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(53:27, The Villa Productions)
TRACK LIST: 1. Neptune's Exile 10:47 2. No Strings Attached 6:06 3. What I Would Give 9:08 4. Symphonic Sketches 5:21 5. The Time of My Life 12:06 6. Touching the Darkness 9:59 LINEUP: Hans Spitzen - vocals, all instruments
Prolusion. Dutch project SPITZEN is the creative vehicle of Hans Spitzen, a long time music teacher that is also a composer and musician. "Fingerprints" is his first solo album, and was released through The Villa Productions, which I presume is the artists own label.
Analysis. While Spitzen most likely will be an unknown entity for many people, he has been involved in the music scene earlier. Back in 2008 he lent his talents to Dutch band Flamborough Head when they were in need of a guitarist, and the year after the release of this album he actually joined that very band as a permanent member. That being said, for the greater majority of people I rather suspect that Spitzen remains an unknown figure. As an artist, he does appear to hone in pretty firmly on the neo progressive aspect of progressive rock. The compositions are generally, long, atmospheric laden affairs, with smooth flowing guitar soloing and tasteful keyboard layers rich in mood and atmosphere. He does add some beef to the material here and there, in a manner that comes close to AOR style hard rock on some occasions and not too far removed from the likes of Magnum in other places, but the greater majority of the material here is gentle, careful, soft and smooth. The gentler side of neo progressive rock if you like, with around half of the album revolving around compositions that at the core are ballads. Spitzen does have an affection for the symphonic too though, and then just as much the classical as the progressive rock variety I'd guess, and these impulses are well explored in the instrumental piece Symphonic Sketches. There are some drawbacks to this album however, also for those with an affection for this variety of neo progressive rock. The mix and production isn't quite at the quality one would expect these days for starters, and while it is not bad or weak by any means this isn't an album for audiophiles either. Passable is the word to use I guess. A more detrimental aspect are the lead vocals. Mainly due to a noticeable accent, but also due to what I experience as a slight lack in tone control at times, and then mainly an issue when the vocals are more demanding.
Conclusion. Spitzen's debut album "Fingerprints" isn't one that will make a big splash now or later, but it is the musical heart and soul of a composer and musician that have been given life after numerous years of assembly. Those who tend to favor the more accessible varieties of 1980's neo progressive rock should embrace this album though, alongside those with a general affection for the music released by Dutch label SI Music back in the day.
Progmessor: January 27th, 2018
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