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Carptree - Superhero CD (album) cover

SUPERHERO

Carptree

Neo-Prog


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slutman@hotma
5 stars Hit me like a bullit this one. The arrangement, the songs, the musicians.Listen to the singing! The leadsinger has a fantastic voice, and I just love the backing vocals.They are perfectly balanced and almost impossible to tell appart from the lead. Smart.

Buy it

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22281)
Posted Sunday, February 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
maani
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4 stars I'm not sure if this album actually deserves a full four stars (closer to three-and-a-half). Maybe I'm just in a generous mood. Whatever. Despite the obvious influence of Marillion (lots of Fish-style vocals and approach here), some Genesis, some Supertramp, even some Floyd (especially an occasional Waters-style vocal), I really liked this album, mostly because there is a great deal of conscious creativity going on - i.e., the band knows who its influences are, but makes concerted efforts to filter those influences into something original. And when the band is "on" - as with "Superhero," "Father's House," the post-Genesis Gabriel "Flesh" (I would love to hear him cover this!), "Malfunction," and especially "Into the Never To Speak Of" (!) - they really hit upon some great composition, arrangements and musicality. When they are "off" - "There Like Another," "Lie Down," "Sleep" - they sound like the more commercial side of Genesis (or maybe Supertramp on a bad day...) And although Flincks' vocals are not exactly "compelling," they are definitely better than most of the vocals I am hearing in newer European prog bands. Oddly, the letdown here is the lyrics, most of which are at best utilitarian, and at worst uninspired. Indeed, if the lyrics matched the music, Carptree would have truly earned the extra half-star. That said, I found this album quite good for a very new derivative of the Genesis/Marillion style.

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Send comments to maani (BETA) | Report this review (#22282)
Posted Friday, March 05, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
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2 stars I don't think I've ever been this torn in two by an album. CARPTREE's "Superhero" is a seamless fusing of progressive, pop, and electronic elements into lushly textured songs which are emotionally powerful and lovingly crafted. However, I can barely stand to listen to it due to Niclas Flinck's vocals, which are so irritatingly melodramatic that I am alternately reminded of over-enthusiastic performers of children's songs and Geoff Tate (QUEENSRYCHE) doing a broadway show. The title track is well-crafted, with some genuinely moving moments among the drama, and could very well be remade into a film soundtrack hit (but probably for someone else). "Father's House" and "Watching the Clock" are dark and cathartic, with gorgeously brooding piano, the former song climaxing in a huge crescendo underscored by industrial rhythms. The interestingly titled "Calm of their Pupils" explores ambient textures and some very well-done heavy sections but the lyrics are puerile and the vocals are again melodramatic enough to obscure the musical highlights. "There Like Another" may be exploring interpesonal relationships from the viewpoint of chaos theory and holistic synchronicity (how many other songs can you say that about?) but by this point of the album I'm so sick of his voice that I'm instead concentrating on the excellent song structure and lush instrumentation. "Host vs. Graft" is another astonishingly good song let down by the vocals. "Into the Never to Speak Of" explores the existentialist ineffability of love with alternately lovely and hard-hitting orchestration- and the vocals even almost work on the chorus. "Flesh" is another lush and ambitious track, illustrating the plight of a browbeaten lover who can only respond physically. "Malfunction" somewhat resembles a later-era RUSH song, with a rhythmic vocoded intro (and indigenous vocal samples) leading into synthetic textures and glistening layers of guitars, vocals, and synth pads. "Lie Down" is another song which almost achieves perfection on the chorus. Finally, "Sleep", which is wonderful except for...well, you know. These songs are beautifully constructed and performed and constantly in danger of being completely ruined by the lead vocal. Even if the singer had only been disappointing I would have given "Superhero" three or even four stars- the music is that good. With so many talented singers in the world trapped by bad material, it is more than a disappointent, it's a crying shame.

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#22283)
Posted Sunday, June 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Gatot
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4 stars An Excellent album that would attract Peter Gabriel's fans .

This second album of Carptree sounds heavier and much better than the debut. It's not truly neo progressive in traditional sound like Marillion or IQ or Arena. There is a strong influence by Peter Gabriel's music but there are bits influences from artists like Rupert Hine, Gary Numan, Johny Warman etc. Carptree sounds like an exploration of powerful vocal with a thin background music nicely composed. The music is far from being complex and almost all tracks are easy to digest. So it qualifies as being a pop song with "different" style. Just call it progressive pop, may be. The mood is dark - well, actually you can see on the way they express themselves for example on calling their orchestra as "No Future". OK, let's have a look in great details rather than muddling around with what sort of box Carptree we should put in. Just enjoy the music.

Superhero (6:34) is a wonderfully composed song that starts off with a soft electric piano with powerful voiceline in a mellow and dark mood. The light rhythm section contains acoustic guitar, backing vocals, drums and orchestration. A short keyboard solo performed in a distant sound augmented by drumming work has enriched the texture of the song. An excellent composition. I only get a bit trouble with repeated "aaahh .." of backing vocals at the end of the song that is a bit boring for me. Luckily, there is an exploration of soft violin sound that reduces my feeling of getting bored with the music.

