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Tracklist: 1. Curtain Call 17:00 2. Strange Attractor 12:15 3. To Go Free 9:49 4. The Mirror of Division 21:49 All music by E. Nahm & A. Schafer. All lyrics by A. Schafer. Line-up: Arne Schafer - vocals: electric & acoustic guitars Ekkehard Nahm - synthesizers, organ, & piano Uwe Vollmar - drums & percussion Jorg Ficsher - basses Produced by: Versus X. Recorded & mixed by Andreas Tofahrn.
Prologue. This is the first official live album by Versus X, which was recorded at "The Spirit of '66" concert hall in Verviers, Belgium. The "Live At The Spirit" CD includes tracks from all three of the Versus X studio albums: "Versus X" (1994: track 3), "Turbulent Zone" (2000: track 2), & "Disturbance" (1997: tracks 1 & 4).
The Album. Above all, I'd like to say that I am very much impressed by Versus X's live performance, which I've heard for the first time in my life. The quality of this performance is so high that I would not be a bit surprised if I found out that the band recorded both of their latest albums live in a studio. All four of the songs that Versus X present on "Live At The Spirit" hardly sound much different than the originals. I reviewed all three of the band's studio albums, and both of those tracks here that were taken from "Disturbance", Curtain Call and The Mirror of Division (1 & 4), were depicted by me very in detail. (To read of them, click here: http://www.progressor.net/review/versus_x_2000.html). So here, I'd like to draw your attention to the contents of the other two tracks: To Go Free and Strange Attractor (3 & 2 respectively), especially since my review on the debut Versus X album is short. Although the review of "The Turbulent Zone" is detailed, it is for the most part dedicated to the thorough examination of the album as a whole, and also includes my thoughts on the band's creation in general. The stylistics of both of the said songs is very typical for Versus X and, of course, represents Classic Progressive Rock at its best. It also must be mentioned that this effort, as well as all three of the band's studio albums, is of a unified stylistic concept. To be more precise, the band performs an original and complex Art-Rock where there are quite a lot of elements of Symphonic Rock and Prog-Metal. Both of the vocal and instrumental arrangements that are present on these compositions are simply wonderfully diverse, though, for the most part, they're of a dramatic character, which is often marked with sorrowful and, sometimes, even dark shades. All of this is also typical for the creation of Versus X. The overall atmosphere of To Go Free is, however, much darker than that of Strange Attractor, which is obvious despite the fact that most of the instrumental parts on both of these songs are highly eclectic and intricate. Versus X is one of a few of the contemporary Art-Rock bands that are able to avoid any direct repetitions. And although there are still a few of the same themes on these two and each of the band's songs in general (though note that all of their songs are either simply long or 'side-long'), each of them is 'ornamented' with different details (soloing parts, etc) in arrangement. On both of these songs, there is approximately an equal number of solos and passages of all three types of the keyboards that Ekkehard Nahm had in his scenic equipment on this album (piano, organ, and synthesizers). As for Arne Schafer's guitar parts, on To Go Free they almost exclusively consist of heavy, slow and gloomy, riffs and harsh solos. Whereas on Strange Attractor, where there also are enough of heavy riffs and harsh solos, dominate, nevertheless, the fluid solos of electric guitar and passages of acoustic guitar. Jorg Fischer's solos on bass are part of varied interplay between varied instruments throughout the album and are as masterful and outstanding as those of guitars and keyboards. Certainly, the drumming by Uwe Vollmar didn't get worse since the band's previous album. His intricate beats are always the main basis for the complex stop-to-play movements and unusual measures that this album is simply filled with.
Having released this live album, Versus X, whom I regard as one of the best contemporary bands playing Classic Art-Rock, have once again proved that they are really worthy of praise. Although the band's music is based on the old-school Classic Progressive, it sounds fresh and gives me pleasure, which I rarely feel these days - at a time when there is a slow, yet, undeniable death of the fourth wave of the Progressive Rock movement. Even those who still don't notice the sinister signs that have densely gathered round contemporary Prog for the last two years will soon see them anyway, as these signs are more than merely evident now. Finally,
VM. October 10, 2002
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