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5 stars Before buying this CD I checked this site and found 1 rating of 1 star, so I decided to temporise with getting it. However friend of mine persuaded me to ignore ratings without reviews and let me listen to Melancholia. After second listen I was totally in love with this masterpiece of progressive rock, and jumped at my first opportunity to add it to my collection. This is what I call true masterpiece!! Amazing album. It contains two CDs. First is Melancholia itself based on Jean-Paul Sartre's (famous French philosopher-existentialist) novel "Nausea".This is 76 minutes of sheer brilliance, real irruption of musical ideas, beautifully arranged and masterfully performed. Second CD is 18 minutes long prog-suite based on organ symphony by French composer of beginning of 20th century Louis Vierne (unfortunately unknown to me). To me it sounds like wonderful, complex and beautiful prog suite heavily influenced by classical works, however Inquire themselves named it "the beginning of a new movement, what we call rock and roll".

Absolutely indispensible! Undoubtful masterpiece of prog!

Report this review (#44526)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars When music is this good all you can do is say wow ! Right from the opening bars this album really takes the listener into another world... in fact slightly resembling for me a film score. This 2 CD dual concept album plays out two different stories with side one creating a 75+ mins musical score intended to accompany philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's novel "nausea" . The second CD is an 18 min epic prog-suite aply titled "Welcome To My Rock N Roll" based on a symphony by French composer Louis Vierne. German prog fans might be interested to note that 2 of the members of this band were once ex members of TRESPASS. Although accompanied by narration, it is clearly in their instrumental work that shines thru with some fantastic keyboard, drum , bass and guitar interplay. Musically these guys are amazing and blend 70's progressive rock sensitivities (aka GENESIS and ELP) with a modern complex yet interwoven and tight fusion vibes (TUNNELS, BRAND X, ARENA) Also key to note that this album is exceptionally well recorded and sounds nice and lively over the ol' speakers.
Report this review (#70902)
Posted Thursday, March 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Inquire seems to fall into that hideous grey area that befuddles many fans, the proverbial "Love or Hate it" category and this emanates from the lack of any comprehensive ratings on our PA site and even elsewhere. So what gives? At first glance, there is nothing extraordinarily boring on one hand or avant-garde on the other to justify such a lack of response, being rather pretty straight forward symphonic rock led by a sizzlingly linear guitarist (Dieter Cromen) who has a "bleeding" phrasing and style that is highly suggestive and even original, while colorful keyboardist Robert Köhler and deft drummer Thomas Kohls round out the classic lineup. The previous album, "The Neck Pillow" wasted no time in setting down the parameters of their craft and "Melancholia" is a tectonic upgrade, an ultramodern, even at times uncanny, collage of moods and atmospheres that confuse, collide and coalesce well together, over a span of 2 CDs and an hour and a half of startlingly vibrant progressive rock. The first album, clocking in at a massive 76 minutes, conveys in musical terms the insensibilities of "La Nausée", Jean-Paul Sartre's epic dissertation on the human condition with a series of tracks that combine brief yet spooky narration (French with a German accent!) and sensational symphonic bursts that sear, churn, mortify and assault the senses. "Bienvenue à Bouville", a short accordion-led French theme that explodes into a torrential mellotron wave, slashed by an inflammatory lead guitar that slowly weaves the mood, synthesized e-piano, "tic-toc" drumming and a reverberating bass conductor. When the turbo charge is flicked, the piece goes into sonic overdrive, verging on Hawkwindian space, brutally propulsed into the void. Cromen tortures his incandescent axe with various Hendrixian caresses, searching out faraway musical territories, loads of shifting speeds and moods, this is a drop dead dazzling opener! "Nausea" resumes the creative insanity with Cromen doing a little guitar bicycling à la Fripp, some detached vocals adding spook and frenzy, while dissonance meets dysfunction. The hysterical guitar romp flashes through the schizophrenic ambiance, echoing snippets of paranoid female vocals, followed by a fluid guitar solo that "out-gilmours" David Gilmour, a bluesy and frenetic promenade that manages to convey the title quite convincingly! "Anny pt1" is a short fret interval, with disjointed female narration, setting the stage for the next mind blowing marathon , the succulent "Der Autodidakt" , nearly 10 minutes of primo symphonic prog as an ornate piano weaves tight melancholia, the buzzing guitar steaming merciless ahead, very Germanic , quite direct, with hints of classical inspiration, a smidgen of jazzy cool (that conniving piano again), a surprising synthesizer solo fuses overhead while the axe grates below, a echoing and disjointed voice lists the names of philosophers and scientists (Plato, Einstein, Schopenhauer, Voltaire, etc..). A dictatorial Hammond organ rages nearby with passionate