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Versus X - Disturbance CD (album) cover

DISTURBANCE

Versus X

Crossover Prog


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Marcelo
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Amazing effort! Arne Schäfer voice reminds the most expressive Peter Hammill, and the music is beautiful since the first minute to the last. Absolutely not a clone, but the feeling of VDGG is present at this great album. Just three long tracks, but -curiously- it seems too short and never boring. First cut, "Curtain Call", is a real winner and my favorite, based on a grand piano rythm, and the other tracks are at the same level. VERSUS X is, today, one of the better bands I heard. Extremely recommended.
Report this review (#7612)
Posted Sunday, February 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars As newer bands come into our musial sphere of interest, some lack originality or plain inventiveness. As it is the case here, this is not to say that it is not worthy , far from it, but there is a lack of purpose. I saw the Band live in Verviers and was probably in the small minority that got bored halfway into the concert. This is definitely because every number sounds like the prevous and the following ones. The vocals are not really fascinating - I might even say just adequate . Also in the keyboard dept. the piano is present and dominant on every number and this is valid for the Zone album. But all is not dark as I give 3 stars and this is supposed to mean good.
Report this review (#7613)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
maani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Founding Moderator
1 stars This is possibly the most cheerfully inept album in prog-rock. And despite my one-star rating, I very much encourage my colleagues to check this one out. If it wasn't so amusing, it would almost be painful to listen to. And I'm not being facetious: this really is one of the most amusing albums I've ever heard. In fact, there is something I have always wanted to say about an album, but never found one to say it about, until now: hey, guys - the emperor has no clothes!! I can't believe that anyone could be bamboozled by this. Throughout most of the three overly (!!) extended "compositions" (a term to be used loosely here...), it sounds very much like they are making it up as they go along. The lyrics are among the silliest I've ever heard, and the vocals - sung with SO much sincerity - are so bad they're laughable. In addition, there are places where the production makes the band sound like a prog garage band making a demo. Despite a few (too few) listenable sections, this is an object lesson in how NOT to make a prog-rock album. (As an aside, the description of Versus X comparing them to Crimson, ELP and VDGG is a serious insult to those bands...)
Report this review (#7614)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars While i cannot hear the resemblance to VDGG,King Crimson or indeed ELP. I do detect a young Greg Lake in the vocal trimmings although not as strong/secure as Lake.With 3 long track there are plenty of room to improvise, and here i concur with my good colleague Maani,it sounds like they do just that. But dont get me wrong i rather like it improv. or not...i think they have something.The inspiration certainly hails from the seventies prog scene.So 3 stars from me as there is something in here..maybe several more listenings would help?!
Report this review (#7615)
Posted Thursday, March 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I regard Versus X as one of the most interesting new symphonic bands nowadays, and perhaps I feel this way because I really love the refurbishment of the typical vintage symphonic prog with a hard rocking twist (which is the same reason why I enjoy Cliffhanger, Discipline, A Piedi Nudi and Daghmar so much). Yet, this band keeps itself well apart from the realms of prog metal: the guitar riffs and solos do not take center stage too often, nor do they state the main basis for the tracks - the latter is a responsibility left to the keyboardist's control (mostly on his piano chord progressions), and the former is no man's land, since Versus X seems to be primarily preoccupied with the subtle development of ambiences and textures than with the delivery of clear melodies and pompous orchestrations. "Disturbance" was my first versus X experience, and from the few posterior experiences I've had regarding their music, I can tell that this album is very typical of them. Of course, they are not alien to prog pomposity, as the length of all three tracks of the album does undoubtedly show - the musical ideas are expanded, augmented and articulated in an ambitious manner, but this band's ideology is more focused on basic harmonies than on epic melodies. Some may get disappointed at this, and therefore, suspect that these guys simply suffer from lack of writing skills; the way I see it, the band's talent for creating tension is a major asset, which is why I find "Disturbance" so enjoyable. The sound of versus X is basically a re- elaboration of vintage symph prog (Yes, Genesis) with a slightly increased accent on the rocky side of things and occasional hints to dissonance and tension (which relate them to VDGG on a superficial level): the guitar solos are mostly Hackett-inspired, while the keyboard parts are something like a down-to-earth Wakeman-meets-Orford. The opener, paradoxically titled 'Curtain Call', is an excellent showcase for well-articulated cohesion of diverse musical ideas: the sense of energy stays pretty even all throughout the varying moods and transitions between motifs. 'In Silent Age' goes to more somber places, adding more drama to the fold, although it fails to come up as cohesive as the preceding track. The third and final suite takes the best of both aforementioned tracks: the 22 ½ minute long 'The Mirror of Division' brings the best of Versus X in its most robust expression for this album. Excellent as it is, IMHO "Disturbance" deserves a 4- star rating.
Report this review (#35447)
Posted Monday, June 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars A very good, if not exactly excellent album. This band in general gives me a sense of some decent hobbiests making prog albums in their spare time. I think Arne is a chemist by trade, so this may be an accurate description of this band. Judgeing by the time in between releases, it does seem that this is not a full time gig for any of the members (but that is certainly not unusual in the modern prog scene).

