Preacher (2:04), White Lodge (1:48), Under The Control Of Evil (2:00), It Feels Good (4:07), Revelation Evil (1:52), Forest/Lost Island (4:35), Zorba Goes To Hell (3:00), Cerbere (3:17), Black Lodge (2:27), Flashback/Tropicalian Gnome (5:04), This Is Jazzy Isn’t It? (2:50), The Dirty Pursuit (3:04), Vampyres [End] (3:18)

If this band’s name, Cosmic Trip Machine, conjures up psychedelic images for you, you’re on the right trip. The Belgian psychedelic duo is made up of the simply named Will Z. and Majnun, and their sophomore release Vampyros Roussos is a concept album heralded on the band’s website as (if you can’t figure it out by the CD’s title) “an imaginary 70’s psychedelic erotic horror soundtrack and rock opera” with inspiration coming from various horror and vampire related films. On the CD, Majnun plays the role of “The Count”, and Will Z. is “Jimmy”. The website for Record Heaven, who along with Clearspot is distributing the independent CD, indicates that the concept centers on Jimmy and his efforts to run away from “Fuzzy”, a police inspector, and his partner “Funky C”. The CD’s modest packaging and the band’s website and Myspace are not specific as to how the roles of The Count, Jimmy and the others are “acted”, whether it is through songwriting, vocals, and/or the generous use of sampling on the CD (see below).

Prog purists may be saying “Just because it’s a concept album, doesn’t mean it’s prog”. And this CD is not prog in the traditional sense, but it is psychedlia, a genre reviewed by DPRP frequently and that which could be considered a sub-genre or offshoot of prog.

Whether a concept album works in a psychedelic context is something else of debate altogether. The 18 track CD is full of catchy psychedelic hooks that are so infectious they tend to distract from the CD’s concept. The somewhat lethargic and unintelligible vocals are augmented in places by the aforementioned spoken word samples which lean to The Dark Side Of The Moon as a blueprint. Amidst all the hooky psych freaking you get boot-kicking go-go dance (Psychedelic Twist), stoner elements (Black Lodge), and even a bit of Chicago blues shuffle (Vampyres [End]). The instrumentation is varied, with appearances by eastern percussion, squiggly electronics, backwards tape effects, some Theremin style elements, and last but not least, the obligatory sitar and organ. All are played very well, but the band’s site and Myspace do not credit instruments to the individual musicians.

The packaging of the promo CD I got was pretty minimal, simply a white sheet of paper with black text.

Festival appearances and the selling out of a seventy-unit run of Vampyros Roussos in cassette form lead me to believe that there are fans of the band who apparently “get” what they are all about. I can’t say that I’m one of them, but I would find myself returning to this CD from time to time in the future, and, as I would advise the band to do with future releases, forgetting about the concept.

Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10

JIM CORCORAN



Nurkostam - C
Nurkostam - C
Country of Origin:Finland
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2009
Time:28:48
Info:Nurkostam
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: The Pearl Song (4:51), Gone (2:30), Prison 4 (3:31), MyPlanet (2:47), Crawlin' Nation (4:12), Intentionally Left Blank (0:40), Sio Lee (3:43), Shrine (0:30), Darkmoor (6:01)

It is not all that long since we featured reviews of the first two albums by Finnish band Nurkostam, III Of Dreamers and XIII. In those reviews I mentioned that the band were already finishing a new release, C (which if previous album titles have any bearing could mean 100 or if the artwork is of any relevance may be an abbreviation for cent). Actually, I rather think the whole album is a concept judging from the lyrics. Like their first release C is another mini album clocking in at less than 30 minutes. It also displays a rather dramatic change (or advance?) from the previous two releases. Opener The Pearl Song is downright funky with an energetic and sprightly bass line that dismayed me on first hearing but I have subsequently come to appreciate the groove that it gets into. With some nice flourishes on electric piano and some weird synth effects the song has a lot of crossover potential (whatever that may mean!). Only two other titles on this release break the four minute mark and they, along with the opening number, provide the highlights of the album. Crawlin' Nation is the gentlest of the three with a plaintive opening of acoustic guitar and electric piano which, in the second verse, is accompanied by understated synths which gradually gain more prominence as drums and electric guitar are introduced. Well sung and a fine melody, we like this one! Last track on the album Darkmoor, features a different vocalist who does not possess as smooth a delivery as on Crawlin' Nation. However, musically, this is the proggiest of tracks with a veiled undertone; instruments are used sparingly which adds to the somewhat ominous nature of the music. Again, a substantial piece of music that enhances the abilities of the band.

