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5 stars Leap Day from the Netherlands is not just another progrock outfit. The band consists of six very experienced musicians, known from other bands like Nice Beaver, Flamborough Head, Trion and King Eider.

When I first listened to their cd 'Awaking The Muse' I was pretty amazed! I expected 'just another neo-prog act' to be honest. Nothing more, nothing less. Plenty of bands these days sound all the same, clones of the greater ones and no face of their own. Leap Day is quite different!

The influences of the great progacts from the past and beyond are clearly there, but Leap Day has its own unique sound. Not because of the instruments they use, not because of the structure of the songs. No, those are familiair. Its because of their songWRITING.

The compostitions have an emphasis on very strong melodies, both vocal and instrumental, which make every song a real treat to listen to! It brings a permanent smile to your face. I can't say this hasn't been done before, for it has. Of course it has. But somehow they make you believe they reïnvented the genre. I think it is because of their way of composing. The booklet tells me there are 4 composing members, but Gert Van Engeleburg (one of the keyboardplayers) seems to do most of the writing. Interesting, because he's one of the bandmembers who isn't known from the acts I mentioned before.

The songs provide the best 55 minutes of music I have heard in a long time. Each song tumbles from one highlight to another. The music crawls under your skin, the melodies keep on running in your head. And thumbs up for Eddie Mulder. He makes his guitar sing in every song. Hackett comes to mind. Yes, he's my guitarhero for sure!

I am overwhelmed. This debut album just keeps on spinning in my player. A real unexpected but pleasant surprise for me. This one will end on top of my list for 2009 for sure.

Report this review (#241249)
Posted Friday, September 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Excellent debut album by this outstanding dutch band. Oh well, what should I expect from a group of such seasoned musicians like these? itīs a dream team, really. Drummer Koen Roozen and guitarrist Eddie Moulder comes from Hollandīs neo prog king Flamborough Head, while keyboardist Derk Evert Waalkens worked with King Eider. Peter Stel (bass) came via Nice Beaver. With a such illustrious members, one can only expect something extraordinaire, and so is Awaking The Muse.

Ok, maybe no great novelties here or anything groundbreaking. Only fantastic, emotional, well written and perfomed mix of symphonic and neo prog. And , if happen to know his work with FH, there are simply wonderful solos by Moulder (who also shines on the instrumental project Trion). The band has two keybaords players which gives the a beautiful, multi layred sound. That might work wonders on live shows. I have to say that, at first, I did not like Jos Hartevelds voice very much. After a few spins I changed my mind and now I think he fits in quite well.

Of course all this technique would not be enough to produce a good CD, but those guys proved to be also fine writers. All tracks are good with no real lows, you can actually listen to the whole album with the same pleasure from start to finish. Highlights are surely Moulderīs brilliant soloing: the guy has a style that reminds me of Steve Hackett, Jan Akkermann, Andrew Latimer and Mirek Gil. And still he has a personal way to deliver terrific lines all over the CD. The rhythm section is strong and versatile, while the keyboards are varied and tasteful. Production could be quite better, though (the drums suffered the most damage, as far as I can hear). But the band does their job with such passion and skillfullness such potencial problem becomes just a minor annoying detail.

