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(30:07, Rebel Uke)
TRACK LIST: 1. Without You by My Side 4:15 2. But in This Changing House 5:28 3. The Greatest of Them All 6:19 4. On the Beach 9:08 5. Reckless 4:57 LINEUP: John Turpin - vocals, guitars, keyboards Paul Fligg - drums Daneo Duran - bass
Prolusion. UK band BUGENHAGEN was formed in 2015, initially as a Pink Floyd cover band, but it didn't take them all that long to start creating original material and transform into what music aficionados would describe as a proper band unit. "Bu:gen'heigen" is their debut album, and was released through the label Rebel Uke, which presumably is the band's own imprint.
Analysis. While Bugenhagen cites a fair few artists influential to them, at least as far as this debut albums is concerned I rather gather that it is the neo-progressive bands on the list that have been most profound in terms of direct sources of inspiration, and then the more mainstream oriented among them at that. At least in my opinion, that is the trademark feature of this album. Just about all of the songs feature several passages with a softer, ballad-oriented expression, where wandering gentle guitars of various kinds supports the lead vocals, with careful rhythms in support below. At times with a soft keyboard texture or delicate piano details as supplemental details. Explored in sort of a mid 80's very gentle neo-progressive manner. The chorus sections and instrumental interludes gives room for more expressive arrangements, as harder guitar riffs and more majestic or layered soft keyboard arrangements will appear, as well as atmospheric laden guitar solo runs and the occasional spirited keyboard driven solo. But also the interludes and transitions will take on a gentler, atmospheric laden arrangement now and then. The band also toss in some elements from mainstream rock here and there, most profoundly so on concluding cut Reckless. The vocals of Turpin is a high point throughout, his careful melodic delivery fitting these landscapes very well, but otherwise the compositions themselves doesn't really manage to excite me. Fans of the gentler art of neo-progressive rock will most likely cherish this, and there's good reason to suspect that this is a band with material that should interest many also beyond a progressive rock oriented audience, but for my personal taste in music this album is more of a well made production but lacking that extra bit of undefinable magic. With one exception that is. Second cut But in This Changing House, and then mainly due to the circulating synth motif in the first half or so of this song that gives it something of a Porcupine Tree tinged flavor, an addition that for me elevated the total experience of this song.
Conclusion. While Bugenhagen as of 2016 doesn't really manage to excite me personally, their material is of the kind and variety that has a rather broad potential reach, and given the right exposure they might very well be able to build up a strong fanbase. Those with a taste for the gentler aspects of mid 80's neo-progressive rock comes across as the main audience for this album, as well as mainstream rock fans with a taste for gentle to ballad oriented rock music with sophisticated features.
Progmessor: December 26th, 2017
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