As those three tracks constitute the bulk of the running time, it leaves six tracks to fill the remaining 13 minutes! Two are very short instrumental pieces, of which Intentionally Left Blank is an electric piano solo into to Sio Lee which is as lovely as the title is clever. Unlike the 30-second Shrine which is a rather pointless treated vocal piece. The four other songs are also a mixed bag. Gone is another of the more acoustic-based numbers and is very atmospheric, with nice use of expansive keyboards towards the end. Prison 4 starts well, again with acoustic guitar, however, after 'Senegal' delivers his message, things become rather more discordant and fractured and the original momentum in the song is lost. MyPlanet is based around communications between a space craft and mission control which can get a bit annoying particularly at the brief song itself is rather enjoyable with the band's characteristic electric piano, breathy vocals and acoustic guitar sound. Maybe it would fit in better as part of a soundtrack to a film or if the concept was better explained, but as it stands the excessive talking and slightly superfluous drumbeat distract from the actual song. Finally, the aforementioned Sio Lee, which again adds a contemporary edge to the progressive basis of the song.

As with the band's earlier efforts, C does improve with repeated listening and benefits from being heard on a decent sound system. This young group certainly have lots of ideas but have yet to nail things down in a solidly impressive release. But having said that, the highlights on this release suggest that they could be capable of something very impressive.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

MARK HUGHES



Kalle's World Tour - El Baterista Loco
Kalle's World Tour - El Baterista Loco
Country of Origin:Denmark
Format:CD+DVD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:KWT888
Year of Release:2010
Time:40:17
Info:Kalle's World Tour
Samples:Click here

Tracklist:

CD: Start 2010 (4:35), The World Tour (3:37), I Can’t Leave (3:54), Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (3:10), The Curse (3:43), Black Hole Sun (4:34), Time Is Running (3:45), Die Schwarze Seite (2:19), Life Is What You Make It (3:36), Cancer 2010 (3:47), My Usual Face (3:16)

DVD: Honky Tonk Funk, A Session With My Therapist, Giving Bird, METRO, My First Live Performance, My Danish Collection Pt.1, Pixie Pop, Saturday 24/10 2009, Seren Frost And Kalle Mathiesen In Tarmshuffle, My Danish Collection Pt.2, The Beginning

“This is the story of Vinnie Colaiuta and Barbara Streisands secret love child”.

Kalle Mathiesen (drums, bass, vocals, keyboards and guitar), Marie Ingerslev (choir), Henrik Nedergaard (bassoon), Jesper Edvarsen (bass track 10), Anders Westfall (guitar track 10), Rasmus Kjaerdsgaard (saxophone track 10).

Alright folks we all know that there is a very fine line between insanity and genius right? Kalle's World Tour, (aka Kalle Mathiesen), has released what I believe to be his ninth album El Baterista Loco that cavorts with this fine line, all brash and brazen. Here is an avant garde, world music, jazz oriented prog artist. Wow that’s a mouth full. Kalles World Tour has been previously reviewed here in where his 2005 album Start received 8 out of 10. So how does that relate to this 2010 release.

Kalle comes across as a modern European version of Buddy Rich and Frank Zappa, with his unusual passage work and presentation, which is quite interesting in both sound and approach. Albums that are released by drummers are usually an acquired taste, which don’t usually translate well, as drumming should be an audio visual experience. Kalle is an artist and drummer who likes to challenge, offering uniqueness, try Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun, The Police’s Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic and Talk Talk’s Life’s What You Make It which are all very interesting interpretations, which he has made both innovative but more importantly his own.

Start 2010 sounds like a Frank Zappa composition with a vocal approach which loosely reminded me of Roine Stolt, retaining a commercial sound to it, but still being intricate with its time changes. The World Tour opens with some interesting keyboard tones along with a repetitive bass passage and strong drumming. Kalle’ vocal work is strong with good diction and adds real character. I Can’t Leave Again sounds like a rockier version of Zappa with its interesting word play and metre.

