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Wallenstein - Cosmic Century CD (album) cover

COSMIC CENTURY

Wallenstein

Symphonic Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

Cosmic Joker came from the background of this German project Cosmic Joker to which Dollasse , Grosskopf & Co. were participating. This context solidly coloured off on the Wallenstein album but not only on the title. As the title indicates the music is more of a cosmic nature and less to my liking than the debut album, but still worthy of a spin.

At least the group had changed musical direction after the dead-end MU album. One of the good point is that bassist Berkers is now gone and his taste for straight songwriting (which he never wrote in Wallenstein, since Dollasse is the sole composer) and Dollasse 's own songwriting took a different approach.

Report this review (#19292)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wallenstein belongs to the golden age of german prog rock. Their music is not krautrock despite that this album is well influenced by the work of Jurgen Dollase in the Cosmic Jokers project...Wallenstein puts forward a fast and furious neo-classical progressive rock. The epic and symphonic keyboards parts played mostly in arpeggios and falling scales are brighten up by interesting guitars and drums lines. According to me this group is actually (and unfortunately) eclipsed by english prog artists from the same period... To conclude I can say that "Cosmic Century" is a curiosity to re-discover.
Report this review (#19290)
Posted Tuesday, April 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Don't be put off by all the embarrassing "Symphonic Rock Orchestra" sales talk: WALLENSTEIN was one Classical Rock outfit that was at least able to back up its bourgeois pretensions with some good music. Even so, their third album (in less than two years) needs to be heard in the proper musical context of the early 1970s, a time when, for better or worse, every forward thinking rock 'n' roller aspired to the finer elements of high culture.

Keyboardist / composer Jürgen Dollase had flirted with quasi-orchestral arrangements before, but "Cosmic Century" saw the first real flowering of his classical training, cued in part by an adjustment to the instrumental line-up of the band. Guitarist Bill Barone, such a commanding presence on their earlier "Blitzkrieg" (a title which pretty much summed up the album), was pushed more into the background mix here, forced to share the soundstage with new violinist Joachim Reiser, a move that effectively softened some of the rougher edges of the music. But don't worry, there's still plenty of residual rock energy: listen to the brief blues boogie at the end of "The Marvelous Child", or the almost comical pitch-bending guitar clichés in "The Cosmic Couriers Meet South Philly Willy" (a title that single-handedly deflates any accusations of pomposity the band ever suffered).

Sure, the album might be more song oriented than its predecessors, but in the best Prog Rock tradition the songs still sound more like instrumentals, with occasional vocal detours. And, as suggested by the title, there's a certain Space Rock bias to the music, most of it achieved through an over-reliance on echo and reverb effects, and the phased hi-hat of drummer Harald Großkopf, which is about as cutting edge as this disarmingly low-tech production ever gets.

A few tasteful synthesizers have been added to Jürgen Dollase's keyboard arsenal, but are used only sparingly, compared at least to (among many, many others) his compatriot Jürgen Fritz of TRIUMVIRAT. The grand piano remained his instrument of choice, dramatically so on several tracks (the stately "Song of Wire", or the aptly titled "Grand Piano"). And his insecure tenor voice is still very much in evidence. Dollase was never the most confident singer, but his first appearance here, midway into the album opener "Rory Blanchford", is a model of atmospheric subtlety, enhanced as always by his own deft touch at the mellotron. So why is it, whenever he opens his mouth, that I'm reminded of Chet Baker?

In the end the music succeeds in locating that elusive tertium quid between rock and the classics, but I admit to calling it my own favorite WALLENSTEIN album for reasons which have nothing to do with aesthetics or taste. Before I bought the CD it survived in my collection only as a barely audible cassette tape, which over the years became almost an icon of all the lost musical treasures from my wayward youth. It was like a mystical relic from a bygone Golden Age, but unlike Sir Percival I got to keep my Holy Grail when I found it again in digital form.

