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Ache - De Homine Urbano CD (album) cover

DE HOMINE URBANO

Ache

 

Symphonic Prog

3.45 | 60 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
3 stars "De Homine Urbano" is the monumental 1970 debut by the Danish prog band, Ache. The album includes only two songs, each taking up one full side of the album. The title track was conceived when the band met ballet dancer Peter Schaufuss in February of 1969. Schaufuss told the band that he was looking for a group that could produce a "beat ballet", essentially a rock music piece for a ballet. Ache agreed to take on the project and from February to the single-day recording in June, the band worked together with Schaufuss in creating his new ballet music, which he wished to introduce at a competition in Moscow in July of the same year. Originally no release was planned though an EP was suggested. However, the ballet was a success and both the dance performance and the music received praise, and sometime after a full album was planned with an older piece from 1968 being worked onto side two. The album was finally released in 1970.

This band caught my interest because they were Danish and my family background is Danish. I don't know many Danish bands and so I wanted to give these guys a chance. Without a listen, I ordered the album.

The progressive rock movement is said to have originated in the mid-sixties with bands like The Beatles, Frank Zappa, and The Beach Boys. Side-long epics also emerged around this time with Love covering a whole side of vinyl with one song in 1966. As the psychedelic years intervened, not only did more bands attempt side-long tracks but the concept of a piece composed with parts like a symphony or suite began to attract the sense of a musical challenge for some bands. It's no surprise to discover then that the music on this 1970 album was actually composed partly in 1968 and partly in 1969.

The music sounds very much 1969. The fuzz-toned guitar, the organ, and the drumming style are unmistakably psychedelic-influenced 68/69 early epic prog. The CD notes describe the band's music as, "more melodic than The Nice, ballsier to some degree than The Moody Blues, sweeter-natured than King Crimson or Van Der Graaf Generator and more hot-blooded than Pink Floyd". To my ears, the music sounds a lot similar to Nektar's debut "Journey to the Centre of the Eye", some Vanilla Fudge, or like Dionysos' "Le grand jeu" without the blues side. In a way, the sound and style is very common for the time.

I enjoy the sound of the music very much and some parts of both compositions are quite delicious for a fan of psychedelic rock. That this band was already writing such long songs with multiple parts earns them credit points and that side one was written for a professional ballet dancer's competition entry says that these Danes were really serious about making music that was more than five minute fuzz-toned rockers. A lot of effort went into composing these two tracks with different parts of movements in mind.

Where the album loses me is in its overreaching efforts to be symphonic or like a ballet. In a couple of years' time, we would get sonically awesome epics like "Close to the Edge" or "Supper's Ready" that are much more memorable for their parts. This album still wears the stardust of the nebulous cloud of haze and visions that came with the psychedelic years. The sound that was to come would be less tripping and more focused and clear, combining memorable melodies with historic instrumental moments.

For those with an open mind, a keen liking for music of 1969 and psych, or seeking music on the cusp of proto-prog and classic prog, this album is worthy of inspection. For those who prefer classic symphonic prog, this album mind still have too much of the psychedelic sound to it, in spite of the grand efforts made to achieve these two tracks. A few months later, Ache would go on to release "The Green Man" which was a more normal album with a collection of shorter songs. I haven't heard it yet but I've got it in my sights. My intuition says to give this album 3 stars but at the same time acknowledging that this album captures like a snapshot an important phase in the progression of progressive rock.

FragileKings | 3/5 |

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