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Tracklist: 1. Song For Dawn 1-00 2. Three Ladies 8-28 3. Today & Tomorrow 9-45 4. Mark's Bach 1-10 5. Perpetual Motion 12-43 6. Odgipig 3-14 Line-up: Richard Manktelow - vocals, guitars Mark Letley - bass, guitars, recorders, vocals Roger Thorn - drums & percussion Roger Woods - glockenspiel, oscillators All tracks written, arranged, performed & produced by Sindelfingen (except track 4: J.S. Bach). Recorded at "Medway Organs Recording Studio", UK. Engineered by Peter Cornelius & Arthur Johnson.
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Prologue. According to the CD's booklet, Sindelfingen was actually a troupe that included dancers, visual artists (plus a plethora of guest artists), a string section, sound and lightning engineers, as well as Rock musicians, who, led by a guitarist and composer Richard Manktelow, have once created an album of Classic Progressive Rock "Oldgipig".
The Album. I think, it is necessary to divide these six songs into three parts so as each of these parts contain the compositions that, musically, structurally, and even stylistically in some ways, are more than similar among themselves (with the only exception, though: you'll know about it pretty soon). This way, all the long songs Three Ladies, Today & Tomorrow, and Perpetual Motion will be in a first, most serious 'company'. Two shortest tracks Song For Dawn and Mark's Bach look as a really nice pair. So (fortunately), the album's last song, 3-minute title-track Oldgipig in person, remains alone. Why "fortunately"? Perhaps, it's because of a strange title and the origin of it as well. Though, if you want to know a real cause of this track's fortune and fate, that are the same things in this exact case, just continue to read the review. It is a real pleasure to listen to all the long songs of "Oldgipig", as each of them is a real progressive killer by all means. Although there are more instrumental parts than vocal ones in each of them, the latter are original and diverse, and their combination with instrumental arrangements (that work behind the vocal too: this is typical for songs of a true Classic Progressive) look especially impressive. Mark Letley sings not too often on the album: he is quite active, - along with Richard, though, - only on Perpetual Motion. Richard Manktelow, who is a natural baritone, is a talented vocalist. He's kind of chameleon and although his dramatically spectacular parts can, in places, remind me of a style not unlike Peter Gabriel, I can't compare most of Richard's vocal parts and especially his voice(s) to any of the singers that I know. As for the instrumental arrangements on Three Ladies, Today & Tomorrow, and Perpetual Motion, they're not just complex, diverse and full of unexpected changes of themes and tempos, etc (all that too, though), they, in addition, sound incredibly original thanks to the constant presence of glockenspiel's solos (yeah) contained therein. Actually, everything sounds original on the said long songs and, first of all, because most of the arrangements are based not on guitar riffs or rhythms, keyboard chords, etc as usual, but on acoustic guitar passages, piano and recorder (special wood flute) roulades, and also (wonderful) interplays between two acoustic guitars and the same recorder that, by the way, sounds by no means exactly as your typical flute (Ian Anderson's, for example). And quite right you are: despite the fact that there are enough electric guitar, organ and bass solos, as well as truly bombastic episodes with thunderous drumming, etc, most of these arrangements sound really acoustic. All in all, I am inclined to regard Three Ladies, Today & Tomorrow, and Perpetual Motion among the most original compositions ever created in the history of Classic Progressive. Both the short pieces, one of which is a real song (Song For Dawn), and another is the only instrumental on the album (actually, a part of some piece of Bach), instrumentally represent (yes, short, but very, very nice) roulades of an acoustic guitar. Wonderful is the word. Well, there is the last track of the album that at the same time is the album's title-track. Unfortunately, I have to 'disentitle' it. I more than wonder why the Sindelfingen guys decided to complete such a strong, in many ways unique album as (their own) "Oldgipig" with an imitation of the first (acoustic) part of the first (here's no a tautology!) Jethro Tull's super-hit Aqualung, - the opening track from the self-titled album. Sadly, Oldgipig is not just influenced by Aqualung, part 1. The rhythms of acoustic guitars and vocals (especially backing vocals of Mark) are too similar to… too-ooo… This already reminds me Locomotive Breathe, which, in its turn, clearly shows how seriously upset I am (about that last - really last, - the worst track of the album). Well, this time not some invisible drawbacks, but I myself will denude the sixth rating star from this masterpiece of an album and eat it, despite it's so bitter (of me to do it).
Summary. I've read a short description of the only Sindelfingen album in the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock. According to that description, musically "Oldgipig" represents a blend of Prog and folk music, but I can't agree with such a definition of the music of Sindelfingen almost at all. Of course, being burned with the desire to find the elements of folk music anyway, it is not only possible, but even easy to find them everywhere in Art Rock / Symphonic Progressive (at least). Actually, there is the only short episode, slightly resembling a folk motive, on this monster-album of a pure Classic Progressive Rock (closer to the end of track 2, to be precise). Also, apart from the said last track, I haven't found similarities between Sindelfingen and any of the other bands. Without that last track in the program "Oldgipig" sounds 33+ minutes: there are lots of real LPs (i.e. full-length albums) that range the same time, beginning with Rainbow's "Rising", for example. If you miss the intriguing, complex yet very sincere, outstanding original music created in the best traditions of the old 'n' gold 1970s, get the hero of this review, and you won't be disappointed with Sindelfingen and my overall opinion on their album as well.
VM. October 25, 2001
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