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Flamborough Head - Lost in Time CD (album) cover

LOST IN TIME

Flamborough Head

 

Neo-Prog

3.84 | 99 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars Flamborough Head are a veteran Northern Dutch neo-prog outfit that has had a solid yet still unremarkable career, even after 6 fine releases since 1998. They have finally arrived to the promised land with a delightful collection of masterful songs on 'Lost in Time' , six extended neo/symphonic prog workouts given plenty of room for artful soloing, great tempo intervals and solid instrumental arrangements. The core of the band has remained the same since day one with keyboardist Edo Spanninga leading the orchestral frenzy, helped along by the stalwart rhythm section of fluid bassist Marcel Derix and drum basher Koen Roozen. The sweeping vocals from Margriet Boomsma really altered the direction with 2002's One for the Crow and have now reached a fertile level of accomplishment. She contributes deft flute playing as well. The incredibly talented guitarist Eddie Mulder has graced a series of FH albums but he is now concentrating on Trion (a Flamborough Head side project) as well as Leap Day, a fine compatriot band looking to expand their own career. New stringer Gert Polkerman is no slouch tough, providing stellar axe shrieking when necessary. But the biggest change is the material in question, a sharper, more focused level of expression, loaded with dense keyboard carpeting, plush guitar solos, and simply grandiose themes that ache and moan. In fact, Flamborough Head have attained a level of assurance and confidence that is unmistakably evident within the grooves of their energized symphonic pieces. Much like fellow Netherlanders Odyssice , their craft is a fine balance between hummable and spectacular.

The sensational epic title track kicks off the festivities with a fertile disposition , a musical universe with huge swaths of mellotron, ornate piano work, powerful bass and drum anchoring, as well as a churning magical flute . Sheer, unadulterated bliss with Margriet's wistful voice weaving a wondrous story, equalled by a sumptuous chorus ('Right there for a moment'), some superb Spanish guitar strumming and a glorious sense of purpose. Polkerman unleashes his first of many poignant solos to come, a six-string shriek of the finest order. The mood is upbeat, positive and confident, the organ whooshes, the synth swirls and the piano utters pure melancholy. Finish off with a bright lead guitar solo and presto, instant gratification.

The nearly dozen minutes of 'The Trapper' just keeps the positive vibe going, a rollicking exercise led by a biting guitar cavalcade, everyone in gleeful tow; you can just imagine the players smiling as they unite in harmonious osmosis. Margriet takes charge of the microphone stand and conveys a disquieting tale of a young miner's fate, profoundly choked by the deepest earth, a bleak world of dust and grime, dirt and despair. Despite all this gravity, there is a sense of eternal hope emanating from the playing which again credits the spiritual outlook this band now professes. The instrumental sections easily rival classic Focus, which is not surprising as there is a strong reverence in Holland for progressive rock to this day (The Dutch love being different!). In fact, there are many winks and nods to famous Focus tunes throughout the album, an added thrill for us prog treasure hunters.

The instrumental 'Dancing Ledge' is not a disco infused tune, as it starts off with thick mellotron blasts and a 'hard' guitar, giving booming bassist Marcel Derix the front stage to carry this bruising piece forward, adding a delicious solo to boot as the howling organ joins the frenzied fray. Polkerman again releases all his talent on the exuberant guitar, caressing its mighty strings with profound passion, Spanninga uses piano with clever detail, tallying an elegant highlight to the lively leads. Three tunes in and it's just magical stuff!

'Damage Done' is the proverbial 'love gone wrong' song, a reminder that feelings will always rule our technological lives, regardless of any new upgrades offered. The lyrical content is bleak, troubled and angst-ridden, while the instrumental playing alternates between sweet and sour, love and despair, night and day. Margriet recounts the difficulty of coping with changing relationships, a world where charm is replaced by dread. The damage is done, so what is next? Losing your self-esteem being the ultimate failure. Not bad inspiration for a neo-prog band, eh? The brash guitars are harsh and evocative, the beat relentless and the flute is there to provide hope for a better world.

The shortest track here is the 6 minute+ 'I'll Take the Blame', a rapid fire recounting of the human expressions that rule the thematic content of this disc but here , the band proposes a slight sense of dissonance and experimentation, with tonal textures that differ from their usual style. The human condition seemingly dictates constantly, shepherding its victims into unknown horizons and that attitude is well captured here.

The coup de grace is the immensely intriguing finale 'Andrassy Road' , a wonderful composition about a famous (and infamous) Budapest boulevard , a broad tree-lined avenue that would have made Baron Haussmann proud, connecting Pest's inner centrum to the glorious Heroes Square in a very straight line . The idea presumably arose from a FH 2008 concert in Hungary's capital which resulted in a 'Live in Budapest' album. This avenue has history painted onto its gorgeous palatial facades, sumptuous pink marble opera house and the gruesome 'Terror House' where both fascists and communist secret policemen tortured often the same disobedient resisters. This is now a museum to human cruelty, a must visit if one ever travels to this remarkable city. The band has infused within the gorgeous music, the essence of what makes Hungary tick, a tragic mix of hopeless uniqueness and rebellious positivity. The poignant lyrics clearly prove that the band's inspiration was undoubtedly of historic proportions. The quasi-orchestral music is therefore beyond splendiferous! Hope springs eternal.

A magical album, the culmination of an ever progressing talent and artistic vision. Not a weak second here. Bravo, Flamborough Head have definitely arrived! 2013 continues to be an unparalleled 'cuvee'.

5 Missing Rolexes.

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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