Having said all that, I like this album quite a bit. The first song is, so far, the best Versus X song I have heard. It has a very nice, if quite long, development of themes and melodies and the most understandable and well written lyrics of any of their songs. The vocals I've never had a problem with. They are not particularly great, but they are not bad by any stretch. The are considerably better than many neo-prog bands I've heard, though I'm not sure this band is really neo-prog (I suppose in a fairly loose definition of that term they could be). In any case, the standout for me is the piano playing of Nahm. I love his playing and I think he really gives this band some character and a sense of technical proficiency. Because, I must admit, they don't come off as the most technically impressive band I've heard. But that doesn't mean they are not good, far from it. I've heard far worse prog albums for sure. But I'm making this sound worse than it is I think.

The second track is much slower paced and darker, and I think takes a bit too long to develop and doesn't really do much when it does. The lyrics are more abtuse and it's more obvious that he is not a native English speaker, and they are quite dreary as well. But it has interesting bits. Probably the only one I find to be a bit too long and not quite on par with the other two tracks. Not a bad song overall though.

The final epic track (I suppose they all are pretty epic in length, if not scope) is the most traditionally prog in its development, even containing a somewhat uplifting finale. It features a number of changes as well as faster paced material mixed with slower paced sections. Overall, a very good song.

This is not one of the best bands in prog music, no doubt. But there is something I really enjoy about their dark, fairly technical compositions. The lyrics are often hard to understand, but that is not a big issue for me. Shaffer's vocals are nearly without an accent (except on the pronunciation of certain words) and are pleasant enough in a nondescript yet competent fasion. So for myself, this was an excellent addition to my collection. To others, I would say this is good but non-essential. So 3.5 stars then. Rounded down, because really in the scope of this site, this band doesn't stand out nearly as much as a lot of others. Neo fans in particular may want to give it a listen though.

