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The Foundation - 2023 - "Mask"

(49:44; Xymphonia Records)


Apparently, keyboard player Ron Lammers started The Foundation as a trio back in the Nineties but nothing came of it and it is only in recent years that he decided to revisit the idea, bringing in some very well-known Dutch musicians to assist. The core of the band are Mark Smit (vocals, Knight Area), Rinie Huigen (guitars, Cliffhanger, King Eider, Novox, Knight Area), Jens van der Valk (electric guitar, Autumn, Cantara, Enraged), Gijs Koopman (bass, Taurus pedals, keyboards, Cliffhanger, Novox, Sylvium, Odyssice, Knight Area) and Jan Grijpstra (drums, Autumn). Additional players also include keyboard player Jan Munnik (Autumn) and guitarist Aad Bannink (Sentinel) plus flautist Judith van der Valk and violinist Sjoerd Bearda. Not only are they all seasoned musicians but they are also used to playing together in other outfits, and that experience shows through in this album which does not appear as if it is a fragmented project but instead is a band who have been working together for some time. The album is a simple concept in that it is a chronological representation of human life which commences nicely and gently with some keyboards and then develops into something more complex and raw. It is very easy in life to wear a mask, and sometimes this can mean hiding your true being not only from others but to yourself as well, and it is only by removing the mask and fully understanding ourselves that we can begin to live our lives to their truest potential. Although there are symphonic influences here and there, with Camel coming to the fore in “Birth”, we soon move into polished neo prog which brings together Dutch and American influences. Smit is a fine singer, but attention is drawn mostly to the songs and arrangements, as the use of multiple guitars has assisted in creating something which is complex and incredibly layered with complicated threads being drawn, with the keyboards providing the platform for them all to be brought together in a rich tapestry. The more the album is played the more the listener gets out of it, and with the title cut more than twelve minutes in length we have music which has room to develop and breathe. Interestingly this is not an over-long album at just under 50 minutes, and to my mind is all the better for that. This is direct with no tasteless and meaningless meanderings and we can only hope this is the beginning of a proper band as opposed to a project as I look forward to the next album with interest.

Progtector: February 2023

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