Father's House (6:29) starts nicely with a Peter Hammill's style of singing - low register notes in mumbling voice, sort of. Wow man . what a great soft piano chords played in increasing notes. The music itself is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's. The songwriting and arrangements of this track are excellent. It has a strong melody and a dark nuance. I am sure if you enjoy Peter Gabriel's albums, you would definitely love this track!

Calm Sea Of Their Pupils (5:42) starts off with a mumbling voice that reminds me to the opening of Lay Your Hands On Me of Peter Gabriels' album. It's so powerful opening that sets the whole atmosphere of the track. The music moves into a faster tempo, demonstrating lead singer's power vocal with good combination of high and low points. The ending part that contains dynamic drumming and soft keyboard solo combined with light orchestration is really great.

There Like Another (4:04) begins with a soft piano sound in simple repeated notes followed with a vocal line augmented with light orchestra. Even though it's a drum-less part but it is sung energetically. The piano and light orchestra play important role to form an excellent texture of this song's music.

Host vs. Graft (5:26) opens with a musical loop (programming) that brings the vocal enters into the music augmented with light orchestration. Another nice Gabrielish type of music. The inclusion of keyboard solos in transition pieces as well as in the ending part of the song are beautiful. .

Watching The Clock (4:30) has a long instrumental piece that consumes more than first half of the song, demonstrating the melodic sounds of piano augmented with keyboards. The piano work dominates this song with a strong influence from classical music. Voca only enters at the later second half of the song in a dark mood. Excellent song!

Into The Never To Speak Of (6:41) is the only rocking track of this album. It starts with a complex arrangements started with sort of loops followed with drumming, distorted guitar and keyboard effects - overall, the opening project an image of dark situation. The vocal line enters with rhythm section comprising acoustic guitar and light orchestration. The music flows in an ambient style with an interesting vocal. The interlude part comprising the complex music featured at the opening of the track indicates variety of forms the band tries to accomplish. They succeed well with this composition.

Flesh (5:30) starts ambient with a floating piano sounds combined with soft narration in distant voice style. The voice enters energetically accentuated with light orchestra and bell's sound. When drums and other instruments enter the music in full stream the music flows in Gabriel's music style. Again, I admire the quality of vocal and excellent composition the song offers to us. The music reminds me to Growing Up song of Peter Gabriel. The piano work that plays at the back projects wonderful sounds!

Malfunction (6:20) is another excellent track with floating drums / percussion sounds at the back of singing part. It reminds me to the music of Johny Warman even though it's composed differently. The music of Malfunction sounds like discrete in terms of flow with acoustic guitar as connecting pins between parts. This track would be great if we play it VERY loud using decent stereo set. Wow man . what an excellent arrangement!

Lie Down (4:13) uses programmed drumming (loops) at the opening followed with voice line. Right after the first verse of lyrical part the drum has been changed to manual one combined with solid basslines that remind me to the style of John Giblin. Piano sounds - with classical influence - help enrich the musical textures. The music flows nicely in ambient mood.

Sleep (5:44) concludes the album nicely with powerful low register voice of lead singer accompanied with distant music exploring repeated guitar and keyboard effects that form as main rhythm section. It has a tight composition: powerful songwriting, excellent arrangements with excellent vocal melody that dominates the song. The music sounds pretty lightly at the back. It's a well positioned track to close chapter of this excellent album!

SUMMARY

It's a simple music with tight composition: powerful song writing and beautifully crafted composition. The production quality is TOP NOTCH where all sound details - even those inserted at the back with relatively thin mixing techniques - can be heard clearly in low volume power amplifier of your stereo set. As far as musical style, the band has departed from Bowie's style music in their debut album to a closer with Peter Gabriel's music but in a darker mood. Very few tracks that you will find here having an upbeat tempo but they all produce high quality composition and sound production. The quality of lead singer's voice is really excellent. I sometime imagine if this sort of voice quality is brought into early Marillion's music, it would produce wonderful music, I think. I RECOMMEND you to purchase this CD as this is an excellent addition to any progressive music collection. Keep on proGGin' .!!!

Yours progressively,

GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#22285)
Posted Saturday, March 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
nirarta@hotma
4 stars Carptree is a Swedish duo, made up of Niclas Flinck and Carl Westholm. Although written elsewhere that they wanted to deliver a different kind of progressive rock, I would say that any music produced intentionally to be a progressive rock should be regarded as "different" (than any other mainstream music that is). Therefore, I am quite agreed that this is a different music just as different as Spock's Beard or Genesis or Pain of Salvation when one first listen to any of them.

What is immediately noticeable from this outing was its extensive yet effective use of orchestra fills, which in my opinion is better than what Yes did in 'Magnification'. Speaking of which, some Wakeman sounds could be heard toward the end of the fifth track, Watching The Clock, which telling us that Yes was among the music that influence Carptree.