The Curse starts off as a basic sounding rock track, before Kalle becomes inventive especially with his drumming. The song features madcap lyrics that are nonsense, but work really well. Time Is Running opens with wind instrumentation sounding Zappa–esque and for my money is the best track on the album as it is allowed to breathe. Die Schwarze Seite, (translates to The Black Page), which is another madcap Frank Zappa homage although it doesn’t have the old Terry Bozzio panache. Cancer 2010 is a drum driven track which has Kalle working his magic all over, being a bit of a strange approach to the subject. My Usual Face closes the album with another Zappa sounding sound bite which is a bit dull really.

Kalle has been heavily influenced by Vinnie Colaiuta, Frank Zappa and Buddy Rich. The Colaiuta / Zappa connection goes hand in hand really, as Colaiuta played on Joe’s Garage, Shut Up ‘N Play Your Guitar, Tinsel Town Rebellion and Man From Utopia albums, the drumming and song structure are very much in that style. (For reference Colaiuta also played for Sting).

The visuals on the DVD really allows the viewer to be amazed at how he constructs his songs, using foot pedals, layering his drumming adding bass and vocals. Before I knew it the show was over. The DVD is a definite must see, but I’m not too sure as to how many times you would go back to it?

This is not a ground breaking album but Kalle's unique style is very interesting to watch especially in the live arena. He is definitely a character who does like to perform; well basically anywhere people will listen really, and when I say he plays the house he plays the house. I just loved his choices of locations, his madcap approach and how he kept snapping the drumstick by hand into smaller pieces and continuing to play and more importantly how he kept everyone’s attention. Now’s there’s not many drummers out there that can do that?

Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10

JOHN O'BOYLE



Iron Kim Style - Iron Kim Style
Iron Kim Style - Iron Kim Style
Country of Origin:USA
Format:CD
Record Label:MoonJune
Records
Catalogue #:MJR031
Year of Release:2010
Time:56:01
Info:Iron Kim Style
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Mean Streets Of Pyongyang (10:33), Gibberish Falter (4:36), Po’ Brief (6:17), Don Quixotic (7:37), Adrift (7:44), Amber Waves of Migraine (5:37), Pachinko Malice (5:10), Dreams from Our Dear Leader (3:20), Jack Out the Kims (2:34), Slouchin’ at the Savoy (2:24)

Iron Kim Style is a Seattle-based 5 piece improvisational outfit, and their eponymously titled debut release could cause debate in the jazz-rock community as to whether an entirely improvised recording is a safe venture or not. To me I would say it is.

The band, founded in the early 00’s, is made up of Dennis Rea (Moraine and a list of other credentials too numerous to mention) on six-string electric guitar, Jay Jaskot (Moraine, miniJ, and other endless credentials) on drums, Bill Jones (The Mudsharks, Clinton Fearon and The Boogie Brown Band, Plan B) on trumpet, Thaddaeus Brophy on 12-string electric guitar, and Ryan Berg (another mile-long musical resume) on bass. Credited as a “fifth columnist” is Izaak Mills, who plays bass clarinet on two tracks.

The ten-track CD is a whimsical sojourn into the many twists and turns of improvised music. The band’s name led me to expect something heavier in the style of Snarling Adjective Convention, but this would not be a commonality and I am not disappointed with the jazz-rock improv I heard when I listened to the CD.

The appropriately titled Adrift is a slow piece with minimal drum elements from Jaskot and some unadorned bass clarinet playing from Mills.

On the opening track Mean Streets Of Pyongyang, Mills’ bass clarinet boldly travels into risky improv territory, nudged along by the plaintive rhythm section of Jaskot and Berg alongside some meandering trumpet from Jones.

Gibberish Falter, which depending on your perspective could also be seen as an appropriately titled song, features some avant-noise elements, a rubbery rhythm section, and muted trumpet, all of it leaning to some crisply ironed, as it were, sheets of guitar.

