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Flame Dream - Calatea CD (album) cover


Flame Dream

Symphonic Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars What I am generally looking for in a group's work is Originality and if not at least some personality and inspiration and also some honesty. I can't say I found those character traits while listening to Flame Dream's first two albums. This was recommended as "the best thing out of Switzerland " but not quite. Circus ans Island are much better and more inventive as well as personnal. FD cannot manage to hide its Yes influences (like some of the bands from mid to late 70's such as Starcastle and Druid) but maybe slightly better assimilated. But we are not far from a clone bands . In the third track Volcano , that had started out very well , they can't resist pulling some T Banks KB lines from Cinema Show , a wink or plain lack of inventivity? To ask the question is already answering it. Too bad, because these guys could've bettered their yes influences especially that the singer is also a flautist and a saxman.
Report this review (#25758)
Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A strong debut, operating in a symphonic mode basically but also with a jazzy tinge unique on this one. Such was rather lost on ensuing albums, but here it lends a feel rather similar to the great EN REGARDANT PASSER LE TEMPS by the French group Carpe Diem.

Vocal chores on this maiden-voyage outing are shared by guitarist Urs Waldispühl and woodwinds player Peter Wolf (no relation to the Austrian keyboardist or the J. Geils Band singer). Vocals seem like an afterthought to the lengthy instrumental passages, though. Often, the two sing in unison alongside bass player Urs Hochuli.

Waldispühl's guitar playing is utterly peripheral, the odd riff here or unison melody with the sax there, but it's hardly a guitar extravaganza. Keysman Roland Ruckstuhl is star of the show, and he doesn't let you forget it. Organ, synths and Fender Rhodes are prominent, with some Mellotron for added dimension. But it's the sumptuous, classically-derived acoustic piano work that's the cornerstone of Ruckstuhl's playing. What is it with all these Swiss bands and this absolutely delicious piano playing? You get much the same on albums by Dragonfly, Blue Motion and the like as well.

Report this review (#42765)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Well this is where it all started for the Swss band FLAME DREAM. As Progbear has mentioned in his review there is a light jazz feel to this debut that is not found on their following releases.The keyboard work of Roland Ruckstuhl is clearly what dominates this record. This is a concept record about three friends who go through this huge gate and find this world called Calatea. It is a beautiful land with strange geometrical shapes, pyramids, orbs, clusters and spheres.They are so amazed with this world, but after the novelty has worn off and they become hungry, and in their search for food things start to deteriorate as they become destructive.The harmony of Calatea is ruined. A volcano erupts and covers the landscape with flaming dust resulting in Calatea turning cold. They find their way back to the huge gate, and now looking at their (our) world they had left with the sun warming their bodies, they now look at it with new eyes. I took most of this information from the liner notes.

There is mellotron on "Gate To Calatea", "Volcano" and "Gate Out Of Calatea". The piano especially shines on "Volcano" where there is also a prolonged flute melody. This is my favourite song by the way.There is some sax on this record too and the drumming was actually very impressive.There are two vocalists as well on this album.

I have to say that this pales in comparison to both "Elements" and "Out in the Dark" but it is still a three star record. Start with the other two albums though.

Report this review (#122812)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I suppose that there as many rock bands in Switzerland than in Belgium, which means not so many of course. So, when one is available for review on PA, why not have some listen.

Unlike some other ''Yes'' clones, this band adds some jazzy flavour to their music and their front man is a good multi-instrumentalist (flute, sax). I have to say that the prog-tango (!) and opening number is quite special. When ''Yes'' meets some Argentinean sounds... What an experience!

When I spoke of a ''Yes'' clone, it is not fully the truth. Some passages are typical of ''Genesis'' as well (the intro of '' Surrey From The Summit'' for instance). At the time of release, there were not that many bands to play this type of ''Yes'' oriented music and the addition of sax/flute is probably what makes the difference with the average ''Starcastle'' for instance. But this is only my HHO.

The highlight from this album is probably the long (over eleven minutes) ''Volcano''. It combines great piano play, good sax, derivative Anderson vocals (which are not the best from it), sweet fluting and pleasant acoustic guitar. If you are a fan of ''Cinema Show'', there is no doubt that some instrumental sections are going to remind you this great song.

An excellent number after all even if not at all personal. It is also one of the very few which holds some electric guitar solo; this album being mostly keyboards oriented.

The jazzier of all on this album is ''Pyramids''. It is another occasion to appreciate the work of Roland Ruckstuhl on the keys (piano and synths). The jazzy feel is deeply augmented by the symphonic sax play. It is a highly technical piece of work, but I don't like it very much to tell the truth. But my relation with jazz has never been a love affair.

There is also an Oriental atmosphere during ''Apocalypse of Sounds''. The whole spectrum of their work appears here as a kaleidoscope: some nice touches of each of their strenghts. After ''Vulcano'', this might well be my fave. It is a more personal track probably.

