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TRACK LIST: 1. Hope Is a Thing with Feathers 3:12 2. Alone 5:13 3. Sylvester's Dying Bed 6:08 4. Neither Far Away Nor in Deep 4:44 5. The Bells 9:59 6. It Was Not Death, for I Stood Up 2:21 7. Maggie and Milly and Molly and May 5:11 8. Railroad Avenue 5:41 9. Haunted House 8:10 10. An Opium Fantasy 6:30 11. (Uncredited track) 4:34 LINEUP: Dirk Radloff - all instruments Chris - vocals
Prolusion. German venture HEARTSCORE is the creative vehicle of German composer and musician Dirk Radloff, and for the past 15 years he has released music under this moniker at regular intervals. Six studio albums have been made available so far, and 2016's self-titled "Heartscore" is the most recent of these, a production that was issued through German label Indigoteam.
Analysis. Heartscore has been one of those projects that I never really warmed up to for some reason or other, but a key detail for me in that context have always been the vocals. On this album, Radloff is joined by vocalist Chris, who has a fine, powerful voice, slightly raspy too, and he is a fine provider of emotions in a manner not too far removed from the Joe Cocker's of this world. As the lyrics on this album are all poems, mainly well known poems or poetry written by well known poets, having a vocalist onboard that excel in conveying big emotions is most certainly a positive aspect. While many artists tends to hone in on a specific style, Radloff's Heartscore have rarely been adhering to that philosophy. If there is a red thread here, then it is that the music has a tendency to be quirky, feature angular elements to a greater extent than harmonic ones, and that quite a few of the compositions comes with a touch of the avant to them. This latter aspect at least partially due to the lyrics I guess, as they need to be phrased in a certain way also when conveyed by singing rather than talking. The music itself is a bit all over the place. We have creations that nod back towards the classic era progressive rock in general and bands like King Crimson and Gentle Giant in particular, some cuts that have more of a chamber rock feel to the, a couple of tracks may well be described more inside a brass rock context, others close in more on a hard rock overall expression. The lead vocals and vocal style is the strongest identity mark throughout, and while Chris is a good vocalist the mode of delivery, at least partially forced due to the type of lyrics conveyed, will be an acquired taste. The music and total scope of the compositions also have a tendency to be of that nature. While perhaps not all that challenging as such there is an avant sheen to most of the material here, a tendency that makes this album bit more restricted in overall reach. In my book this is still a much better production that the previous ones I've encountered by this German project, and this is a production I can well see will have an appeal if geared towards the right audience.
Conclusion. The long ongoing German studio project Heartscore has stepped up the quality ladder with the sixth album "Heartscore". A production that shies away from all genre conventions, and explore a wide palette of music mainly inside the progressive rock realm. The use of poems as lyrics gives the music in general and the vocals in particular a special and peculiar vibe that won't have a broad reach I suspect. But for those who enjoy the powerful, strong vocals delivered in the manner they are here, set to material that has a subtle avant approach to multiple subsection of progressive rock, this is the kind of album that might well reappear in those people's forgotten jewels list of music later on. If music based on and around poetry in general sounds appealing, and a wide variety of subtly avant-oriented progressive rock sounds like a good setting for that to you, this is an album worth checking out.
Progmessor: June 23, 2018
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