MINDSPEAK – ECLIPSE CHASER – INDEPENDENT
One of the nice things about writing about music for so many years is that I am often sought out by bands asking if I will review their latest release. I don’t take everything I am offered by labels or PR companies as there are only so many hours in a day, but one of my personal rules is that if I am approached by band or artist then I will always accept the offer of the album and write about it honestly. One of my favorite sayings is “so much music, so little time”, and it never ceases to amaze me how much great music is out there by bands I have not previously come across. When I started writing about prog some 30 years ago there were very few, and it was rarely covered by magazines – these days it is possible to buy music mags which do feature this style of music but we don’t get many at the end of the world, so most of the time I find myself in isolation and have no idea what is happening outside my own sphere. But I do hope these guys have been getting the attention they deserve.
This is the second album by this Austrian quintet, who comprise Alex Clement (guitar, additional vocals), Christoph Kasparovsky (grand piano, keyboards, organ), Gabriel Lahrmann (drums, percussion), Simon Nagy (bass) and Viktoria Simon-Lukic (vocals). It has taken five years from the release of ‘Pictures’ to get to this space and let’s hope it doesn’t take nearly as long for the next album as this is a delight from start to end. Although the album is made up of lengthy numbers, none of them ever feel like they are dragging on as they are compact and concise and everything makes musical sense. It is quite an intense album, in that the music is coming at the listener in a fairly frenetic and overpowering way. One of the reasons for that is the guys at the back are not prepared to sit still and just provide a bedrock for everything else but rather want to keep driving the music forward and providing their own musical counterpoint. Then you have keyboards and guitars which are reminiscent of the Hensley/Box interplay of old as they keep competing with each other for dominance, but never at the detriment of the song as a whole. Viktoria Simon-Lukic is a good singer as opposed to great, but she holds her own with the very powerful music taking place around her.
While there is some fairly obvious Spock’s Beard influence here and there along with IQ, bands such as Mythologic and even Pink Floyd and Mostly Autumn also get a look in. This is a highly melodic crossover progressive rock with neo tendencies which is a blast from start to finish. No navel-gazing prog elite here, but rather a band out having fun and taking the listeners along with them for the ride. Highly polished, this just doesn’t seem like a second album, as it is way too controlled for that. I am somewhat surprised they haven’t been picked up by a label as yet, but possibly that will change after this. They have been touring in mainland Europe, as well as playing some festivals, so hopefully, they will get the attention they deserve. With a very strong rock element to their music, these complex simple songs are going to be appreciated by those who want their prog to take control in a very direct manner indeed. Strong stuff.
8/10 Kev Rowland