Aside from briefly discussing these tracks, it would not be prudent, I believe, to do a track-by-track critique of this CD as the songs are improv-based and not conventionally composed songs. With that said I would find this CD, as I do with many improv recordings, best suitable for background music and not active critical listening.

The CD is professionally housed in a glossy gatefold package, with the track listing and credits printed on the back (no booklet).

I would say the next logical step for this band would be to release a live improv CD, as King Crimson has done with shows from their “ProjeKcts” era.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

JIM CORCORAN



In A Glass House - In A Glass House
In A Glass House - In A Glass House
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Tomato Records
Catalogue #:TAMA00001
Year of Release:2008/2010
Time:46:57
Info:In A Glass House
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Another Turn Of The Screw (7:32), The Song Of Hope (6:00), School Days (4:30), Angel (3:49), Drifting (10:32), The Dream (4:23), Pilgrims [Part One] (1:45), Pilgrims [Part Two] (8:26)

There are some very positive points to highlight about In A Glass House’s eponymous debut album: the melodic composition is very pleasing, as are the sonic textures, in particular the keyboard/synthesizer sounds. Ultimately, though, this album is let down by what is the fuggiest production I have heard for a long time: basically, this sounds like a demo tape, as though the band has only just started out and is hawking for contracts. It was disappointing, therefore, to discover that the band/project/songs have been ongoing for nearly 15 years! If this poor analogue production is anything other than as a result of a low budget, then it was not good decision making.

A UK band, In A Glass House are Mick Keirle (vocals, organ, piano, clavinet, Moog, electric piano, voiceatron and drums) and Neil Fitchew (bass and electric guitar). Guesting on guitars, from the band The Dreaming Tree is their friend Dan Jones (however, note that In A Glass House’s music is not similar to The Dreaming Tree’s). As an explanation for the fact that In A Glass House has taken such a long time to see the light of day is the fact that, whilst Keirle and Fitchew may have been running the project for a long time, they have been beset by personality problems within the context of the band. This quote of Keirle’s from the CD’s sleeve notes eloquently explains the situation: “After playing in many groups over the last few years, and many fall-outs with previous group members, I thought it was a good idea to get something constructive done”.

In A Glass House was completed and issued in 2008 but the band are re-promoting it now as they are taking on two new members, working on a “second musical statement” and taking to the stage in 2011. And so, what of the music: should they be supported in their endeavours?

Musically, there are very enjoyable moments, to the extent that only a few days ago, having heard the album only a couple of times, one of the melodies was repeating in my mind. The tempo is systematically slow, perhaps a drawback in getting a good rhythm going, although the band do succeed on this once, and the main focus is on the melodic composition, which s very good. The arrangements are what the band call “old style progressive rock”. Thinking of this, then for me, the clearest reference is to early Genesis, although the comparison suffers from the fact that early Genesis is somehow more dynamic (production/tempo issues?). A closer call might be to Swedish band Cross’s music, where both the tempo and arrangemental texture are of the same ilk. Crimson Sky are another reference call, though at the stage of development that they were at, say, four or five years ago: last year’s Misunderstood album is more polished and confident than In a Glass House.

Another Turn Of The Screw kicks off the album and, after the initial reaction to the production is over, you realise the sung melody is rather attractive. The Song Of Hope improves on that good start, the electric piano and synth arrangements being pleasant and the melody again very pretty. Keirle’s vocal is good, to the benefit of the music. Acoustic guitar is prominent during School Days, another successful number. Angel breaks the mould slightly, an instrumental, using a phrase borrowed from Genesis. Drifting is split into two movements: the first lacked the quality of melodic composition of the first three numbers and the rhythm, not helped by the slowness of the tempo, was uninteresting. No melody, no rhythm = not good; the second part is much better melodically and there is a nice sax sound in the arrangement. The Dream succeeds where the first part of Drifting fails by developing a good rhythm despite the slowness of the pace. Finally, to the last compositions: the first part of Pilgrims is a pretty, introductory piano melody, whilst the second part is similar in style to the other sung pieces, although it loses its way slightly and is not as successful as the album’s high points.