glee, jostling with the piano for center stage, while the spotlight shines on a gentle guitar reading that blooms into a revisit of the earlier lead guitar theme for another roundabout and some more vocal weirdness. Wow! "The End of a Sunday" is another lengthy affair, with a slightly more playful envelope (a proggier version of Meatloaf?), presenting some circus-like clowning around (vocal effects and bar room piano noodlings), when all of a sudden both whistling synthesizers and wooshing guitars decide to take over and enter the cacophony. This is no commercial fare, but rather heavily perturbing, uncompromising and overtly creative modern rock music. A rampant Cromen flight takes all the jangling pretense into an oddly neurotic zone. This is a tough listen, severely eerie as if Syd Barrett was winking from above. "Anny pt2" relies on some peculiar piano touches, as the orchestrations reveal even more nostalgia, a solitary synth blast (very "Lucky Man") illuminating the spectral proceedings. "The Museum" is a protracted 13 minute masterpiece with classical orchestrations hastily introducing that typical Cromen sidewinder guitar flurry, drilling pitilessly into the night, shifting the mood constantly from quiet muted introspection to brutally enraged reality. Halfway through, the chaotic atmosphere evolves into a maze of angry rants, bizarre noises, strange riffs, oozy notes and honking organ jostling with notorious guitar buzzes. The final 2 minutes tumble into outright psychedelia, choir mellotrons toying with the insistent guitar phrasing. "The Chestnut Tree" is a nightmarish fiasco of disassembled harmonies, disconnected thematics and obtuse playing that instantly transposes itself into a goose-stepping musical parade, as the bass pounds remorselessly, the fret slithers in and out of focus, a feral effect-drenched solo lighting the theme asunder and an unruly organ as likely companion. Ding Dong! "Anny pt3" is the third and final intermezzo, more collated sonic effects and oddball fragments. The massive title track initiates the final curtain call and remains the key showpiece, a resoundingly psychotic architecture of sound and substance that coalesces into a deep symphonic adventure, dropping boom boom-bass and boom boom drums all over the guitar infested groove, occasionally diverted by some beautiful piano formations, train clicks rolling along as the somber clouds slowly move into Bouville. Prog is certainly a venture into the unknown. The second CD is a different kettle of experimental fish, inspired by a modern symphony written by French composer Louis Vierne ("Welcome to my Rock and Roll"), a 5 part suite of short pieces, starting off with the whirlwind "Allegro Maestoso", a raunchy guitar-dripping tryst furiously flirting with bombast, spiced up with some sonic sarcasm and irony. "Cantilene" has the synths doing the damage, coyly whirling in and out of the orchestrated tubular bell tussle. "Intermezzo" and "Adagio" clearly search to show off some devious attempts at classical music, using synths, pianos and guitars to up the ante. "Final" is the most accomplished arrangement, with some more stellar lead guitar playing and a feeling that these are musicians who clearly enjoy their passion. That this "kolossal projekt" has such a diminutive fan club is beyond my comprehension. It is a modern, exhilarating, brooding, powerful, humorous and persuasive slab of precious symphonic ecstasy, with remarkable production values, thus creating a constantly fiery soundtrack to some philosophical movie like "A Beautiful Mind" but in a proggier setting! Entirely enjoyable and deserving of 4 Sartre vomits. Merde alors!
Report this review (#203070)
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars JAWOHL!This is the kind of album that we can judge it to be made of intelligent and almost philosophical music!Definitelly-MELANCHOLIA is a atrue masterpiece ,an album rich in emotions and a permanent state of grace aquiredAmateurs of high quality music will have plenty of satisfactions discovering theis so talented and heavenly gifted band!This is typically German-precission-strong compositions-great musicianship-top production album-a clear and ambitious musical direction!Pure symphnic prog,very well produced and very well performed by some greatly talented musicians!Just look at the cover,and you'll realise thet behind such an expressive's impossible to find a weak musical message..isn't it?It's hard to describe song by song this album,because I see this album in it's integrality-unity! What is particular at MELANCHOLIA-is the natural and fluent succession of the songs,in a pure and perfect harmony and logical musical developement!The album has a musical crescendo track after track and in the end we realise that we made a serious audition of something of a great quality!It's the taste of musical satisfaction...and hummm!I want more and a new audition will reveal other senses for such a complex musical release! Unfortunatelly the band split after this superbe release but rumors says that TRESPASS,,the core of INQUIRE musicians,will rise again and so we have to wait what the future will bring us from this talented gentlemans. So...INQUIRE is dead...but TRESPASS is reborn!! 5 STARS to an exceptional album of symphonic and intelligent prog!
Report this review (#256608)
Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Don't Sit Under the Chestnut Tree With Anyone (cos Hell is Other People)