Conclusion: greatt first one! I wonīt give Awaking The Muse a five star rating yet because even if the results here are brilliant, I still think there is room for some improvement, specially if you consider the excellence of their members. Still, a 4,5 rating is quite fitting. A band to watch for. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#242546)
Posted Friday, October 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Here is another expected jewel from the Prog factory/windmill that is Holland. This is a collaborative cooperative with prolific members from Flamborough Head/Trion, King Eider, Nice Beaver and Pink Floyd Project, getting into a common groove and recording this fine Neo/symph debut. The Dutch are such a talented lot that constantly excel at maintaining a high quality of melody and stellar musicianship in everything they attempt. With 2 keyboardists , the sound is a lush launching pad for Eddie Mulder's flamboyant guitar soloing , hints of all the prog greats are to be found in his incisive yet harmonious style. Vocals are ably handled, nothing within the realm of genius but fit in well into the scheme of things. As usual with bands from Holland, the rhythm section is rock solid. But what really stands out are the cleverly appealing compositions , mostly penned by unknown entity and keyboardist Gert van Engelenburg, that evoke a myriad of pastelled impressions , such as the masterfully cinematographic "Secret Gardener", the Kubrick-hinted "Eyes Wide Open" with its towering axe solo and the veiled proggy allusions to Kraftwerk on "Shop Window Dummies". All 3 tracks are exceptional. The opener "When Leaves Fall' (how appropriate) is quite remindful of German band Sylvan, proposing a dark, less metallic yet moody neo- prog that has some tortured strains within the rumbling grooves, sullen organ blasts, imposing guitar revelations and an ornate piano at the right time. The singing is catchy and highly infectious . The gorgeous "Sandgrains" has a sublime guitar theme that is both grandiose and effervescent, a heartfelt vocal only confirms the passion extolled, a rumbling slice of high-gloss progressive rock that is anything but pedestrian. Certainly fans of IQ, Pendragon, Arena, Clepsydra and Marillion will love what their ears are hearing. The epic 9 minute + "Little Green Men" puts a final touch of class on the deal, a musical whirling dervish of mood and sound, some whistling synthesizers diving within the roaring organ pools and further propulsed by some determined beats. As proven with the Trion project, guitarist Eddie Mulder at times reminds me of Collage/Believe fret legend Mirek Gil in that his solos just burst out of nowhere and gleam with effusive class. With the recent arrival of Knight Area's third opus, my musical universe is heavily "orange", some good needed prog vitamin C, just before the onset of Canadian winter. This is an exceptional first offering and all fans of quality music should check Leap Day out. Great atrwork to boot. 5 sauntering orange footballs
Report this review (#247497)
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars 2009 is a good year for what we call (because of lack of better terms) Neo-prog. Also, as has been already said, this is Holland. And what more, it's collaboration between some of the finest ones. I'm not sure if it's wise to give automatically 5-star then, just because of this, so I'll stay cold for a little longer.

You like symphonic ? You'll like it, there's not reason why not. Vocals are fine (even I can't judge whether his accent is so bad, or not), sound is mature (even it's basically debut) and variable. That's what I like a lot, when album has a lot of elements that makes music, inside. And interesting, original lyrics and themes (Shop Window Dummies). Songs are long, something similar what we could hear in Flamborough Head's work, so except long, dreamy guitar solos. But isn't this getting all to much the same ? I mean it's good music and they're trying, but there's not much space for true creativity. It's dignified successor and maybe it's just me, becoming more and more filled by all this Neo-prog work I've been recently listening too, but maybe there's more. Nevermind, let's be fair and give

4(+), which they for sure deserves.

Report this review (#253274)
Posted Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars If 2009 was a good year for Neo-Prog, I must have died and gone to heaven. I first heard this outfit on Morow, and something about them sunk in deep and grabbed hold with sharpened tentacles. It's neo-, yes. It's symphonic, check. But then it's something more. An intangible. It's melodic and catchy without being trite or "heard that before". Something about this band - and I think it's the use of two keyboard players and the quirky, Rick Davies-ish vocals - that summons images of (are you ready for this?) Supertramp!! And that's a really, strong positive, because Supertramp was one of THE most unique bands that ever layed music to grooves. My personal favorite tracks on this marvelous debut CD are "Eyes Wide Open" and "Secret Gardener" (with its little elf-like snickers every here and there). This music is somber, sober, yet somehow playful as well. It is (in my mind) one of THE best-kept secrets (well, they may not be a secret much longer) out of Holland, that hotbed of neo- and symphonic-progressive rock. Hopefully, this band's wellspring of creativity will continue to thrive for a long time. They are a joy to listen to. My rating: 4-1/2 stars
Report this review (#265345)
Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A good and promising debut effort from this newly formed Dutch band.

Sporting members from several more or less well known bands, this recent addition to the Dutch prog scene are seasoned musicians with lots of experience, which is easily detectable in the compositions. Smooth, melodic constructions, they flow with ease from passage to passage and theme to theme. They might lack a bit of nerve and tension at times though, some of the songs become perhaps too gentle and slick.

In terms of musical style we're treated to neo-prog of the vintage variety here, with nods in the directions of Camel and Genesis as far as possible influences go, carefully spiced with AOR leanings in a manner that made me think of Ambrosia's efforts in just that department. Lush sonic tapestries with multiple keyboard layers and melodic, gentle guitar soloing will be found aplenty on this album, and the lead vocals calm and soothing with a few subtle dramatic flairs on select occasions. Melody and harmony are keywords for this production though, and if that sounds enticing you'll most probably enjoy this effort.

Report this review (#269030)
Posted Sunday, February 28, 2010 | Review Permalink

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