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Elleven - 2015 - "Transfiction"

(61:12, Progressive Promotion Records)


1.  Try 8:17
2.  Not the One 7:03
3.  Sakura Tree 7:08
4.  Blurry Road 8:09
5.  Anyway 6:12
6.  Reproduction 8:18
7.  Dust and Light 11:11
8.  Losing TRacks 4:54


Armin Riemer  keyboards 
Carsten Hutter  guitars 
Herry Rubarth  drums 
Roger Weitz  bass 
Julia Graff  vocals; guitars

Prolusion. The German band ELLEVEN was initially formed in 2001 as a new progressive rock project by former Chandelier members Tom Jarzina and Stephan Scholz alongside vocalist Julia Graff. The line-up has altered a bit since then, however, and today Graff is the sole member left of the formative trio. "Transfiction" is their second album, and was released by the German label Progressive Promotion Records in the fall of 2015.

Analysis. Elleven describes their music as progressive pop, and while I personally don't find that description to be totally accurate, it is rather clear that this isn't the band to seek out if you are fond of the more daring and experimental bands in the progressive rock circuit. At least to some extent I'd probably argue that Elleven fits better inside a neo-progressive rock context, and then inside the more accessible part of that particular style of music at that. Fairly elegant arrangements are a key feature throughout, alongside the often conventional manner of blending calm and careful sequences with passages sporting a firmer and harder general sound and expression. Rarely in a non-appealing manner on both sides, and the band doesn't seek out any extremes on either of those contrasting arrangements. Safe and sound is probably a fitting description, and this is a package that, in general, doesn't come with all that many surprises. Careful plucked and unobtrusive guitars combine well with careful, smooth keyboard and organ textures for the calmer passages, while darker, careful and firm guitar riffs combine with more expressive keyboard details and organ movements when the band explores the harder aspects of their style. Emotionally laden guitar soloing of the kind that should sound familiar to fans of Rothery, Latimer and Gilmour is a feature throughout. The more careful parts of the band's material does have similarities to the Fish-era Marillion, and when venturing out into the more distinct rock-based sequences comparisons can be made to the likes of both Pendragon and Porcupine Tree. Personally I found the songs with a closer resemblance to the latter to be the most inspired, at times coming across as rather similar to the French band Delusion Squared. Which is a good thing in my book. The lead vocals of Graff is the obvious element that leads to the latter comparison, and her vocal style is an ingredient that may be ever so slightly divisive. She has a fine voice, splendid control and a higher quality of articulation than most bands with a non-English vocalist I come across. But she does have a particular kind of delivery, often soft, dream-like and ethereal that, I suspect, won't hit home with those who prefer vocalists that opt for a powerful, emotionally laden delivery rather than the often delicate and tender voice of Graff.

Conclusion. As one would expect from a band with historical ties to the German neo-progressive band Chandelier, their chosen sound and style is one that, by and large, will fall in under the neo-progressive aspect of progressive rock. In this case a rather accessible variety of that kind of music, with a few nods in the direction of a band like Porcupine Tree as additional flavoring, and with a distinct, female lead vocalist as a core trait throughout. This is first and foremost a band and an album that, I suspect, will find it's strongest appeal among those with an interest in the more accessible aspects of neo-progressive rock, however, and comes recommended to that particular audience.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: June 6, 2016
The Rating Room

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