Report this review (#19294)
Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars While I prefer the guitar driven, Krautrock flavoured "Blitzkrieg" to this one, I must say that this symphonic album is very pleasing in a different way. Guitarist Bill Barone seems to share the spotlight with recently added violinist Joachim Reiser, but they both take a back seat to the piano play of band leader Jurgen Dollase. I've been listening to this one a lot recently not sure what rating to give it, but i've come around and can now appreciate it's beauty and charm. Even the vocals that some might think are weak, are to me fragile and suit the music perfectly.The title "Cosmic Century" might be a little misleading because this has nothing much to do with Psychedelic / Space or Krautrock music.

"Rory Blanchford" opens with slowly played piano as violin, drums and mellotron join in. This is probably the most mellotron laden tune on here.The guitar is raw 3 minutes in as the bass throbs. We get vocals for the first time 5 1/2 minutes in. A guitar outburst 8 minutes in before the song ends with vocals and a calm. "Grand Piano" is by far the shortest track at just over 2 minutes. As the title suggests this is all about the piano from beginning to end. "Silver Arms" has such a good intro of piano, violin, bass, guitar and drums. And check out the organ a minute in. Mellotron. Scorching guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. A calm with fragile vocals 4 minutes in while the guitar cries out a minute later. Some guest flute comes in. Piano, drums and violin lead the way 6 1/2 minutes in as the tempo picks up. Guitar is back before the song is over.

"The Marvelous Child" opens with what sounds like spacey or fuzzy organ melodies. A minute in the tempo picks up with drums and piano leading the way. Vocals 3 1/2 minutes in. Lots of piano in this one. Prominant guitar after 4 1/2 minutes and later 6 minutes in. "Song Of Wire" is my favourite song on here, it opens with piano as drums come in and vocals 1 minute in. Great bombastic sound 2 minutes in that reminds me of FLOYD. Vocals are excellent 2 1/2 minutes in. Fragile vocals again 6 minutes in as themes are repeated. "The Cosmic Couriers Meet South Philly Willy" is an instrumental that opens with piano and drums.The guitar before a minute is quite raw. More great sounding guitar 2 1/2 minutes in that goes on and on. Blistering guitar 5 minutes in.Lots of piano 6 minutes in. I just love listening to this tune.

This is a special album, and that's not surprising considering Tom Ozric recommended it. It just took me some time to hear and feel a little of what he experiences with this record.

Report this review (#170437)
Posted Friday, May 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Third album of Wallenstein from 1973 is a good symphonic prog release but less enjoyble than the previous one. Here they develop even further the symphonic prog elements that give them a chance to survive in the early '70's. While is not a groundbraking album is pleasent most of the time, the keyboards of Dollase sounds very strange sometimes , but in other cases they are a real treat like on first track the opening The Symphonic Rock Orchestra - Rory Blanchford and Silver arms, great tunes that show us that Wallenstein are still in bussines. I don't know why but sometimes the voice of Dollase are to mellow, not quite on par with the music wich sometimes is very heavy work, specially the guitar gives this ton, hevy riffs over heavy solos combined with symphonic prog aproach, great after all. Again I mentioning that Dollase voice and manner of interpretation remaind me of Shulman from Gentle Giant (ok, keep the proportions between them).The bass of Dieter Meier truly shines on Silver arms, great. All in all far from being a bad album, but for sure less enjoyble than the predecesors, at least for me , Cosmic century keep the prog music at a constant level, they never gain very much aplause and they were always in the shadow of big names from that period. 3 stars for Cosmic century, worth some spinings.
Report this review (#184109)
Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars What a piece of.......

I am far outside my comfort zone with this album. It says symphonic prog on the tin, but the contents is a kind of quirky rock of some sort. OK, maybe it is symphonic prog, but not the kind of symphonic prog I recognice. I guess a simplified version of GENTLE GIANT with some heavy guitars and emotional overkill and pathos fits the description here. The music is largely devoid of good melodies and ideas. It is running empty. The Moog is nice, but that's all. I have given this album plenty of time and it has yet to sink in. My place on this planet is limited. I do not want to spend it on an album like this. The only saving grace here is the opening track The Symphonic Rock Orchestra which is an OK track with grandious Moog and guitars. The rest of the album is in the abysmal league of rock. Nuff said.

