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Schicke Fuhrs & Frohling - Symphonic Pictures CD (album) cover

SYMPHONIC PICTURES

Schicke Fuhrs & Frohling

 

Symphonic Prog

3.93 | 67 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars SFF is one of my all-time favourite German prog acts, and what's more, I find their stunning debut album "Symphonic Pictures" as a definitive apex in prog history - let alone, in the German prog scene. Two members of this trio, Schicke and Fröhling, came right out from the ranks of Spektakel, joining forces in order to pursue a more focused kind of music, with one foot in the British symphonic melodic trend and the other in the cosmic realms of krautrock in a most stylish fashion. Once they casually met a young classically trained keyboardist named Gerhard Fürhs, the band was completed right after a common artistic goal had been properly agreed. SFF's musical vein is parallel to those of Pulsar, as well as compatriots Novalis and TD (circa "Ricochet" and "Stratosfear"), which means that 73-75 Pink Floyd's eerie psychedelia was a major point of reference for the first musical ideas created by SFF. This factor is logistically enhanced by the fact that guitarist Fröhling also doubled on mellotron and string synth, Fürhs made a heavy use of bass synth whenever a bass part was not played by a real bass guitar, and also drummer-percussionist Schicke did some stuff on Moog - the massive use of keyboards turns out to be quite effective when doing cosmic explorations and also when it comes to elaborating symphonic orchestrations.. But again, this is not the whole picture, since there are also fusion elements, soaring synthetic experimentations and somber ambiences cooking in the band's sonic melting pot: in fact, some of the most melodic passages in the album may remind the listener of "Moon Madness"-era Camel, which I consider more a coincidence than an influence. The opening track 'Tao' sets the mood for the album and catches the listener's attention by storm, due to its various attractive motifs and the fluid linkage that sustains them altogether: this is one perfect epitome of the trio's musical essence and versatile creativity. 'Solution' and 'Sundrops' are the shortest pieces in the album, both showing the most relaxing side of SFF: in some ways, it may remind us of early Vangelis' bucolic side, albeit a bit more ethereal and more structured. The 5 ½ minute long 'Dialog' comprises two well distinct parts: the first one is a jazz-oriented section with a symphonic twist, while the second one goes to darker places without getting too oppressive (SFF never get too cathartic). The sidelong 'Pictures' is the definite monster track in the album, and definitely, their most ambitious composition ever. Its monumental structure is solid enough to comprise the most somber passages in the album, as well as some other spacey ones that provide an effective contrast: shades of Prokofiev and Wagner can be noticed in many of the mellotron washes that appear here and there. As I said before, SFF is not a band that bears a dramatically dark side: for all the disturbing images that 'Pictures' portrays in many of its specific sections, there is also a sense of grandeur that helps to maintain a touch of class all throughout this track, and so, it is not impending doom what is evoked by this track, but a sense of conflict delivered in a most elegant manner. In short, based on my observation of the creativity, magic and great performances comprised in "Symphonic Pictures", I must conclude that it is a masterpiece, and therefore, is a must for any good prog collection.

[I respectfully dedicate this review to the memory of Gerhard Fürhs, who passed away 11/3/92]

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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