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Fruitcake - Room For Surprise CD (album) cover

ROOM FOR SURPRISE

Fruitcake

 

Neo-Prog

3.53 | 30 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars The time has come for some dessert so why not some Fruitcake. No, not the tasty pastry but rather the Norwegian band that has a sizeable catalogue of languorous prog , a heavier version of Pink Floyd with some added classic touches that cannot fail to please. Led by drummer Pal Sovik , a rock solid thumper, and the unabashed use of bass-pedals (so fans beware!) ,the band has a definite style of their own as they combine heady doses of legendary Northern cool to the deal. I choose to start with their second release (and my favorite) "Room for Surprise" and its simply breathtaking artwork, no less than a 1796 J.W. Turner original, among the best cover art anywhere. "Time to Go" is a smart case in point, a brooding bass (Taurus and string) slithers along slyly, the rest of the players laying down shining coats of progressive colors, all kinds of sound effects (gulls, crashing or rolling thunder), almost space rock because of the groove. A tremendous opener. "Tall and Dark" is more playful and breezy, nice biting guitar flashing the way and a solid chorus that is most pleasant to the ear, Jens Sverdrup's axe displaying all kinds of inventiveness and Úlan. The weaving "Keep the Light" has a childlike feel , the sweeping and weeping synthesizers brooming the path delicately courtesy of Siri Seland , the drums dropping sonic buoys thus keeping things narrow and tight, an interesting style to say the least , especially when the lead guitar pops in for a cameo ride! Nothing too complex but very enjoyable. The title cut is another quirky whopper, almost as if inspired by Manzanera/801 or Split Enz, yet the recurring synth pattern is totally savvy and buzzing, giving this a shiny appeal. Gunnar Bergersen's bass rumbling fittingly, open things wide for some cool guitar and synth interplay. "Touch the Sky" is the 10 minute epic ride and it lives up to rest and then some. Organ, guitar and synths combine to set down a rich sonic sandbox, inviting all in to play and "touch the sky". All four players get to stretch out and flex their ideas into more concrete terms, highlighted by Sverdrup unleashing a series of solos with many phosphoric licks. The occasional vocals are relatively weak but do not deter in any which way mainly due to those massive walls of bass-pedals that litter the whole album. A first rate singer like future Fruitcake and Guardian's Office lead singer Tony Johannessen would have made this a superlative effort. Better late than never. Two shorter pieces ensue: "Hunting Old Ladies" is a strange title but saved by a glorious bass pummel that rolls along unmolested, butterflied synths scouring the airspace ahead, organ aiding and abetting the sonic crime and judicious guitar flexing unexpected muscles. The arrival of some voluptuous piano adds such a fascinating sparkle to the arrangement, here a lot closer to mid-period Genesis than anything else, a great tune. The frosty "Golden Age" sounds amazing but Sovik's pale vocals are unconvincing, another song saved by elegant phrasings by the usual suspects. Sverdrup again comes in nicely with a spirited yet mournful solo. "The Famous Hill" is a medium length adventure, loaded with loopy recurrent chords hence toyed by all the members into a somber ruffle that develops slowly but surely into an agreeable piece. The piano reverts anew into the fray, giving it even more credentials as it fades into a soporific haze. "A Whisper" is a delightful finale, the keyboardist Seland orchestrates some romantic piano lead while singing as well briefly, giving this a welcome feminine slant, a rewarding journey in so many ways. Not necessarily a must, some who may find this too maudlin just don't get their style (not me, I have all the albums except the last one), Fruitcake deserve at least the recognition of a fairly long yet unknown career. The opening track remains a killer. 4 candied cherry fjords
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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