You'll have to forgive me for a rather large dose of sentimentality when it comes to this album. It was the reason I started listening to Prog again after a gap of some 10 years when Indie, Post-Punk, jazz and classical had supplanted the former in my affections. During my twenties like all insular and pale young men I went through an 'existentialist' phase where I devoured but completely failed to digest properly Camus, Sartre, Kafka et al. (The resultant dyspepsia must have made my company insufferable back then as I was even more of an irritating furry oink than I am now) Such reading material merely served to confirm my own prejudices that the bloated Prog beastie was an anachronism, an affront to 'art imitates life', an escapist rumpus room of hippiedom, a punctured bouncy Tolkien castle of profundity that I laid siege to with unbridled disdain. My regulation black cannons were loaded but it transpires I had failed to keep my powder dry. Funny thing with those who proclaimed the 'death of God' is that they only conspired to proselytize an entire generation of devout atheists to worship his executioners.

My memory's a bit fuzzy about the details but I think it was my erstwhile girlfriend 'S' who told me about this album:

You know that book you lent me where the climax is some sad creepy French guy staring at a tree?

Erm.. you mean 'Nausea' by Jean Paul Sartre?

Yeah, well some sad creepy German Prog band have made an album about

No kidding, bet it's Billy Smart's 'Being Precedes Essence' on Ice With Lasers

If it might crack yer sour puss for a while I'll buy it for you (sigh), has to be better than the book...which is pure keech by the way

The relationship ended shortly thereafter but my rebound Prog mistress beckoned.

Sartre set his entire novel in a fictitious French provincial town similar to those he worked in as a schoolteacher and some have speculated that 'Bouville' is a flimsily disguised swipe at Le Havre.The protagonist Roquentin finds himself amongst 'ferociously good people' (the author's splenetic description of those he portrays as unable/unwilling to shake the seductive yoke of social conditioning a.k.a. the bourgeoisie) The classic existentialist hero, Roquentin is an alienated loner who has few meaningful relationships, considers sex a deposit transaction via a human ATM, holds mankind and himself in complete contempt and like an unemployed astronomer, stares into space for free.

The faces of others have some sense, some direction. Not mine. I cannot even decide whether it is handsome or ugly. I think it is ugly because I have been told so

First up, the music from Inquire is tellingly cinematic in it's breadth, pristine detail and scope where scene and mood setting sound-bites of dialogue and musique concrete are cunningly spliced into the sumptuous mix and HUGE sound picture. Don't sit too close to the speakers lest you get sonic whiplash progbuddys. Dieter Cromen's guitar takes centre stage for the most part and he dials up a wide array of delicious guitar sonorities throughout the album. His 'bread and butter' tone is a rich, creamy and spacious distorted timbre which lends itself very effectively to the abiding lyrical thrust of his musical ideas. On occasion though he can and does display that laminated, but mercifully dusty, certificate earned from the 'Advanced School of Widdley' and lets rip like a shredding speed typist accordingly. Herr Cromen also exploits the possibilities afforded by modulation effects to vary his guitar palette and there are in places on Melancholia, shimmering arpeggios and gently oscillating sinews of counterpoint that resemble uncannily those of Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins. It's during these passages that Robert Kohler's keys come to the fore as otherwise they are primarily deployed in a supportive role but given that this is a trio hereabouts, his piano, organ and Synth backdrops are crucial to preserve a thematic unity and provide contrasting dynamic relief throughout what is effectively a seamless 76 minute piece. He strikes me as a keen advocate of the Tony Banks 'you only notice it if it ain't there' approach but just like the latter, when afforded the room, can solo like a dervish e.g. that thrilling and spine tingling analogue synth salvo on Der autodidakt.

