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Jan Schelhaas - Dark Ships CD (album) cover


Jan Schelhaas

Crossover Prog

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Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Released in 2008, Dark Ships comprises of mainly Caravan members in the line up as in Doug Boyle on guitar. A very accomplished player too. Jimmy Hastings on flute and Sax and of course Schelhaas lending vocals, keyboards and general mixing and production. The music is very much a pastiche of Camel and Caravan and laid back with a popular influence not disimilar to some of Alan Parson Project's material. The title track " Dark Ships" has great keyboards from Schelhaas and catchy vocals with some great guitar riffs. " Nothing On earth" is a lovely languid tune where the vocals get really high almost sounding like Pye Hastings at times. Naturally the album is going to have the canterbury feel and overall it is quite a laid back piece of work. " Soon Be Dreaming" is a great piano driven ballad of a song with interesting backdrop sound effects. If you know both bands referenced you will like this work as well as other artists like John.G.Perry. Good stuff!
Report this review (#296849)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars I'm the one who suggested Jan Schelhaas for inclusion on PA, so reviewing this album is quite a duty for me.

I was digging in the various CAMEL lineups to see if anybody had released anything new and I have found this album. The opener and title track is for me the best of the album. I can hear echoes of CARAVAN in the vocals, the electronic ambients of the late PETER BARDENS and a generic Canterbury flavour. Good guitar solos and a captivating melody with light jazz moments.

"Red Sky At Morning" wants to be evocative. A soft keyboard base with "seagulls" and Hastings flute above. Two minutes reminding of "Breathless". This track fades into "Sails In The Sun", a song in a CARAVAN late 70s style.

Keyboards again for "True Blue". If I forget the vocals and think to the instrumental part only, it makes me think to Nude. The seagull of the second track appears here for a short while, too.

Things are better with "Holy Voices". The musical line of this song is non-trivial even though it's very melodic. It's one of the album's highlights. The central section is something that will appeal CAMEL and CARAVAN fans.

"Nothing On Earth" is a mellow song good for a drink after dinner in a quiet environment. This is one of the characteristics of this album and it's true for "Goin' To Shangai", too. The sounds used by CARAVAN, and sometimes by CAMEL in the 70s where still a bit acid. Replacing them with the mellow keyboards and a better production has caused it to sound too chill-out.

"The Voyage of Doby Mick" is almost identical to the previous song, melodic and chill-out with a tone of Caravan in the vocals. "Silent Solos" seems to be another version of the same song. I think a shorter album would have been better. However this last one is good enough.

"Dolphins and Oceans" is a terrible title. After all this chill-out a title like this is scaring. Taking alone this song is not bad, like the others, but all this "sugar" can cause a diabetes.

"Soon Be Dreaming" interrupts this sequence of "honey and sugar" with a jazzy piano piece. Unfortunately too short. Ususal seashore at the end.

"The Coast of Peru (Away Santiago)" is an interesting song even if in the mood of the previous "oceanic songs". Let's just say that Santiago is not in Peru, I think. But there's a lot of towns called Santiago in South America so I could be wrong.

A two minutes closer and the album is gone.

Have I been right in suggesting Jan Schelhaas ? I think yes in general, but this addition didn't bring any masterpiece to the PA.

3 stars to the career

Report this review (#400446)
Posted Monday, February 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars True blue

Keyboard player Jan Schelhaas is mostly known from being a member of Caravan in the mid to late 70's and then Camel in the late 70's to early 80's. Like other reviewers have pointed out, this first (and to date only) solo album of his can fairly be described as a fusion of Caravan and Camel. It has that distinct "whimsical" Canterbury feel characteristic of Caravan which also infected Camel when members of Caravan migrated to Camel in the mid 70's. Other members of Caravan even contribute to this album including Jimmy Hastings on flute and saxophone. However, Schelhaas is very accurately placed in the Crossover Prog category as the music present here is a very streamlined and laid back take on the Caravan style. Bands like The Moody Blues and Alan Parsons Projects are equally accurate comparisons. The track True Blue even reminds a bit of The Beach Boys!

Overall, Dark Ships features a pleasant set of songs. The mood is mostly relaxed and the music has a soft feel and generally slow tempo. I enjoy listening to it, but it hardly takes me by storm. The highlight is the opening title track which features very nice guitar work.

Good, but hardly essential

Report this review (#1120917)
Posted Sunday, January 26, 2014 | Review Permalink

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