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(46:32, Starfish 64)
TRACK LIST: 1. Yesterdays Favourite Smile 4:45 2. Tomorrow in Dark Water 6:49 3. Determination 12:43 4. Molehills 04:03 5. Charting an Abyss 18:12 LINEUP: Dieter Hoffmann - vocals, guitars, keyboards Henrik Kropp - drums Martin Pownall - vocals, guitars, bass Dominik Suhl - guitars with: Kass Moody - bass Julie Pownall - vocals Jan Thiede - guitars, glockenspiel Simon Triebel - guitars, keyboards Nick - mandolin
Prolusion. German band STARFISH64 started out in 2006 as the solo project of composer and musician Dieter Hoffman, and was initially a moniker solely for him and his material. In the years that followed this solo project slowly but surely developed into a proper band. "The Future in Reverse" is the sixth album to be released under the Starfish64 moniker, and is the first of these albums that can be described as being a proper band effort. The album was self released in 2018.
Analysis. The band describes the music on this album as dream-prog, which is probably an apt description in many ways. The music is dream-laden, and does have a tendency to be ever so slightly melancholic to boot. An album of twilight music if you like, music that fits that mood you get when you are in between night and day - or day and night. I understand that Hoffmann has a background as a singer/songwriter, and tendencies from that type of music does make it's way into the material here. The use of the acoustic guitar is liberal, and the arrangements tends to be sparse with much room and space for the individual instruments and even notes. Hence this isn't a pace-filled nor energetic production either, most songs are rather slowly moving forward, and with careful, subtle alterations as something of a trademark feature throughout. Floating keyboard textures have their place in this totality, at times in a manner that reminds ever so slightly of classic era neo-progressive rock, and while less bountiful there are occasionally textured instrument details that adds an ever so slight post-rock feel at times too. Some aspects of psychedelic rock finds their way into this album as well, without ever being a defining trait, and much the same can be said about a two minute long cosmic interlude that suddenly appears in one of the compositions. That this is a band that are comfortable in creating a song that resides on the halfway point between pastoral, folk-oriented progressive rock and Americana probably says a bit about the qualities of this band as well, alongside what appears to be a subtle desire to not follow conventions all that much. I guess quite a few people would describe this latest album by Starfish64 as art pop, and I do believe that this is a fairly accurate description too. Despite this album featuring two compositions that combined clocks in at the half hour mark. But elements that makes up this album combines traits from the more accessible parts of the progressive rock universe with something of a pop/rock direction, and then art pop is a fairly logical conclusion.
Conclusion. Starfish64 isn't a band that will have a broad appeal among progressive rock fans as such I guess, and I suspect their main audience may even be one outside of progressive rock circles. That being said, if fairly gentle progressive rock that use elements from progressive folk rock, neo-progressive rock, singer/songwriter traditions and Americana and folk music in general sounds like a good thing, then this is an album that probably merits a check. And especially if you tend to favor melancholic moods and atmospheres in your music.
Progmessor: January 2020
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