2 stars

Report this review (#201252)
Posted Saturday, January 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wallenstein «Cosmic Century» is a «must» and an essential for all real progressive rock collection.

This group was one the few european groups to have the «privilege» of having their album imported on a steady basis in North America. They were standing at the same level as Genesis, Van Der Graaf, PFM and Gentle Giant ! Yes, all these groups at their first path in prog music in beginning the '70s, were almost unknowned and moreoften, their shows in Canada and USA were rarely «sold out» ... and in medium size hall ! So except for few upcoming rising group like Pink Floyd and King Crimson (these 2 groups were also under the radar at this time !) prog musicians, like Wallenstein, really had to have faith in their music to keep producing albums.

By their contribution to prog rock, «Cosmic Century» is a well done and composed album, with mainly influence by classical music and structured around strong melodies by Dollase (piano and keys) and Reiser (violin). The song «Song of Wire» is emotionnal and maybe the best song ever written by Wallenstein and was an inspiration for many german musicans.

Just for «Song of Wire» this album worth a 4 stars and almost a 5 if you like symphonic prog !

Report this review (#227787)
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The music from their third album is at the crossroad of "Grobschnitt", and "Floyd" on this one. After a soft psychedelic opening track, the band offers a real great tune with "Sweet Perdition": avant la lettre Floydean guitar (this was recorded in '73), sumptuous keys and a challenging beat to top it all! A great instrumental track for sure and a highlight in my opinion.

The second long track "Silver Arms" also shines here: thanks to a superb second half which features a strong guitar section; rounded by a very skilled group of musicians. This is a very melodic and symphonic piece which might well be one of the bands ever. A bit hesitant and chaotic in its initial phase although the solid organ part is quite sustained and should please fans of the heavy prog genre. It is another highlight of course.

But almost each track is very well done and interesting: it is again the case with "Song Of Wire" which is a superb crescendo-built song which definitely needs to be known even if short vocals are not the best here. The Floydean closing number is again quite enjoyable and it is a very good end for a very good album actually.

Seven out of ten easily; but upgraded to four stars.

Report this review (#306920)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars With the release of the first two Wallenstein albums Blitzkrieg and Mother Universe, the band were at their creative peak, progressively speaking, with an uncompromising Symphonic Rock style incorporating some of the most intelligently crafted rock music ever created.

On their third album, Cosmic Century (and for that matter, the two following studio albums) Wallenstein as a creative musical entity were obviously not at the end of their tether, even though the previous albums were hard acts to follow, due to their excellence.

The thing i like the most about Cosmic Century is the work of composer-keyboardist-vocalist Jurgen Dollase, his important role and obviously classically trained keyboard work the main pulse behind Wallenstein. As a creative musician in the seventies, Dollase had his fingers in a lot of musical pies (like with The Cosmic Jokers, Walpurgis, Sergius Golowin, etc.), but his work in Wallenstein is where he really shined the most. But he gives the other musicians room to express themselves, and their playing is refreshing, and interesting to listen to, as well, on Cosmic Century.

Dollase's vocals are done with great feeling, and that could be said of the great instrumental playing on this record, whether it be drums, guitar, keys or violin. There is intelligence in this music, but also, in the same breath, a lot of feeling and emotion. Like Triumvirat, Wallenstein know how to juggle these two things with neither at the expense of the other, a feat not easily done by a lot of rock groups.

There is no wasted filler in any of Cosmic Century, and the album fits together quite nicely, because of that. A wonderful listen, from start to finish. Five stars-an essential.

