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5 stars The Year 1978 , one of the most productive years of Progressive music in Europe . Specially in Italy , Netherlands , France , Germany ,Greece & Belgium . During my trips to these countries , i've discovered bands like Sensation's Fix , Machiavel , Parzival , Can , New Trolls , PFM , Banco , le Orme , PLJ band , and so many others . Surely i had also the first album released by Flairck in 1978 by hazard , from amsterdam airport , i really liked the sleeve cover first , THEN , back to Lebanon the same day , had a special flavour in my life . This album was & still the best progressive work i've ever heard in 40 years . I have no words to describe such beauty , except it was the first & the last interresting & excellent work by Flairck . Still i'm not disappointed by some of their works during 30 years . This instrumental album full of harmonies & new musical inspirations is a must for all proggers , it contains maybe the first trips in fusion between Classical / jazz / rock / blues & folk . Varieties is a real complete journey between these genres of music in a perfect globe . Tracks are all amazing , they have the same value , and i can't skip anyone . Erik Vesser was really accurate in selecting these songs , specially Variations on a lady (21 minutes) & Voorspel in Sofia , these two tracks are amazing & adorable , it's a progressive rock music played by essential classical equipments . this album took more than two years in the making , but got a perfect recognition all over Europe , specially in France / Belgium / Italy / , and went Platinium in Netherlands . So , if you haven't discover this magnificient Dutch band yet dear proggers , this is the right place to start with Flairck ( Variations on a lady ) 5 Stars for musicianship , 5 stars for all songs included , 5 stars for the technic used in combining Classical - Folk - blues - jazz & rock , and 5 stars for the sleeve cover . One of my best 10 albums ever , and a Masterpiece of progressive music , suit yourselves and Enjoy this wonderful piece of art . Highly Recommended //////////// TracksToni /////
Report this review (#179995)
Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Beyond the vaguely erotic and promising title, Flairck's debut album came out in 78, when acoustic folk groups were blossoming in Continental Europe, even if the folk music movement was getting a little passÚ by then. Whether in Germany with Emme Myldenberger, in France with La Bamboche or Tarentule or Spain's Basque Province with Izukaitz, Itoiz and Errobi, Holland came out with its own Flairck.. Lead by the Visser brothers, both guitarists, but Erik is also the main writer, the group also has Judy Schomper on violin and second writer Peter Weekers on wind instruments (flute principally), a line-up that to my knowledge would remain constant in their first four albums.

Whether Flairck is really progressive as in "prog" is rather difficult to say, because in their debut, there isn't the slightest rock element in their music. Indeed the group is more of a folk group that symphonizes its music, of a classical quartet (but fronted by two guitars) that composed some traditional folk tunes. But in either case, there are some unaccredited borrowings from classical composers, something that seems to be a Dutch specialty, as most group. The A-side is made of four instrumental "songs, starting on the Aiofe, a slow developer that sticks to acoustic guitar arpeggios with a pan flute. Quite a contrast on the much faster-paced Prelude In Sofia, where the violin and bass ensure a quick evolution to second, than third gear, with some excellent developments, turning into birdsongs. Next up is April Third and its sitar, a quiet but ultimately boring piece, even if the flute joins up. The Weekers-penned Odd Waltz closes the side in an all-too-predictable waltzes and jigs and reels and other stuff and tricks and treats?.. Next, please!!!

And indeed the second side is held mostly by the "epic" 21 mins+ title track, a slow starter on guitar and flute, before the violin enters around the third minute, before borrowed movements and reels enters the dance. A little later, a lengthy window is given to Schomper and her violin, where she chooses boldly to go Paganini, and on her return, the group finally shifts into second gear and then almost right away into third, but it's to late: when their better moments sound like the Quebecois band Maneige, in their first two albums. Indeed the whole second part of the title track finally holds its own, even if Weekers almost gets lost in his meandering flute solo. The album closes on the short Double, which is a guitar duo between the brothers, a last tidbit before saying goodbye.

If you're a fan of acoustic instrumental classical-derived folk music, Flairck's debut should be right up your alley, the only frustration being that you couldn't try different positions with their cute violinist. All macho considerations aside, the playing is very good, but rarely brilliant, and all too rare are the occasions to get excited about the music or the virtuosity of the individual members. Variations is a debut album that could be described as soporific if it wasn't for the sheer beauty of some of their passages. Let's call it sleep-inducing, without forgetting the unfulfilled promises of its title.

Report this review (#230190)
Posted Thursday, August 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Flairck are hardly known outside their home country Holland. They might have reached a few Belgian ears as well but they certainly haven't dawned on the masses of PA yet. A shame really given how much potential their music might have amongst prog fans, especially amongst those to whom a mix of acoustic instrumentation and symphonic composition sounds alluring.

Flairck are a virtuoso acoustic instrumental quartet where each member plays a whole array of different mutations of his basic instrument. Erik Visser plays 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars. He also handles most of the song writing together with flutist Peter Weekers. Brother Hans Visser does acoustic bass guitars and the violin on this debut is caressed by Judy Schomper.

The music takes inspiration from both classical and flok/world sources, and due to the influences of Celtic music, there's some similarity to early Oldfield, be it in an entirely acoustic version, which is a plus as far as I'm concerned. Further similarities can be made with the softer side of Belgian chamber rock, with a band like Aranis for example. But it can't be compared to the more avant-garde and harsher sounds of Univers Zero. Flairck keeps things very melodic and harmonious, delicate and gentle. Which doesn't mean they don't play at raging speeds!

