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Versus X (Germany) - 1997 - "Disturbance" ("Musea", 58 min)
1. Curtain Call (Nahm / Schafer) 17:38 2. In Silent Age (Schafer / Nahm) 16:47 3. The Mirror of Division (Schafer / Nahm) 22:30 Arrangements by Versus X. Lyrics by A.Schafer. Recorded & mixed by Andreas Tofahrn. Line-up: Arne Schafer - guitars & vocals Ekkehard Nahm - keyboards Stephan Dilley - bass Stefan Maywald - drums
The album. "Disturbance" is the second album from the well-known contemporary German Progressive Rock band Versus X. Started in 1993 with their self-titled debut work, these guys performed back in 1996 year under the flag of the Premier Prog Label "Musea" (France). One of the most serious and original bands on the current German Prog scene. Co-leader (with E.Nahm) of Versus X Arne Schafer has also created his own very successful "side project" called Apogee. Please don't forget to read Arne's interview and review on his latest solo album "Sysiphos".
As you see, this 58-minute album contains only the three long (actually, the side-long) epic compositions. The opening track Curtain Call, according to the author's domination of Ekkehard Nahm in composing, is a bit more piano oriented piece than other two, though on the whole, we hear equally prominent roles of electrcic/acoustic guitars and varied keyboards almost pervasively on "Disturbance". Curtain Call is a composition of the purest Classic Symphonic Art Rock, full of polyphony, slightly "broken" structures, original and unexpected arrangements, changes of moods and tempos, excellent solos from each band member, and wonderful interplays between both main soloists - Schafer and Nahm. Quite sophisticated English lyrics, sung by A.Schafer, sound good, but the majority of the internal parts within the frame of each composition on this album are entirely instrumental.
The arrangements of the second track In Silent Age continue to move in the same thematical direction, though guitar riffs by Schafer are heard more often and are slightly heavier than on the preceding track. Structurally speaking, Silent Age almost totally comparable to Curtain Call, and we hear again lots of varied themes and arrangements, which change each other kaleidoscopically. It is a very good factor that there are exceptionally little overdubs in this song -- seems Silent Age was recorded by the formula "Live in the Studio". Incidentally, more than once Versus X has been voted by musical critics "The best contemporary live band in Germany. On the whole, Silent Age, as well as Curtain Call, contains all the "main" ingredients of high-quality Progressive Rock -- i.e. an open originality, lots of varied themes and solos, complex and often diverse arrangements.
The Mirror of Division is the longest, most epic and undoubtedly the most profound composition on "Disturbance". The overal level of complexity here is quite comparable to such famous progressive side-long pieces as "The Siberian Shatru" (Yes, "Close to the Edge" album), The Tangerine Windows of Solace (Sieges Even, "Steps"), etc, etc, -- though stylistically the music of Versus X in their own structural form, has nothing to do with the original created by the aforesaid Titans of Progressive Rock. In this composition virtuoso Ekkehard Nahm shows himself as a real keyboard wizard, and the united work of the other members of the band is simply incredible. The Mirror of Division, is a real masterpiece of contemporary Classic Symphonic Art Rock, a fine conclusion to the "Disturbance" album, that looks like a crown for Princes of "Non-profit" Rock music and shines like a star on the endless horizon of Progresive Rock.
Summary. Versus X (together with Apogee) is without a doubt, one of the best contemporary Progressive Rock acts in Germany. The original music from these guys cannot be directly compared to anyone band from all over the world (see below). In comparison with the band's debut work from 1993 "Disturbance" shows a big step forward to maturity in composing and proGfessionalism in performing of their new material, which, unlike the majority of commercially succesful Rock bands from Germany, will never bring an adequate fee to the authors -- for such a complex, non-conformistic creation. But, on the other hand, people of the Premier Progressive Rock label "Musea" can proudly call this release a real "Classic for the Future". The originality displayed in their music makes them unique - not like any other band in the world.
VM. November 23, 1999
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