Report this review (#629318)
Posted Thursday, February 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am exploring the German symphonic band Wallenstein's discography and untill now I am more than statisfied whit what I have heard, because it is really high class on this music. This third record "Cosmic Century" doesn't either make me disappointed. Actuelly I think this is their best record of the three I have heard. Cosmic Century contains the most you could want from a progressive rock band. They mixture symphonic passages with heavy rock and jazzy crazyness. If we add good vocals and excellent instrumentation on this it will be a perfect mix.

Cosmic Century was recorded 1973 and the cover picture is blue and shows an unsharp band picture. The cover is actuelly among the worst components on the album. Bill Barone plays guitar, Jürgen Dollase keyboards, mellotron, vibraphon och vocals, Harald Grosskopf drums and percussion, Dieter Meier bass and Joachim Reiser plays violin.

The record is even and every song has a high quality and is worth to hear; therefore I recommend them all to all of you. "The Symphonic Rock Orchestra ? Rory Blanchford" is a creative starter with something for many tastes(8/10). "Grand Piano" then is a fantastic piece with mostly piano playing, I would say massive symphonic piano playing(8/10). "Silver arms" is a nice rock song with strings and cool synthesizer sounds(8/10). "The Marvellous Child" though isn't as fantastic as the other songs here(6/10). It is more common but "Song of Wire" is lovely with a typical seventies feeling and nice isntrumentation(8/10) and in the end "The Cosmic Couriers Meet South Philly Will" which is a fantastic song(8/10).

Over all, every second here is pleasant listening and Wallenstein is a surprising band for me which I will continue to explore. This record will get a strong four by me, but perhaps you think it's even better!

Report this review (#1158641)
Posted Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars At the fall of 72' Berkers left Wallenstein and recorded his own, Folk-oriented album ''Unterwegs'' on Pilz with the support of Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser.He went insane during the recordings and his parents moved him to a psychiatric hospital.He died prematurely in 1988 due to cocaine overdose.Back to Wallenstein, now Kaiser decided that it would be good for the band to record an album along the lines of The Cosmic Jokers, a Kraut/Kosmische Rock band, in which both Dollase and Grosskopf were involved since 1973, playing alongside Klaus Schulze.New bassist Dieter Meier was recruited and they added also violin player Joachim Reiser in the line-up.Kaiser moved the band to his own Kosmische Musik label and the album ''Cosmic century'' was released in 1973.

I fail to detect the cosmic feeling of the album, instead I can see a band slowly moving away from the combination of Kraut and Symphonic Rock stylings for a more conventional Symphonic Rock sound akin to PELL MELL, as detected in the 21-min., 3-part epic opener ''The symphonic rock orchestra''.Wallenstein's sound had become soft, refined and polished with lots of piano interludes/preludes and the dominant presence of Reiser on Classical-based violin runs.They still retained some of the classic KING CRIMSON elements in the smoother lines, featuring melancholic singing and orchestral keyboards, the rest of the track following the typical Teutonic side of Symphonic Rock with some interesting guitar moves, tons of acoustic piano and a few impressive rhythms.There are plenty of good interplays with Reiser's violins and the only thing resembling a bit to a cosmic atmosphere is a good bunch of experimental synth flashes.Maybe the flipside contained some surprises for the audience of deep, Kraut/Electronic Music, but soon things will dissapoint anyone expecting such leanings.In fact the music is still grounded in lush Symphonic Rock arrangements with a combination of laid-back and bombastic, Teutonic-styled textures with full-blown keyboards, piano and guitars and less emphasis on Reiser's violin work.''The cosmic couriers meet South Philly Willy'', a title which points to something extremely Kraut-ish, even contains some rockin' guitar leads out of the progressive prespective and has a nice, early-70's psychedelic vibe along with a touch of Jazz-Fusion in the jamming intrerplays.

So no Kosmische Rock in here, this is cool Symphonic Rock in the vein of PELL MELL, missing something from Wallenstein's early character, but offering some nice and well-crafted prog arrangements.Recommended.

Report this review (#1212361)
Posted Saturday, July 12, 2014 | Review Permalink

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