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TRACK LIST: 1. ELPO 2:35 2. Influenza 5:26 3. Smaller Wooden Frog 4:39 4. Dead Play Awake 6:47 5. Walk Away 3:05 6. Seems So Real 4:31 7. Nat Nayah 5:43 8. Sons of Anakim 3:58 9. Nonchalant 7:34 LINEUP: Ed Bernhard – guitars, mandolin; violin; vocals Peter Murray – bass; vocals William Hare – keyboards Troy Feener – drums Phil Naro – vocals
Prolusion. The Canadian band DRUCKFARBEN has a history going back 25 or so years, when a handful of schoolmates with a deeper than average interest in music promised each other that at some point in time they should form a band, and that the mysterious word Druckfarben they had seen on some barrels was to be the band name. Fast forward to 2008 and the friends have all become seasoned musicians. They form their band, decide that their main desire with this project is to write and perform their own music and get going from there. And in the fall of 2011 they have their self-titled debut album ready for launch.
Analysis. After giving this initial production by this seasoned Canadian fivesome a few spins, one detail will stand out from the rest straight away: the lead vocals, courtesy of Phil Naro. Not only does he have a voice with a similar tonal range to Jon Anderson, but he has developed both a similar delivery and similar mannerisms to boot. The almost whimsical telltale vocal wanderings you encounter on a majority of Yes albums have been incorporated into Druckfarben as well, almost to the point of being a carbon copy. And with plenty of harmony vocals backing up Naro's vocals that also stays pretty close to what we're sued to hear from Yes, we have a distinct association to this band as a core feature of Druckfarben. That guitarist Bernard isn't a stranger to guitar soloing Steve Howe style obviously adds a certain emphasis to this trait. But on opening instrumental ELPO we do get to hear traces of another of the giants of the 70's with dramatic, powerful organ at the core of the proceedings, and later on organ and guitar interactions referencing both Genesis and Kansas is just as much a part of the proceedings too. And when Druckfarben shifts towards a less quirky, ballad-oriented mood for the second part of this disc, you might as well look through a list of 70's pomp rock and AOR acts and start checking them as various details are used and utilized, yet still with that distinct presence of Yes, due to the aforementioned vocals more than anything else. Inspecting this album on a deeper level reveals a few more intriguing details. That guitarist Bernard tends to incorporate minor and a few major details with a nod in the direction of Alex Lifeson, for instance, and a clever combination of surging AOR oriented hard rock with delicate and quirky themes that should find recognition by fans of Gentle Giant on Sons of Anakim towards the end of this disc as two of many traits avid music fans might or might not enjoy.What is pretty crystal clear is that Druckfarben is a band that celebrates 70's rock music with style and a certain panache, and that it seems they've had a jolly good time when adding in minor and major nods alike to lesser and better known artists from what many refer to as the golden decade of rock music. Personally I found this album to be a charming encounter, a professionally made production planned, performed and executed by seasoned musicians. I did find the vocal parts to be slightly off in places however, as for all the similarities to Yes and Jon Anderson in that department Druckfarben's lead and backing vocalists aren't quite as good as the originals, especially in the compositions that instrumentally and structurally appear to draw their main inspirations from bands of a markedly different character than Yes.
Conclusion. Retro-oriented progressive rock and hard rock with a firm base in the 70's is what Druckfarben presentsand explores on their self-titled debut album, a disc filled with a multitude of references, but perhaps dominated more than anything else with a Yes coloration due to the distinct lead vocals and vocal arrangements in general. A fine disc to be sought out by those who have the opinion that the best music was made in the 1970's, and a production that merits an inspection by those who generally find music from this decade to be charming in general and in particular by those who have a strong affection for the music of Yes and Jon Anderson.
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