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Bill Berends - 1988 - "Life Cycle"

(25:51; Benvalia Music [2016 Edition])


Back in the Nineties I became aware of an American band called Mastermind which I soon fell in love with. Based around multi-instrumentalist Bill Berends and his drumming brother Rich, they released a whole series of albums and even came over to Europe and I was fortunate enough to see them at The Orange playing with GLD and Ars Nova. Fast forward many years and Bill and I got in touch again through Facebook, and while I moved to New Zealand, Bill has located to Brazil (where he has just started a new line-up of Mastermind – new album coming soon!). One day we were talking about the old days, and he asked me what Mastermind material I felt I might be missing from my collection, and he then sent me a zip file. Included within the albums was this release, which was originally issued on cassette back in 1988 and is now available through Bandcamp. This was a total surprise to me as I wasn’t aware of its existence, and what surprised me even more is that this is mostly new age electronica with hardly a guitar in sight! For me Bill’s music has always been based around the guitar first and foremost, with real songs as opposed to “just” instrumentals, and when he allows himself to rip it up as he does on the title cut this 26 minute long, 6 track EP, becomes something quite special indeed. However, for the most part Bill seems content to doodle around on keyboards, and the result is something which shows promise with some interesting ideas, but little in the way of anything which really stands out. It feels like the sort of material often produced by the likes of Soniq Theater which has some elements of Keith Emerson, but in a more melodic and laid back style with little of the bombast. But, to my ears given that this is only $5 it’s worth getting for any Mastermind fans as it shows Bill starting to get his ideas up to speed, and when he allows himself to bring his guitar into the mix it becomes something quite different indeed, and something I have really enjoyed. Just two years after this and Mastermind released their debut album, ‘Volume One’, a very different beast indeed.

Progtector: January 2020

Related Links:

Bill Berends Benvalia Music


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