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Tracklist: 1. Sulm 1:51 2. Thonkland 4:39 3. Square Root 5:44 4. Pomme 6:17 5. Insharp 6:23 6. Garden 8:29 7. Ela 8:14 8. Rak 7:47 All music: by Marc Grassi, except track 5 (by M. Grassi & Flavio Mezzodi) Arrangements: by Thonk, except 1, 2, 3, & 6 (by M. Grassi & F. Mezzodi) Line-up: Marc "Rak" Grassi - synthesizers, hammond, mellotron, grand piano, & harpsichord Flavio Mezzodi - drums & percussion Fredy Schnyder - bass, acoustic & electric guitars Produced by Par Lindh & Thonk. Recorded & mixed by Par Lindh at "Crimsonic" studios, Uppsala, Sweden. Artworks: by M. Grassi.
Prologue. With this material, I am beginning a series of reviews on the albums released by the Swiss Prog-label Galileo Records. This label was formed in 2000 and today, there are six albums in its catalog. "Earth Vision Impact", the debut album by Thonk , which is the Swiss band as well, was the fifth CD released by Galileo.
The Album. Only a week ago, while reviewing the fourth North Star album "Tempest", I expressed my displeasure regarding the lack of all-instrumental albums of a pure Symphonic Rock on today's Prog scene. To my surprise, Thonk's "Earth Vision Impact" turned out to be another excellent example of a real Classic Symphonic Art-Rock. Furthermore, I didn't expect that the debut album by these Swiss guys would be so greatly impressive. Created within the framework of a unified stylistics, "Earth Vision Impact" sounds like it was composed and performed by mature musicians. On the whole, Thonk's music is rather original, and the slight traces of influences can be heard only in a few short episodes on the album. While listening to the album, only once I remembered each of the names of Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Par Lindh (who is the producer of this album). In that way, only stylistic parallels can be drawn between Thonk and those famous performers who I've just mentioned. From the progressive standpoint of view, however, Thonk's debut album is more complex (at least technically) than any solo albums by Rick Wakeman (yeah!), not to mention PLP. These guys not only try to refrain from repetitions, but also do everything in their power to avoid 4/4 measures. They work with complex meter 'formulas' throughout the album. Each of the tracks that are featured on "Earth Vision Impact" contain a wide variety of complex time signatures, changes of tempo and mood, as well as the other essential progressive ingredients. Most of the arrangements on the album consist of tasteful and masterful interplay between passages of Grand Piano and solos of either one of the synthesizers or Hammond organ, all of which are accompanied by very diverse parts of the rhythm section. The other keyboard parts, such as the Church Organ- and Clavier-like solos of synthesizer and passages of Mellotron are heard on the album only episodically. By the way, the bass guitar is involved in interplay with various keyboards more often than acoustic and electric guitars. In particular, Sulm, Square Root, and Garden (tracks 1, 3, & 6) do not contain any guitar parts in general, and just a few electric guitar riffs are featured in the beginning of Thonkland (track 2) - which doesn't affect the quality of these pieces. However, the best tracks on the albums are, in my view, those that, apart from the other arrangements, feature interplay between an acoustic guitar and piano. These are Square Root, Pomme, Rak, and Ela (tracks 4, 5, 8, & 7 respectively). The first three of them contain also the electric guitar solos, the majority of which are fluid and slow. On the whole, these spacey-like solos don't sound all that bad, but their presence on this album, the nature of which is distinctly symphonic, doesn't look as essential as passages and solos of acoustic guitar. While Fredy Schnyder plays both bass and acoustic guitar truly masterfully, his possibilities as a lead guitarist are so far limited by the lack of experience (which is yet to come).
Summary. In the case of Thonk's "Earth Vision Impact", I have no doubts regarding it as the best of those instrumental Symphonic Rock albums that I heard since the beginning of the new millennium. I am acquainted with the creation of several Swiss bands and, until now, I've appreciated only one of them - an outstandingly innovative Progressive Doom-Metal band, Celtic Frost. Well, Thonk is another progressive hallmark to come out from Switzerland. Highly recommended!
VM. March 18, 2002
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