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Versus X - Primordial Ocean CD (album) cover

PRIMORDIAL OCEAN

Versus X

 

Crossover Prog

3.68 | 48 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Primordial Ocean" is an album in which German ensemble Versus X reinforces its retro-symphonic trend. As I remember, the band started on a prog metal-meets-neo vein ("Disturbance" being a clear testimony for this line of work), but by now the band has managed to deliver a development toward the pompous, nostalgic roads of old-fashioned symphonic prog. Keyboardist Ekkehard Nahm operates as the pivotal man for the full band's instrumental schemes and explorations. As points of reference, Versus X has a musical feel very related to 90s Flower Kings, the resucitated Kaipa, High Wheel, and why not, The Tangent - as a matter of fact, guitarist Arne Schäfer's vocal range and style remind of Eloy's Frank Bornemann y The Tangent's Andy Tillison. The band feels at ease when creating and elaborating long compositions: four are the ones comprised in this "Primordial Ocean". 'The Pulse of Earth' gets teh albums started with ceremonious organ and mellotron layers, with a controlled power that gradually gets more patent as the whole band develops the themes. The increase of sonic power is not generated by way of contrast, but with a well-measured build-up. The most magnificent moment of this track take place between minutes 8 and 15, whose melancholic atmospheres are convincingly portrayed by the synth washes, mellotron layers and lead guitar phrases, in this way paying a great tribute to old-school space-oriented symphonic rock. 'From a Distance' is a brief piano solo piece whose meditative tone serves as a proper prelude to the impetuous intro of the next track, 'Essentially Human'. This suite goes for more extrovrted moods than the opener, even getting deeply into the most sophisticated side of progressive things (some specific instrumental passages take hints to Gentle Giant or Van der Graaf Generator). The mellotron sounds are pretty recurrent here, while the guitar harmonies and leads always stay loyal to the moods created by the keyboards (organ chord progression, mellotron layers, piano scales) - in fact, the lead guitar is the crucial item for the track's melodic development, except when the synth assumes the leading spot. The emotional climax literally fills teh air around the attentive listener. 'Fingerprints' begins on a very ethereal mood, alternating spacey synth layers and classicist piano interventions. When the whole band settles in, they elaborate an effective linkage of various motifs, bearing diverse levels of intensity. The track's second half is dominated by a very groovy motif, obviously catchy while ornamented with some sophistication in its rhythmic basis. The last minutes are filled by a languid closure. The longest suite in the album (it last a bit less than 23 ¾ minutes) is the last one: "Into the Vast Unknown" follows the path of musical ambition pursued by the two preceding suites, even giving more room to the instrumental deliveries. Particularly relevant is the fact that bassist Thomas Keller makes his instrument steal the limelight for a few moments. Complexity is an essential rule here, with the band exploiting the compositional paraphernalia enthusiastically between minutes 10 and 13 - simply delicious! Actually, tracks 3-5 can be enjoyed as a contant zeniyh of the album. In conclusion, Versus X has delivered a great retro-prog album with this 2008 effort "Primordial Ocean". Not unlike Thieves' Kitchen, The Tangent or Brighteye Brison, Versus X has shown us that 2008 is yet another year of good health for old-fashioned symphonic prog.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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