Report this review (#99386)
Posted Friday, November 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Versus X is a German band mainly dominated by singer/guitarist Arne Schäfer and keyboarder Ekkehard Nahm that released three studio albums in the tradition of 70's classical Prog. In terms of style (not quite in terms of quality) comparisons could be drawn to Gabriel-era Genesis. A short look at the tracklist actually tells already everything what's to be expected from this record here "Disturbance", their second one. Only 3 tracks and the shortest with almost 17 min running time, thus genre-typical lengthy epic symphonic rock suites we're dealing here with. Well as mentioned already this work isn't quite on par with Genesis' best ones not to speak about comparisons to Crimson or VDGG which are drawn by some reviewers. Also I can't quite follow why Schäfer's vocals have been compared sometimes with Hammill's ones, I think this is way off. Nonetheless these three compositions presented here are anything than a complete failure or a boring affair, at least for lovers of long epic tracks. From the instrumental point, at least speaking about guitar and keyboard (plenty of acoustic piano sound) everything's fine here, only bass and drums pale a bit besides those and the vocals which are quite okay but really not spectacular might be something to get used to. The compositions are rather complex with many twists and turns but as well memorable after a couple of spins. Each track is telling some story, "Curtain Call" deals with the role of the artist within the society, "In Silent Age" is an apocalyptic vision from the viewpoint of an artist and "The Mirror of Division" is about the human imagination which seems insufficient to really understand the nature of things in cosmic and microscopic scales. For those interested in more details I'd recommend to visit the band's website, some mp3 samples can be found there as well. As far as I know Versus X has disbanded meanwhile and multi-instrumentalist / vocalist Arne Schäfer carried on as the one-man-band Apogee. I listened so far only to one album by that one which could not fascinate me as much as the ones of Versus X. I wouldn't consider neither of their releases essential but both this one and its follow-up are an enjoyable and interesting listen, at least if following the lyrics a bit closer. I think this band is worth to be checked out by any fan of epic symphonic Prog. ***1/2 really!!
Report this review (#109983)
Posted Wednesday, January 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars A very good, if not exactly excellent album. This band in general gives me a sense of some decent hobbyists making prog albums in their spare time. I think Arne is a chemist by trade, so this may be an accurate description of this band. Judging by the time in between releases, it does seem that this is not a full time gig for any of the members (but that is certainly not unusual in the modern prog scene).

Having said all that, I like this album quite a bit. The first song is, so far, the best Versus X song I have heard. It has a very nice, if quite long, development of themes and melodies and the most understandable and well written lyrics of any of their songs. The vocals I've never had a problem with. They are not particularly great, but they are not bad by any stretch. The are considerably better than many neo-prog bands I've heard, though I'm not sure this band is really neo-prog (they are certainly NOT crossover, which is what they are categorized under here......I can only assume that the people who put them in that category never listened to any of their albums after the debut). In any case, the standout for me is the piano playing of Nahm. I love his playing and I think he really gives this band some character and a sense of technical proficiency. Because, I must admit, they don't come off as the most technically impressive band I've heard. But that doesn't mean they are not good, far from it. I've heard far worse prog albums for sure. But I'm making this sound worse than it is I think.

The second track is much slower paced and darker, and I think takes a bit too long to develop and doesn't really do much when it does. The lyrics are more obtuse and it's more obvious that he is not a native English speaker, and they are quite dreary as well. But it has interesting bits. Probably the only one I find to be a bit too long and not quite on par with the other two tracks. Not a bad song overall though.

The final epic track (I suppose they all are pretty epic in length, if not scope) is the most traditionally prog in its development, even containing a somewhat uplifting finale. It features a number of changes as well as faster paced material mixed with slower paced sections. Overall, a very good song.

This is not one of the best bands in prog music, no doubt. But there is something I really enjoy about their dark, fairly technical compositions. The lyrics are often hard to understand, but that is not a big issue for me. Shaffer's vocals are nearly without an accent (except on the pronunciation of certain words) and are pleasant enough in a nondescript yet competent fashion. So for myself, this was an excellent addition to my collection. To others, I would say this is good but non-essential. So 3.5 stars then. Rounded down, because really in the scope of this site, this band doesn't stand out nearly as much as a lot of others. Neo fans in particular may want to give it a listen though.

Report this review (#226715)
Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album took me by surprise i'll tell you that. VERSUS X are a German band who on this their second album have created three long tracks totalling 57 minutes.The music is mostly vocal and keyboard led with contrasts between the mellow and heavier sections throughout. It does keep the same kind of style and mood throughout. I did think of GENESIS but the overall feel reminded me of SINGULARITY's "Between Sunlight And Shadow". Both albums draw me to the lyrics more than I usually am, and for whatever reason I just enjoy the mood that is offered even though objectively i'm a little surprised i'm so into this.

"Curtain Call" kicks in with some heaviness before a minute. Organ plays over top then piano.It settles before 3 minutes with vocals and piano. Vocals stop and synths roll in at 5 minutes. Guitar before 6 minutes. Vocals are back before 8 minutes with piano. Heaviness starts to build before 10 minutes. Piano only as we get a calm a minute later. It picks up with different instruments taking the lead to the end.