Basically, the songs in this album were built upon simple piano melody. Some melodies turned into nice catchy song, just like the first track, Superhero, or eerie ones like the second track, Father's House or Into The Never To Speak Of (track seven). I really like the surreal effect evoked by Father's House which is a vocal-piano-song. Thus, without a grand arrangement, Carptree has managed to deliver a strong and stand out song, quite an achievement I might add. In this particular song, Flinck's voice was used effectively as an emotional complement to the already dark melody. He sounds like Peter Gabriel at times, and executes his vocal theatrically the way Daniel Gildenlow does in 'Be' and 'Remedy Lane' (although Gildenlow still the master of this kind of vocal execution).

In track eight, Flesh, the band managed to reenact the unique character of Peter Gabriel, combining an accessible composition with a spirited delivery. Again nice piano piece can be heard here, as well as other tracks, which emphasizes my above observation. The next song, Malfunction, also crafted in the preceding song composition, it was still worth listening however.

In all, 'Superhero' is a good and must-listen album. Niclas Flinck vocal outing itself should be a sufficient reason to explore this album, coupled with strong songs has made this album a recommended one.

Thanks for Mr. Gatot Widayanto for sharing his extensive CD collection which allowed me to know and love Carptree. (Nirarta, Indonesia).

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#40911)
Posted Saturday, July 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the album that Marillion would have released after "Clutching at straws" if Fish had stayed, and Steve Rothery had quit. Very dark, emotional, theatrical, and melodic. There are dozens of vocalists who try to sound like Fish, but Flinck does not only "try" it... he "does" it. In fact, if one didn't know it wasn't Fish, one would say "Fish cauht a light cold on this album!" But too bad there isn't a serious guitarist on this album, only a very minimalist pianist, who certainly knows what he is doing, but is trying all the time to under-do what he can! The same applies to their next album "Man-made machine". I think this gives the closest idea of what CARPTREE is all about. Certainly a must for all Fish-era Marilion fans.

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Send comments to BestFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#74222)
Posted Thursday, April 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Too much plagiarism.....apologies but it is true. If we had to discard plagiarism from our review criteria then all good, but for me music needs to be reviewed for what it is, what it has been influenced by, or more importantly what it leads by. ' Superhero' is a clone sound of Marillion/ Gabriel and therefore cannot fall into a good quality category. The music is great the musicianship is dedicated and keen but the copybook challenges avoidance and consequently one cannot help but continually compare the music to the likes of ' Script for a Jestor's Tear' or PG 2.' Malfunction' and ' Superhero' for me the highlights on this heavily influenced album.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#89824)
Posted Saturday, September 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sweden prog/related bands and albums doesn't stop to surprise me. When I found Carptree on PA I though immediatly that's another kind of band who clone Genesis/Gabriel/Pendragon music style... And I was wrong...

I have to take the words of Gatot from his previous review to define Carptree style: "simple music with tight composition"... In fact, it's impossible to deny the inffluences of the artists that I mentioned but Carptree music sounds great and very refreshing. Totally Neo Prog but the duo take some risks in two or three songs, experimenting with electronic loops and giving to the piano an intense protagonism. The lyrics and vocales are always in some kind of Gabriel/Nick Barrett style but sounds ok for me.

Some of my highlights: The beautiful opening track Superhero; Fathers House, Host vs. Graft, Into The Never To Speak Of, Flesh and Sleep.

Good album. Not a masterpiece but a work full of interesting arrangements and compositions.

3.3*

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Send comments to progadicto (BETA) | Report this review (#115486)
Posted Sunday, March 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This sort of sounds like Blackfield....Marillion.....Peter Gabriel.....but to me it is not derivative....It has it's own identity ..... The songs are well crafted....This is a voice dominated band....The instruments are almost incidental.....Another enjoyable album .....but not spectacular enough to get 4 stars from me..

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Send comments to digdug (BETA) | Report this review (#168736)
Posted Saturday, April 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
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Crossover Team
4 stars Carptree are a new progressive rock band to me, but 'Superhero' is their second album. They are unusual in that this is a two man line-up with extra guest musicians. Niclas Flinck (vocals) and Carl Westholm (keys) got together in 1997, having known each other for some twenty years, and released their debut two years ago. This is quite an unusual album to try and describe as they are a keyboard-oriented band that have taken on elements from many different acts yet have managed to create a sound that is very much their own. Imagine Peter Gabriel-era Genesis getting involved with Pink Floyd and then you may have some idea of what this is like, but only some.

It is very much a songs-based album, with the longest being only six and a half minutes long, and it has a great deal going for it. It is extremely accessible and while I have seen reviews on their web site (www.carptree.com) calling them a neo-prog outfit they are in fact quite different to the bands in that scene. Of modern bands I think that the closest I can think of is Jadis, but without the guitar. Overall an immensely enjoyable album that can be listened to closely or also works extremely well in the background.

Originally appeared in Feedback #74, Jun 03

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#984299)
Posted Saturday, June 22, 2013 | Review Permalink

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