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Ricocher Special
by Remco and Samantha Schoenmakers

INTRODUCTION

Ricocher is considered one of the most promising prog bands nowadays. The Classic Rock Society has confirmed this by awarding Ricocher the award for "best newcomer" last year, as a recognition of their first album Quest For The Heartland. Now they present their full length album Cathedral of Emotions.

Hailing from the South of The Netherlands, we as the Dutch Progressive Rock Page are pleased to bring our countrymen to the focus of attention in this Special.

CD REVIEW

Country of Origin:The Netherlands
Format:CD
Record Label:Red Sea Records
Catalogue #:RED5018
Year of Release:2002
Time:59:15
Info:Ricocher
Samples:Ricocher

Tracklist: Haunted by Dreams (6:57), Child Inside (5:19), Ideals (4:24), Cathedral of Emotions (10:33), Painting (4:51), Fugitive (5:10), Live Your Life (6:25), Out of Hands (5:06), Mask of Illusions (10:24)

The music on this album is pure symphonic rock in the vein of the bigger bands of the early nineties (remember the SI label? This is an album which would have fitted perfectly in their catalogue). On the one hand the album sounds very Dutch indeed, with hints of Egdon Heath and For Absent Friends. But the most obvious references are early Pendragon and some Marillion. The compositions in themselves are not overwhelming, but are relatively easy to digest and quite pleasant, yet complex enough to be entertaining. My guess is that this album could appeal to a very broad audience, even non-sympho fans.

The keyboard work is close to Clive Nolan's style (Nolan has complemented the band), and as in any good sympho band is present on equal footing to the guitar and vocals. Only in a few tracks we can enjoy some good solo guitar work (e.g. in the opening track Child Inside, with a small Floydian solo, and in Painting, where the guitar solo is the best part of the track). The vocals remind a bit of the vocals of John Dexter Jones of Jump, who has also won a Classic Rock Society award. In terms of melody Erwin Boerenkamps' vocals are very strong. But a big minor point however is the pronunciation of the English lyrics. Not that the accent is obviously foreign, but he manages to pronounce "o's" as "a's" and vice versa, which becomes particularly irritating after a while and spoiled some of the fun of the album for me. Both bass and drums are solid but don't hit the spotlight anywhere on the album.

Now let's discuss some of the individual tracks, starting with the biggest tour-de-force on the album, the title track Cathedral of Emotions. The first thing that will strike everybody with some prog knowledge is that it is very Pendragon like. It is a long track with a couple of repeated movements and the end result is an archetypical sympho track. Some of these movements are very good, and the ending section reminded me of Landmarq in their glory days. Fugitive is one of the best tracks on the album. It is a bit more up tempo and a bit darker in mood than the other tracks. The break to the guitar solo is a bit clumsy but the solo itself is quite fine (it might have benefited of a bit more drama though), The "obligatory ballad" Live Your Live starts out tame but gets more passionate later on (fortunately) and turns out to be a good track after all. Out of Hands opens like a mix between Garden Party and Hearth of Lothian by Marillion, in terms of rhythm and keyboards even though the vocal melody is of course very different. The middle section is somewhat more complex but the chorus becomes very repetitive after a while. The album closes with Mask of Illusions which edges towards Division Bell Pink Floyd in the first section and is a nice composition in general.

I have very mixed feelings about this album. It is produced well, contains nice, truly symphonic tracks, but it lacks identity. It all sounds like the sympho bands of about 10 years back. As I stated, I got irritated by the pronunciation of the vocals. On the other hand, some of the movements are very nice indeed and can compete with the best sympho bands. I personally do not believe this album will justify a "best newcomer" award, however it does hold an absolute promise for the future, especially if the band starts developing a more personal style. If course this is extremely difficult and only the best of bands manage to do that (and didn't people compare Marillion with Genesis, IQ with Marillion etc when these bands first started?) but nowadays you cannot mistake a Pendragon track with an IQ track anymore. And they are not "best newcomer" for nothing? The artwork by Mattias Norén is quality as usual. Funny aspect of the album is that Ricocher has also "done a Marillion" (which slowly is becoming a term for albums that get financed by presales and where the names/photo's/fingerprints or whatever of those people get printed in the booklet).

Conclusion: 8- out of 10

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CD PRESENTATION


Setlist: errr, forgot to write down. But mainly a lot of tracks of the new album and some of the tracks of the first ;-)

Ricocher at the CD presentation Ricocher at the CD presentation

On Friday evening the 31th of May, my wife Samantha and I went to the small town of Deurne in the Southeast of The Netherlands to see Ricocher perform their new album live for the first time. The venue, which took us a while to find, called Apollo turned out to be the local discotheque. The interior, however, was not half bad. It consists of several bars on different levels and has a relatively large stage with a kind of pit-like place where the audience can stand (normally this would be the dance floor).

There were three bands performing: Casual Silence, Queen of Hearts and Ricocher. Relatively in time Casual Silence started their show. It turned out to be quite nice symphonic rock, which had everything from a ballad to a more heavy rocker. I was tempted to buy their CD (it was only 5 Euro!), but it was quite crowded around the stand with merchandise.

The audience as far as I could tell, consisted of about 70 percent people who came especially for the bands, and the rest were locals who got lost. Between the performances there was enough to see, as there was also a cd selling person present and it is always fun to see what they still ask for some crap cd's I reviewed in the past for DPRP ;-).

Queen of Hearts was a bit of a disappointment. The music seemed rather monotonous in a live setting and to most people appeared nothing more but background music. It might have worked better on a warm summers night, as it was very calm and moody.