"In Silent Age" opens with solo piano as reserved vocals join in. Drums and a fuller sound before 2 minutes. The tempo picks up 3 minutes in. Piano and synths only 5 minutes in. It picks up again with vocals before 7 1/2 minutes. Piano and synths as it settles back. Vocals after 10 minutes. It kicks back in after 14 minutes for a powerful conclusion. "The Mirror Of Division" builds as synths wash in. Guitar then takes the lead after a minute then organ. A calm 3 1/2 minutes in with organ then vocals. Piano too. It kicks back in at 5 1/2 minutes before settling a minute later. Vocals too. It's heavier before 8 minutes. It settles back with piano and synths 10 1/2 minutes in. Vocals are back too. The tempo picks up then the guitar leads. Synths and piano only after 16 minutes and vocals return as well. It kicks in before 19 minutes. Nice. Synths join in then vocals before 21 minutes for the emotional ending.

Sure the music here gets predictable fairly quickly but I don't care this album just draws me in for some reason.

Report this review (#292358)
Posted Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Versus X from Germany is one of the most intresting bands I've heared lately. Conducted by excellent musician Arne Schäfer responsable for guitars and vocals here, he is also the main man on Apogee band. Second album released in 1996 named Disturbance issued at Musea records, to me is a total winner, to discribe it in one word - intresting. Only 3 pieces features here, but all lenghty, one of them clocking around 23 min and is a killer one in every aspect. Dark moody atmosphere grace this album with long instrumental passages , alternating from mellow to more uptempo in a good and very intresting manner. Quite complex eclatic prog , elaborated arrangements, piano , keyboards and guitar having an important role here, sometimes remind me a lot of Genesis - Selling England by the pound era, specially on piano parts. very good are the guitar lines, dark , very spacey with a clear tone and very inventive partrs. Is a realy nice surprise this album for me, even I have it for some years only now I have the time to re listen carafuly. This is the kind of prog that I like, complex, elaborated with plenty of great instrumental parts, Forte piece I think the last one The Mirror of Division , is absolutly a killer one, Curtain fall comes second. I don't realy know why is so low rated this album, aswell as the next one, to me Disturbance is a damn fine release that needs a far more exposure. Maybe the vocals are not among the best I've heared but fits perfect in the atmosphere of the album. 4 stars easy, among my fav albums ever.
Report this review (#753385)
Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars VERSUS X is a symphonic prog band hailing from Frankfurt am Main, Germany and formed in 1991 and has released quite a few albums to date. DISTURBANCE is the second release and my first encounter but one that is pleasing and begs me to explore the band's output. The band plays a complex blend of classically oriented heavy rock with elements of jazz. With three sprawling tracks clocking in at just a few minutes short of an hour, you can tell you're getting a progressive music marathon with this one. This is yet another prog band to grace the Musea label.

What you can expect is some symphonic Genesis inspired types of melodies that tend to repeat and intertwine with other melodies and incorporating lots of dynamic passages and trade-offs with plenty of varied time signatures. The three tracks are quite complex stirring all kinds of classical piano runs, rock guitar parts and multi-hued atmospheres into the cauldron. The musicians are all top notch and the only aspect of this music that turns me off are the mediocre vocals of Arne Schäfer however the lyrics are intelligible and interesting.

This is truly an escapist's prog experience here. There is a very abstract feel to the whole thing as it can meander in different directions with the instrumental parts being the strongest feature here. There are long sprawling organ and piano runs, guitar eruptions and plenty of pastoral lulling segments. With the shortest of the three tracks being 16:47 and the longest being 22:30 this is truly an album for active listeners only that can patiently travel the snail's pace developments of the compositions. This album has very good compositional structure and i would love to like it more but the vocals are just too weak for my tastes. I am sold on checking out future releases though because this is another band filled with potential that displays itself on this release albeit unevenly. 3.5 rounded down

Report this review (#1394545)
Posted Sunday, April 5, 2015 | Review Permalink

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