I heartily loathe cinematic adaptations of my favourite novels, but could get used to their imaginary soundtracks as long as they allow me to direct the movie from inside my own head (music being one of the most abstract of all the arts affords the listener this privilege) Perhaps this 'Director's Cut' wouldn't have had Symphonic styled Progressive Rock as the ideal accompaniment to Sartre's prose and maybe Shape of Jazz to Come avant oriented music may have been closer in stylistic spirit to the France that the author envisioned, (seeing as how the likes of Ornette Coleman would have surely scandalised the great and the good pious souls of Bouville) Nevertheless, Inquire make a damn fine job of invoking the essential atmosphere within which 'Nausea' exists. A latent and burgeoning series of teleological panic attacks ain't exactly 'My Little Pony' to be sure, but the gravitas is never allowed to descend into twee bathos or precious melodrama. It does seem rather ironic however that given the pivotal moment when Roquentin realises an escape route to his existential malaise comes by way of hearing a recording of a Negress singing a jazz tune (Some of these Days You'll Miss Me Honey) there is not a single trace of blues or jazz to be found on the entire recording (save the odd flirtation with shuffle time). Something of a missed opportunity methinks and even the unaccompanied female intoning these words at various points throughout, sounds more like a suntanned holidaying Eva Braun (Ulla Becker) than a Billie Holiday.

The narrative's love interest centres around 'Anny', who is Roquentin's on/off chick of many years standing. I just wonder re the 'art imitating life' stipulation if this self absorbed and now half mad porcine Michelin Woman who abandons him in the end, has a corollary with that of Sartre's lifelong squeeze Simone 'I don't hate men, I just think their numbers should be controlled, some sort of cull perhaps' De Beauvoir? Either way, Jean Paul and Monsieur Roq would have been wise to ditch the borderline hysteric beeatches pronto innit?.

The first half of this CD is unremittingly brilliant with sublime thematic ideas fully developed and all manner of stylistic departures, dynamic contrasts, changes of pace and tangential forays all effortlessly negotiated with consummate ease. Thereafter alas, the lads run out of steam alarmingly like a present day Arsenal squad around the 45 minute mark, or in our case circa the convoluted and very unsatisfying track, The Museum. Tired legs, loss of concentration and a bewildering lack of cohesion make them very vulnerable to counter attack and the net to bulge at the wrong end. There's nothing remotely sloppy or shoddy about the latter part of Melancholia as perfectly well executed musical ideas proliferate aplenty but they just don't seem to be able to actually get anywhere near the desired goal behind this listener's less than airtight defences.(I really want them to hit the target but with such a scatter-gun approach, it just ain't gonna happen any-time soon although this portion of the record has grown on me over time)

What can be deemed worthy of being salvaged here is certainly the intended denouement of the entire shooting match i.e. The Chestnut Tree where Roquentin's 'horrifyingly ecstatic' yet icy calm epiphany of 'objects being unglued from their names' is revealed to him in all their bulging, obscene and visceral otherness. Or if you prefer the 'S' reading, a sad creepy French guy is left staring at a tree.

It really matters not a jot whether you give a discarded fig about the Husserl inspired 'dramatisation of ideas' from a wall eyed jowly Parisian intellectual to enjoy this record. For those who have an affection for Camel, Focus, ELP, Genesis and at a pinched harmonic, Rush there is very little NOT to like on Melancholia.

I found coming up with a satisfying rating for this one rather tricky as it's a very firm and robust 3 but a rather flimsy and precarious 4 (3 and a half stars?)

I certainly don't regret my dalliance with a set of ideas now widely considered hopelessly passe and redundant as Existentialism taught me a great deal about the human critter and myself that I couldn't have arrived at by any other means. It also gave me a completely black wardrobe, a ten year dependence on anti-dandruff shampoo, some really 'well dodgy' girlfriends and introduced me to the Cure, my own naval and one real bona fide nugget of wisdom that some on PA should really take to heart (you know who you are tortured artisans)

Like most dreamers I mistook disenchantment for truth (JP Sartre)

Report this review (#563237)
Posted Sunday, November 6, 2011 | Review Permalink

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