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The Foundation - Departure CD (album) cover

DEPARTURE

The Foundation

 

Symphonic Prog

3.54 | 23 ratings

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Guldbamsen
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Site and Forum Admin
3 stars Swedish foundation for your skin

People who know me also know that I don't write about too many 3 star albums. What you should take away from this fact is two things: 1) I am very long winded and I want to use whatever time I've got on this planet to talk about the stuff that gives me goosebumps and curdles my blood in the most beautiful way imaginable - and I've got at least 3 or 400 albums waiting for a review by now. 2) 3 stars equate a good album - never forget that. -And if I do decide to write about one of these efforts, it is because they genuinely mean something special to me.

Surprisingly enough I've chosen to review a Swedish album. Departure is the name of the game, and though sounding rather striking and fetching - it brings back memories to this listener of the very essence of the decade it was spawned, so to me personally it might as well have been named Arrival. The Foundation's sole record takes us back to the kitschy 80s, and you don't need too much time alone with this album before that fact becomes evident. The production has that wafer thin plastic coating which only seldomly manages to sound successful. The synths here also suffer from those far too common middle of the road sounds which were popular back then. They come across like a mix of early Marillion, Pallas and maybe a dash of synth pop thrown in for good measure. There are however times during this album, where they aspire for greatness and muster up the courage to break free from their ever imprisoning frame - sounding slightly Camelesque in nature rising above the pitfalls of their own existence. These moments are often generated by a group effort - the drums pick up momentum and clash into the wailing melodic guitar, that by then is singing songs of woe and hurt - hitting you right in the winter cold of your stomach. The bass, that usually stands well in the back as a supporting entity, now also peeps through the thicket and mimics some kind of symphonic take on Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris - injecting things with a proper rhythmic propulsion blrwwrwdrdridbedipebeb. Woooheee - come on boy!

For all you symph heads out there, this album could very well be the bee's knees, and I sure find immense pleasure in listening to this record from time to time - even if I think it a bit too pretty and goody two shoes for its own sake, but then again a little honey never hurt anybody, except for the tiny bees we stole it from. HAHA - take that! Departure's biggest let downs are their poor stagnant vocals and those plastic sounding synths. Overall the instrumentation is damn near faultless though, and as I pointed out before, when things really start picking up and develop into these great big symphonic sculptures of sound and everything just feels right - and even the poor 80s qualities diminish in favour of pure instrumental bliss - you kind of forget all the bad things you were thinking a few minutes earlier. D-Day Dawn sure has its moments -especially the powerful arp-synthesizer solo that pulverises through the airwaves at the end of the track. Sounds brilliant anyway you slice it!

One of my favourite moments on Departure is on the title track, when the synths form into this airy clean Japanese swirl. They still sound 80s, but there's just something about this track that sends me flying on a collision course straight into the ancient world of samurais and karate pledges. It's not about the fighting though, but those atmosphere inducing pictures I've got from movies of tiny waterfalls in a garden of stone - or the serene presence of Bonsai trees standing proudly on the edge of a mountainside caught in a mild breeze. Quite simply stunning.

Another thing about this album that really speaks to me is the more mellow sections, where things are quieted down to a mere whisper and the guitars turn acoustic and wander periodically around - up and down the fretboard in some kind of forest folky manner that takes you out into the nature and away from all the plastic qualities of the production. I love these small breaks, and again there is that unequivocal moment of afterthought in me that ponders just how this album would've sounded, if it was recorded without these rather unnatural and unflattering filters.

If you love the symphonic genre, and don't necessarily care too much about a good slice of honey inside your music - as long as it corresponds with the tunes and comes off tasting like summery nectar - then you could do worse than picking this little piece of Swedish nostalgia up. It is very dear to me - even if my tastes have shifted for the more wild and eclectic of sorts.

Guldbamsen | 3/5 |

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