[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
(55:12 / The Laser's Edge Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. A Different Man-I 7:51 2. Exit LUMC 7:41 3. Mastermind 6:17 4. Under A New Sign 5:44 5. Courteous Love 7:08 6. Dreamweaver 7:38 7. A Different Man-II 13:07 LINEUP: Gerben Klazinga - keyboards Mark Vermeule - guitar; b/v Rinie Huigen - guitar; b/v Gijs Coopman - bass Pieter Hoorn - drums Mark Smit - vocals Joop Klazinga - flutes With Ruben Kruisturn - cello
Prolusion. "Under a New Sun" by Dutch band KNIGHT AREA is a successor to their debut release, "The Sun Also Rises" (2004), which I haven't heard. I see two former Cliffhanger members, Rinie Huigen and Gijs Coopman, have finally found stability on their creative way. They had for quite a long time to knock about as session musicians after the break up of their (excellent) old group, back in 2001.
Analysis. I've heard tens of albums released by The Laser's Edge Records, the great majority of those standing our for their highly original sound. To be short, it's for the first time now that I meet a neo-prog creation which came from the precincts of that label. Continuing the tradition (if it's possible to say so) of making the music of classic Genesis accessible to a wider audience, Knight Area take the baton from Arena who, in their turn, while following Marillion's footsteps, have strongly simplified their style. Four of the seven musical entities existing "Under a New Sun", namely A Different Man-I, Exit LUMC, Dreamweaver and A Different Man-II, all have such a typically-traditional neo-symphonic-prog sound that I don't see any reason to go into details: just imagine a statistically-average song from the first two albums by Arena, and you'll hit the mark. Indeed, I experienced a kind of deja vu when listening to those, though I must admit the style's trademark elements are all in place: loads of melodic keyboard, guitar and bass (Gijs can't stop!) leads, warm pillows of Mellotron, lush instrumentals and pounding drums, although singer Mark Smit is not always on a par with his partners. Anyway, it is the three central pieces, Mastermind, Courteous Love and the one after which the CD is titled, that turn out to be the real core of this recording, all sounding notably more original than the others. Take Courteous Love: this is not a trivial ballad. Except for its finale, it has an almost chamber sound since there are only piano, cello, flute and vocals in the arrangement, its several instrumental interludes all differing in theme. The heavy guitar riffs run almost through Mastermind, approaching progressive Doom Metal in their diversity and intensity alike. That track would've been a killer if Gerben Klazinga had less often wedged his Clive Nolan-inspired keyboard patterns into the process. In any event, it's the title track that bears the palm in this musical round. The only instrumental in the set, Under a New Sun is free of any unnecessary repeats, stylistically steering somewhere halfway between classic and neo Symphonic Progressive, with some amount of jazz-fusion finesse, only in places arousing associations - with "Wind & Wuthering" by Genesis. So Gerben Klazinga (who is the songsmith for Knight Area) is on his best form here, meaning as a performer too: just listen to his rapid quasi-improvised organ solo in one of the piece's middle sections.
Conclusion. Comparing the album's three core tracks to the others, I think Knight Area are probably still on the way to hitting their full potential, though I may be mistaken in hoping they will be willing to stop imitating their mentors in the future, since this is a highly beneficial direction. One way or another, being a specialty of the house of Neo, "Under a New Sun" comes recommended to fans of the style, and I'm pretty sure this CD will transport all of them to heaven. Following logically, those looking for classic Art-Rock should look elsewhere.
VM: July 24, 2007
[ SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]