Their debut album is an exceptional career start, there's so much inspiration in the songwriting and arrangements that each of these tunes would become classic live staples for years to come. The execution and recording of the material is generally a bit better on the live albums but that might just be because I've only heard this album on my second-hand vinyl. I'm sure it sparkles and shines in the recently released boxset!

Report this review (#268495)
Posted Friday, February 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A relaxing listen on the sofa.

I have yet to subscribe to this Flairck idea of only acoustic instruments. But this is a platinum selling album and the Dutch people cannot be that wrong ?

Well, they are not wrong because Flairck's debut album is actually a deserving platinum seller. Which means there is a lot of intelligent people around in the Netherlands...... Well, good for us.

Flairck is best taken laying down on a sofa like a beached whale on a beach. The only difference is that I am enjoying this more than this dead whale on the beach...... although the smell is probably in the same ball park. Variaties op een Dame is by no means a chill out New Age album. This album requires a lot of thinking from the listener. In particular the twenty-one minutes title track which winds it's way through various themes. The very catchy song Voorspel in Sofia is superb and the probable reason for this album's platinum status. But perhaps the best song on this album is the rather sombre opening track Aoife. The other tracks too is excellent.

Flairck is such a a total break with everything I have been listening to for the best part of thirty-five years. Adapting to their music is....... very challenging !! But even I see the merits in their music and their enthusiasm is very infectious. This album is actually the first Flairck studio album I really feel I have grasped........... and really embraced. At the end of this rainbow, I have found this to be a four star album, but barely that. This one is recommended to those who want something more out of prog rock than the usual guitar- moog-vocalist-bass-drums setup. Be prepared to be shocked, though.

4 stars

Report this review (#272475)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Acoustic ensemble from Ulvenhout, Holland, performing around guitarist Erik Vesser.The first rehearsals of the band took part in 1976 with Peter Weekers on wind instruments, Erik's brother Hans on bass and female violin player Judy Schomper.Two years of preparation followed before the band signs a deal with Polydor and releases the debut ''Variaties op een Dame'' in 1978.

Flairck were like no other band regarding Holland, they were a band with an all acoustic but very rich sound, somewhat divided between Classical Chamber Music and Folk.The first side of the original LP contains rather laid-back musicianship with many folk references, the guitar playing of Erik Visser remains in the background with no particular surprises and the majority of the instrumental arrangements is led by the talent of Weekers and its dominant work on flutes, pipes and whistles.On ''Oneven wals'' though things become more serious.Plenty of great interplays and beautiful harmonies on an uptempo acoustic piece full of lovely soundscapes and balanced work on bass, flutes, violins and acoustic guitars, sounds a delicate piece stepping both into symphonic and folk territories.Of course the album is mostly known for its almost sidelong eponymous suite, clocking at 21 min. long, and offering all the basic tunes met in the first side.From melancholic passages with crying violins and depressive flutes to energetic Chamber Music with Classical references and some nice, fiery battles between the musicians.A great track, however the middle-based violin solo prevents from being rather great.

The album received some high praise back in the days, winning several awards as a very innovative release.And actually it is, with its deep energy hidden behind the acoustic instrumentation making it almost a must-have for fans of challenging acoustic experiences.But even a more rock-friendly prog fan will met some desired interplays in here.Recommended.

Report this review (#672982)
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Well, I have never heard of this dutch quartet until my good friend Erik Neuteboom told me about them.Variates Op Een Dame is their first album, released in 1978. It really surprised me a lot, since the music here is totally acoustic and does not even have drums. So it is not rock. In fact, it is hard to label their sound because Flairck is simply too different, even if their influences are easy to tell: folk, classical, jazz, eastern and world music in general, among others. All wrapped up by their sheer musicianship and excellent songwriting abilities. The instrumentation is quite simple: acoustic guitars, violin, flutes and acoustic bass guitar. Some odd instruments like sitar and pan flute are also included, although the booklet does not say exactly who played what.

Although there is no rock, the songs are quite energetic most of the time, showing off both their great technic and fine craftsmanship in penning good tunes. Sometimes they take their virtuosity a little too far, as most 70┬┤s acts did, but that┬┤s forgivable. After all, it was hip then and those moments don┬┤t last too long. And their sound is definitely progressive: just listen to the many variations and mood swings of the title track with its 21:25 running time. Not too many groups can hold anyone┬┤s attention for that long in a purely instrumental basis, with such few instruments and no electronic effects at all. Besides the tunes are quite complex and surely takes time to fully enjoy the music here, but you┬┤ll be reward if you do listen carefully. There are no lows and all the tracks are very strong. I really liked the even flow of the songs, making it a very nice listen all the way through. All is helped by the brilliant recording, that balanced the instruments well and clear. The cover is also great.

Conclusion: quite a debut! it┬┤s hard to believe they started in a year when prog music in general were in such low moment. If you like something original and acoustic, or good music in general, this is a CD you can not miss. I┬┤m looking forward to hear their next works. Recommended!

Report this review (#1738017)
Posted Monday, June 26, 2017 | Review Permalink

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