Casual Silence

Ricocher at the CD presentation

Finally at about eleven o' clock Ricocher hit the stage! They played a couple of tracks from their new album (surprise!) amongst which Fugitive, which was sung along by some members of the audience. This prompted vocalist Erwin Boerenkamps to thank the people that had bought the album through presales since these were obviously the only ones who could have heard the song before. The bandmembers were clearly enjoying themselves and Erwin made quite a show of it. After a couple of songs, they started to thank people and get them on the podium, before continuing with the second stint. At this point we were already four hours there and slowly got very tired after a hard day's work so we decided to call it a day and left. Therefore, we didn't get to see the actual presentation of the album and the remainder of the show but I bet everybody has had a great time.

Ricocher at the CD presentation Ricocher at the CD presentation

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INTERVIEW WITH ERWIN BOERENKAMPS


DPRP: You have won the award for "Best Newcomer" at the Classic Rock Society. Was that a big surprise? And what do you think was the key point for the jury?

Erwin: It was a complete surprise ! It was the first time we presented ourselves in the UK and we got instant recognition for our music.
The British audience listened breathlessly to us and despite the fact that we had some nerves when on the podium, we noticed that our interpretation of progrock was refreshing for the British audience. I think that is was most important factor for the competition: an unknown name that maturely puts down a prog sound with identity.
After the gig, the audience streamed to the merchandise-stand and to our little persons: we felt like real prog-hero's! We are invited back by the CRS for October 18, 2002.


DPRP: Did this recognition influence the creation of the new album?

Erwin: The ideas for the recording of Cathedral were there before we went to the UK. After the trip to the UK, we purely focussed on getting ready for the studio-recording. The recognition by the CRS did lead to the fact that we realized that many people were waiting for a full-length CD by Ricocher. Where the first album was purely for ourselves and for PR (trying to get our name known, trying to get gigs), this album is intended to establish our name at a bigger prog audience. So in that sense, the recognition at the CRS awards underlined our goal of delivering a super-album!


DPRP: Could you tell us something about the theme of the album?

Erwin: Although this is no concept album, and thus there is no concrete lyrical thread throughout the album, John's lyrics are filled with emotions, often negative emotions. Actually, the lyrics are related to the ones on Quest for the Heartland: people searching for themselves, while the outside world constantly puts pressure on the "being" of these persons.


DPRP: You seem to be very influenced by the symphonic rock of the early nineties (Pendragon, Landmarq, Egdon Heath etc). Are those bands your "idols" or do you get your inspiration from somewhere else?

Erwin: Every band member has his own musical background and takes that with him in his own way into our musical style. This background, however, varies from blues to rock classics. It is definitely not true that we have idols on which we base our music, it is more the reverse: because our music is being qualified as "sympho", we got in touch with the musical style of other sympho-bands, so now we can compare our music more easily with more well-known bands ourselves. Here too, there is a big difference in preferences within the band, varying from Dream Theater/Threshold to Arena/Jadis/Pendragon. Our music is music in which we, as five different individuals, feel comfortable. It is only coincidental that our music is very accessible prog rock, also for non-prog lovers.


DPRP: The artwork has been done by Mattias Norén. How did you get in touch with him?

Erwin: Through the possibilities of the Internet, John contacted Mattias. We had seen his work, and were very impressed by his style. Since a CD cover and booklet have to be the eye-opener and provide a first impression of the style and quality to the potential buyer, we thought it is important to get this aspect perfect (which also created the pressure to make the music of the same level). It should come as no surprise that we are extremely satisfied with Mattias' work: in reviews Mattias gets a lot of credits. We too are very satisfied with Cathedral, where it is very nice to read reviews which conclude that with this CD we really have conquered our place in the sympho-world.


DPRP: What will be the next steps (many live performances or rather more focus on studio work?)

Erwin: After the intense months of recording, mixing and our CD presentation of May 31, as well as the performance on ProgSud of June 1, we have settled back a little. Our first new song is in the process of being created however, since creating new songs is a challenge to us and keeps things interesting.
The idea is to have some nice gigs this fall and next year; we wrote a business plan as a lead to get us to a higher level and to have those things we want to focus on black on white.
We do intend to produce another CD: we are however completely dependent on good song material and of the possibility of financing our new CD; so far we financed everything ourselves. But we are very confident and still very enthusiastic.


DPRP: Your album has been financed partly by a whole group of people who had bought the album before it was released and whose names are mentioned in the booklet. Is this a tactic which you intend to use in the future as well?

Erwin:The initiative indeed paid off: people who like our music think it's nice to be mentioned in the booklet. For us it is comfortable to have a partial pre-finance on the large budget of recording a cd and it gives us some insight into the amount of people interested in Ricocher. This initiative will probably not go unnoticed and will be picked up by other bands. We run the risk that next time our fans' money has run out, but we do not exclude that we will do a similar action again.


DPRP: Thank you Erwin for your time, and good luck with the album!

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RICOCHER INFO

Erwin
Erwin Boerenkamps
lead vocals, acoustic guitar

 

Bart van Helmond
guitars, backing vocals

 
John
John van Heugten
keyboards, backing vocals

 
Maikel
Maikel van der Meer
drums

 
Niels
Niels Nijssen
bass guitar, backing vocals

 


Quest For The Heartland
Quest For The Heartland
September 2000
Cathedral Of Emotions
Cathedral Of Emotions
may 2002


  Ricocher at DPRP:
 
 
Review http://www.dprp.vuurwerk.nl/reviews/0029.htm
 


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© July 2002 - Dutch Progressive Rock Page