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Eyesberg - 2015 - "Blue"

(58:21, Progressive Promotion Records)


*****
                 
TRACK LIST:

1.  Child's Play 4:34
2.  Epitaph 5:25
3.  Closed Until the Resurrection 6:35
4.  Winter Gone 5:06
5.  Inquisitive 3:32
6.  Feed Yourself 8:23
7.  4-2-F 1:25
8.  Faces on My Wall 5:22
9.  Porcelain 3:33
10. If I Told You the Truth 5:46
11. S II 3:07
12. Detachment and Replacement 5:33

LINEUP:

Georg Alfter  guitar; bass
Malcolm Shuttleworth  vocals 
Norbert Podien  keyboards, programming; vocals
With:
Ulf Jacobs  drums 

Prolusion. The German band EYESBERG was originally active from the late 70s until the early 80s, but without ever recording any material in their initial phase of existence. A few years back the band was resurrected, and from what I understand, their belated debut album "Blue", released through Progressive Promotion Records, primarily consists of material from the band's initial phase some 30 odd years ago.

Analysis. While this may hardly be all that surprising, the compositions on this album will, generally speaking, come across as slightly derivative. Not in a truly negative understanding of the word it's more a case of the general sound and style explored being more than vaguely familiar, but while perhaps lacking a few nuts and bolts in the originality department, this is a band that counters those details quite nicely with lots of charm and good craftsmanship. As for the obligatory reference to influential artists that are called for with this description, Genesis is the case this time around, perhaps with a slight side serving of Marillion. As Genesis is a band that doesn't have all that much of a uniform style, I should probably point out that it's the Phil Collins era of the band that is the main association for me throughout this production. Vocalist Shuttleworth has a slight touch of Peter Gabriel to his vocal style, but his tone is more set in Phil Collins territory, and on occasion he uses phrasings and sounds that also point in the direction of Fish, adding a slight touch of Marillion flavor to the proceedings. The compositions are fairly brief throughout, and revolve around arrangements where vintage-sounding keyboards are used extensively, with a liberal amount of organ and Mellotron thrown in for good measure. These arrangements generally aren't all that complex, but harmony-driven constructions with a rich and deep sound alternating with more playful, uplifting details, used both as a dominating trait in their own right, as more careful supplements to the guitar, as well as in close and mostly harmonic interaction with the guitar. The latter most often with a more careful delivery, alternating mainly between wandering light-toned motifs, dampened firm riffs and mournful, gentle guitar soloing, with some darker riffs used to add depth and a richer sound on set occasions. The songs are fairly easy on the ears, the shortest dominated by vocal sequences with less room for instrumental sections, while the longer ones add some elegant solo sequences to the proceedings, with keyboards, organ and guitars alternating as the lead instrument. The shorter tracks tend to be tight and uplifting, the longer ones slower and with more of a melancholic touch, the latter ones also mainly the ones incorporating elements of a slightly darker nature. The songs are all charming though, familiar in sound and style, but explored and executed by musicians who appears to have a truly good time recording this material. The last couple of tracks don't quite manage to sway me though. S II and Detachment and Replacement sway away from the direction explored earlier on, adding subtly more of a hard rock basis to the style and with keyboards that, to my mind, had more of an 80s Eloy sound to them. A combination that doesn't quite manage to convince me, and a context where I thought Shuttleworth's vocals wasn't a natural fit as well.

Conclusion. A few late tracks aside, "Blue" comes across as a charming take on the more accessible side of Genesis sometime around 1980, with compositions that combine accessible features and a progressive rock-oriented approach in an elegant and keyboards-dominated manner, complete with a lead vocalist with a voice and tone reminding of Phil Collins. As such an album that those with a taste for Genesis as they appeared sometime around 1980 might want to investigate.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: August 6, 2015
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Progressive Promotion Records
Eyesberg


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