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(60 min, Quixote)
TRACK LIST: 1. Auszeit 6:32 2. Allzumenschlich 3:37 3. Bekkiffte Schnecken 4:33 4. Stuck Von Fruher 3:59 5. Der Frosch 4:26 6. Mobil Steril 4:14 7. Hic et Nunc 2:59 8. Kjolur 5:48 9. Kindlein 1:50 10. Sanktuarium II 4:01 11. Bei Mir 2:58 12. Mein Neu 4:34 13. Stetig 4:49 14. Dein Licht 3:59 15. Elias im Zauberwaid 1:36 All tracks: by Gloenkler. Produced by Gloenkler. LINEUP: Thomas Gloenkler - guitars, bass; keyboards Eva-Maria Baumann - flute With: Christoph Wieland - guitar (1, 11)
Prolusion. According to the CD press kit, Thomas GLOENKLER was the guitarist and the main songwriter for the German Prog Rock outfit ICU, a band with three albums to their credit, whose career in the '90s was highlighted with support gigs for Pendragon. After ICU disbanded in 1997, Gloenkler worked as an artist, and his pictures have been shown all over Europe. But inasmuch as he always regarded himself as both painter and musician, Thomas went on recording material for a solo album. Here it is, titled "Auszeit".
Analysis. The realization of the fact that Thomas is strongly inspired by Steve Hackett's creation, which is rather obviously reflected on most of the tracks here, has clashed with my positive attitude towards the music as such, so I spent no less than an hour while thinking over how to begin describing this material. As a result, I decided to follow the line of least resistance, telling simply and unpretentiously that I am much pleased with this album, despite the fact that it isn't free of some derivativeness. Herr Gloenkler not only has his own, quite specific, vision of things that are currently part of Progressive Rock's history and are probably a classic of the genre, but has also enough taste and wisdom not to create a parody to his benefactors. While I am forced to resort to comparisons in this review, I'd like to ask you, dear readers, to take them easy. The music is so good and tasteful that some minor (and probably unintentional) borrowings present are totally excusable. There are four categories of compositions on "Auszeit". Allzumenschlich, Stuck Von Fruher, Mobil Steril and Elias im Zauberwaid are classic acoustic guitar pieces, much in the same vein as those from Steve Hackett's "Momentum". The third is the most intricate, as it features both passages and solos of acoustic guitar, the latter being effectually contrasting (they were overdubbed, of course). The beautiful interplay between acoustic guitar and flute, at times with light synthesizer passages at the background, form the content of Kindlein, Sanktuarium II and Mein Neu. Each would've been on the right place on Steve's "Bay of Kings" or any of those officially collaborative albums he did with his younger brother, flutist John Hackett. The title track, Der Frosch, Bei Mir, Stetig and Dein Licht find the said instruments being joined by electric guitar, piano and 'string ensemble'. The main storyline continues, but getting some more complicated, and also richer in sound, revealing the quality of melodic electro-acoustic music, bordering on symphonic Art-Rock, such as on "Cured" and "Highly Strung" still by the same Steve Hackett, but without drums. (Well, there is no real flute on the latter three, but that's not a big deal.) By the way, Thomas's solos on electric guitar are especially eloquent with regard to the source of his principal inspiration. The bass complements the sonic palette on the remaining three pieces. Furthermore, its pulsating, rhythmically pronounced nature, in combination with the distinctive "delay" (echo) effect, play an important role in their overall sound, which clearly indicates that Thomas has also much respect to the creation of Alan Parsons. The structures of Bekkiffte Schnecken and Hic et Nunc are immediately recognizable: it's just Lucifer on the "Eve" of seeing A Dream Within a Dream from "Tales of Mystery & Imagination" :-) Kjolur is more complicated, and you'll have to revisit the composition to recall that you were In the Lap of Luxury some time ago, in different dimension, while visiting the "Pyramid".
Conclusion. "Auszeit" is a good effort, full of enjoyable music. (Indeed, no weak tracks here!) Overall, this is a pretty recommendable CD and might get a solid success, particularly among the fans of aforementioned artists. Perhaps only incorrigible:-) avantrockers shouldn't be worried apropos of this.
VM: Agst 19, 2005
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