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

SYMPHONIC PICTURES

Schicke Fuhrs & Frohling

 

Symphonic Prog

3.93 | 69 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

RoyalJelly
5 stars If I were asked to explain to someone what is progressive music (at least as we understood that concept in the 70s), I would play them this album. This is a powerful trio that unleashes the full arsenal of symphonic prog weaponry, fat, rich synths, wailing mellotrons, blistering guitar (from a double-neck with bass), and very orchestral percussion and arrangements. At the time this came out, this music was at the edge of our tolerance for dissonance (weaned on Yes & Genesis as we were)...after years of Crimson, Henry Cow, Art Bears, Zorn, etc., it sounds pretty tame today by comparison, but still packs a wallop. Our impression of Germans was strongly influenced by these teutonic, pounding marches and merciless non-tonal themes.

"Tao" announces the bands intentions in full, hard progressive with no frills or knick-knacks, just gorgeous melodies and big orchestration, from a tight, economical unit. The keyboards are always especially sharp and effective, from the fat Moog bass to the cutting Clavinets and gorgeous but strangely threatening Mellotron strings. Piano is also used very sparsely and exactly, often for single line, chromatic figures. The arrangements are such that the separate instruments can always be clearly heard & recognized. "Tao" is the more up theme of the album, "Solution" and "Sundrops" are more like pleasant interludes to recover from the heavy onslaughts. "Dialogue" is really a masterful one, another mechanically repetitive atonal theme for piano, later doubled on Clavinet, that doesn't fail to develop, and find it's opposite response in a burning guitar melody.

The epic is "Pictures" itself, which opens apocalyptically with an ominously distorted Mellotron choir...the modernistic, simple motif which follows mutates from Mellotron strings to Mellotron flute, before being drowned out by a marching horde led on by the deranged Mellotron choir. It's rare that Mellotrons are used so much to play melodies as they are here, but SFF arrange them deftly, so that somewhat simple atonal figures are repeated, then doubled on synths or Clavinets, and the Mellotrons fall back into a scary string tapestry supporting the rest. "Pictures" is a very satisfying composition, not long for the sake of it, but each theme is carefully developed and given the right amount of time to come to fruition. It's no wonder that Zappa was impressed enough by the demo of this album that he planned to produce it, but bowed out when his work on the masterpiece "One Size Fits All" didn't permit it.

My CD of Symphonic Pictures is a double, coupled with their next album, Sunburst, and some live versions of that as well. One can only imagine that the expectations were great after this stunning debut, but the followup is pale, harmless and already clichéd prog with none of the adventurous, challenging spirit of Pictures. But for all lovers of 70s progressive, Symphonic Pictures will not fail to delight and astound.

RoyalJelly | 5/5 |

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