Overall, it’s an album where the music is often very enjoyable in a classic symphonic prog style but the pleasure is dampened by the systematic slowness of the tempo and the poorness of the production. As a result, it’s an album that shows promise, and should Keirle and Fitchew succeed in finding like-minded musicians to join the band, as well as some cash to invest in the project, then they may yet produce an album that is worthy of a DPRP recommendation. In answer to the question above, then, yes. Lovers of traditional symphonic prog may just want to check out the samples of In A Glass House to determine if, for them, the music highs outweigh the production lows.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

ALEX TORRES



Section A - Sacrifice
Section A - Sacrifice
Country of Origin:Sweden
Format:CD
Record Label:Lion Music
Catalogue #:LMC285
Year of Release:2010
Time:48:38
Info:Section A
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Sacrifice (3:42), Room With A View (4:46), Lionheart (4:55), Land Of The Desert Sun (6:22), Concealed In Lies (4:29), Intoxicated (4:12), Heroes (4:21), Days Of Sorrow (4:37), Danger (5:05), The City Is Falling (6:04)

Danish guitar player Torben Enevoldsen is no stranger in the prog music scene, he already has an impressive discography and like a lot of other Nordic musicians, Torben is a busy bee. Several projects run simultaneously with Section A being only one of these. Others from the very recent past are Acacia Avenue and Decoy. Aside from these project he is also working on solo material, like I already said, a regular busy bee. But for now I will concentrate on Section A. Sacrifice is the third full album by this band and once again the line up of the band changed for a third time in succession, so we might even speak of a duo with additional musicians. For the Sacrifice album the line up is: Torben (guitar, bass), Andy Engberg (vocals) our duo on all three albums so far, with Thomas Heintzelmann (drums) and collegue Lasse Finbraten (Circus Maximus) on keyboards. DPRP has reviewed their two previous releases The Seventh Sign (2003) and Parallel Lives (2006).

Sacrifice is an album in the heavy genre of prog. Sometimes I wonder, however, if one could call it prog at all as it leans very heavily in heavy metal and is generally speaking heavy metal. All the riffs and textures of the songs point me in the heavy metal direction. Yet the way Sacrifice is produced has definitely prog elements.

  • The album starts with the title track, Sacrifice. The opening is promising but soon starts off with heavy metal riffing, continuing as an Amore heavy metal song rather than a progressive rock song, not at all bad but not prog.
  • The second track Room With A View, starts as promising as the title track but this time continues slightly more prog, riffs keep coming like heavy metal, but vocally there is more happening. Enevoldsen’s guitar work is also slightly more prog-oriented. Still as a whole although slightly more prog, not really prog in it’s truest form.
  • Lionheart - again more of the same a good rockin’ song. Proggy round the edges, mostly vocally. Enevoldsen is playing real great guitar again, and Lasse Finbraten turns the song a bit more symphonic with the keyboards.
  • Land Of The Desert Sun is a well written song, good interaction between guitar and keyboards. Fast played guitar, with nicely crafted keyboard sounds accompanying, a solo by both guitar and keys as a duel. Heavy prog.
  • Concealed In Lies: Every rock album needs a ballad in some form and Concealed In Lies is the ballad on this album. In the veins of all hard rock bands, there are heavy bits, but still a ballad.
  • Intoxicated What to say about this piece of Michael Schenker Group sounding music. What MSG did way back in the 1980’s is now present on Sacrifice. A good song nevertheless.
  • Heroes: Starting like Ozzy Osbourne changing into Yngwie Malmsteen like guitar. On the whole mediocre rock with Enevoldsen showing he can play many notes per second.
  • Days Of Sorrow: Plain hard rock - think Accept or any other hard rock band. Very straight forward.
  • Danger: Again plain hard rock or heavy metal - Whitesnake springs to mind, but also Dio and Black Sabbath. Great sound, good production, good vocals.
  • The City Is Falling: This might well be the proggiest song of them all, starting with keyboards, followed by fast guitar riffs. Heavy metal singing. Again prog round the edges - a good song and great musically.

To conclude - although prog music is present here and there, more often it is not. Musically its a strong album, well crafted, but as we are a progressive rock site I cannot come up with a mark higher than 5 out of 10, simply because its not proggy enough. Although I have to say I enjoyed listening to the album.

Conclusion: 5 out of 10

GERT HULSHOF


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