In all, this is of course the representation of a derivative band, but I far much prefer them to ''Starcastle'' or ''Glass Hammer'' (to name only a couple). They bring definite personal touches in their work even if the closing ''Gate Out Of Calatea'' sounds as a rip off ''The Knife'' during the intro. The tango feel is again present (just like the opener and sister ''Gate To Calitea''). The final part is harder and dark and closes the album in a pleasant form. Three stars.

Report this review (#190109)
Posted Friday, November 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The full power of prog genre !

This FLAME DREAM "galatea" captures all richness, inventiveness and good taste that prog genre can provide. Certainly these gifted Swiss musicians materialized a lot of brilliant ideas.

To me in "galatea" FD album, the Gentle Giant philosophy to create music is taken to the limit, and what's more important : they achieve the state of art, as complexity is in tasteful realm. There are hints of Yes and Genesis (and even ALQUIM 2 first albums from Holland comes to my mind) here and there, but NO direct influence like you can perceive in "out in the dark" 1981 FD album.

If you like the following albums, a more accurate reference to "galatea" could go to the Italians ALUSA FALLAX (1974), the Belgium BANZAI "hora nata" or ATLAS "bla vardag" for the creativeness diversity and intensity. The "galatea" brilliant use of saxophones don't bring me to mind jazzy influences, do you think that VDGG has jazz influence only because they use saxophone ?! I don't for sure.

Have you listened Patrick Moraz "the story of" (1975) ? So you can get a glimpse of how far Swiss musicians can go. In this album Patick Moraz realized what seems impossible : to blend Brazilian samba and other rhythms with killer prog solos and arrangements.

No matter if "galatea" is unknown or if it's unreleased in CD format so far (what?!), also Vincent Van Gogh art was only recognized after his death, unfortunately the genius died sad and poor !

Report this review (#247496)
Posted Saturday, October 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars 3.5 stars, really. Very interesting Swiss band of the late 70´s. This debut album shows some great promise. I heard they were a kind of Yes copy band, but I found nothing here that supports such statement, except maybe for the vocal style of some parts, definitly a bit Jon Anderson oriented. But on the instrumental side of things they are quite different, with a much stronger jazzier side. So if you´re looking for something like Starcastle, go somewhere else. Flame Dream in many aspects are quite original and unique and if you´re not convinced, just listen to the opener Gate To Galetea, where the mix of synphonic prog, jazz and tango (yes, tango!!) is indeed amusing.

While all the musicians are highly skilled and professional, the CD is definitly keyboard-oriented, with enough room for a lot of sax and flutes too. Roland Ruckstuhl pretty much runs the show here with his very tasteful use of grand piano, organ and synths. Peter Wolf (no relation to his namesake american singer of the J. Geils Band) also does a fine job on the woodwinds. There are almost no guitar solos, but you´ll hardly notice it. the rhythm section is quite good and versatile, I specially liked the bass parts.

For a concept album, the vocals are surprisingly few. Which ends up being a good thing, since those guys are much better instrumentalists than singers. The sound of my CD version is very good and balanced all over. All the tracks are at least good, with some memorable, powerful moments (Volcano And Pyramids are definitly two highlights, but there are no fillers).

Conclusion: a nice surprise. Nothing to write home about it, but still quite good and promising. I´m looking forward to listen to Calatea´s follow up and the others.

Report this review (#543954)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Late-70's produced still some quality Progressive Rock and Flame Dream were among the bands that did so.They were found in Luzern, Switzerland in 1977 and the original crew were guitarist/singer Urs Waldispühl, keyboardist Roland Ruckstuhl, drummer Peter Fuhrer, bassist Urs Hochuli and woodwind player/singer Peter Wolf.Their debut album ''Calatea'' was originally released on Phillips in 1978.

In ''Calatea'' Flame Dream delivered quite complex Progressive Rock with numerous breaks and time signatures akin to masters YES, GENTLE GIANT, GENESIS and VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR.From these influences YES should be the more evident, as the style of the band was full of the Englishmen's ethereal breaks with multi-vocal harmonies, Classical-inspired piano and harsichord intros, WAKEMAN-ish bizarre synth parts and STEVE HOWE-like guitar hooks.The melodic moog synth parts though are closer to the style of GENESIS.Among this mainly symphonic material Peter Wolf found plenty of space to offer endless sax and flute attacks, some of them are quite melodoius, others are very sharp and edgy.The arrangements of the album are pretty tight, filled with very complicated instrumental themes and demanding interplays, definitely a prog fan's heaven.The instrumentation is nicely balanced as well.What is not really consistent is the above average songwriting and of course the very strong YES resemblance is not exciting either.

Pretty solid material in Classic Prog vein and it is a crime there is no legit CD reissue still around.The only CD version I am aware of is a bootleg release by Tachika.Very good and complex Prog for fans of YES, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, CATHEDRAL or YEZDA URFA...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#805297)
Posted Thursday, August 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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