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4 stars Highly romantic , pastoral progressive rock with strong parallels to the music of CAMEL. Full of soft keyboard symphonia, flute filled interludes and a superb mix of acoustic and electric guitar passages giving this album a timeless quality. Vocals are soft and excellent with loads of harmony and once again seems to fit the music to perfection.
Report this review (#28547)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Pretty album from Germany, plentiful of sweet melodies and pleasant music passages as well, within the light school of Canterbury, characterized also by some interesting references to bands such as CAMEL (period of "MoonMadness") and early GENESIS (regarding the Era of "Trick of the Tail").Well actually it should deserve a 3 stars and an half score, cause a couple of tracks are a bit weak;nevertheless the splendid instrumental "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and the melodic "Yago" and "Incomplete", are sweet gems, which alone make this album well worth checking out.


Report this review (#28548)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is an album very much in the vein of "Flower in Asphalt", but it's even better. Though the band has undergone some changes in its line-up the sound remains the same. In "Retreat" we have the inclusion of a vocalist (the previous album being totally instrumental), H. G. Ruppik, whose tone of voice reminds me of (of course!) Andy Latimer. There's also a new guitar player who sounds again like... Andy Latimer, yes! But don't misunderstand me: the band has its own personality, that's for sure; however, when I try to compare them to other bands I always come to the same conclusion: Camel. What's more: "Flower in Asphalt" and "Retreat" are, in my opinion, much better records than the ones that Camel released during this period (the horrible "I Can See Your House...", the horrendous "The Single Factor" and the irregular and AOR "Stationary Traveller".) But let's talk about Rousseau and "Retreat": The first song is "L'age d'or". The intro of this song could have been included in Genesis' "A Trick Of..."; the rest of the track has a nice guitar and keyboard work with interesting bass lines (7/10). The following one is "One of a Thousand", a weak song, especially because the inclusion of the vocals which add nothing special to the sound of the band (5.5/10). "Café Crème" is a short and beautiful piece of acoustic guitar. It's got a jazzy and even bossa-nova atmosphere (7/10). "China" is a fantastic song. It's a good example of Rousseau at its best, it also shows a strong Canterburian influence. The dialogue between flute and guitar is really great (8/10). "Yago" has some very sweet melodies (the acoustic intro, for example) and it's one of the highlights of the album. A perfect example of simplicity and beauty all together (8.5/10). "Windsong" is another gem with an excellent and touching guitar solo (a la Latimer, of course!) (8/10). Next track, "Incomplete", is really nothing special: a boring, predictable and poppy song that shows that no one is perfect (4/10). "Scarlet lake" includes some nice acoustic guitar work which reminds me of Anthony Phillips, the flute melody is very South American (6.5/10). "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is another excellent piece of work with fantastic rhythmic changes (8/10). Unfortunately, "Flight" is a weak final track, too much AOR (5/10). I think 3.5 stars are the fair rating here. However, if you're a melodic prog fan, then Rousseau's records are a must!
Report this review (#47015)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A step down but still very nice.

Rousseau's second album "Retreat" is a success for the band. With a new guitarist and good reviews from their debut they set about to try and top it. They succeeded in the eyes of some but to me their first remains their masterpiece by a long shot.

"Retreat" is similar symph-rock territory to their first but with some significant changes. First, they unfortunately decided that their already colorful sound needed vocals. This would be fine if the vocals were on par with the band but they are not. Honesty I cringe when they first kick in on the second track. I'm sorry but the vocalist sounds just like the Will Ferrell character (Marty Culp) on "Saturday Night Live" who plays keyboards and sings with his wife (Bobbi Mohan-Culp played by Ana Gasteyer) at various captive audience functions. Thankfully the vocals are present on only three tracks so the majority of the album works anyway. Those three tracks are clearly the worst on the album and don't give me any incentive to check out their next album which I'm sure moves more in that direction. It's like those three tracks are a completely different band and not one you'd want to listen to. Another change is the attempt to make the material more sophisticated and clever. I understand the attempt and yet it is the simple beauty and emotion of the first album that make it special to me. This is still a good album with much to recommend it. There are some gorgeous acoustic guitar pieces. There are beautiful guitar leads and soft keyboard passages that put you right in between Camel and lush neo-prog.

Another great album cover, this time a photo of a cabin on a hilltop which symbolizes the "retreat" we all crave sometimes, though Rousseau warns us to be careful about this in the track "Flight." While we may crave solitude this may prevent us from meeting the friends who enrich our lives. And yet sometimes we need to get away anyway. Get Rousseau's fabulous "Flower in Asphalt" first and if you like that one then proceed to "Retreat."

Report this review (#118751)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars The inclusion of vocals on Rousseau's second album is the card that trumps the band's debut. I recall reading that Rousseau is self-described as chamber rock, which is generally apt, but also means that at times they can be a bit overly mellow, and sameness and monotony can set in. By including the voice of Herbert G. Ruppik on several tracks, that trap is generally avoided.

That said, the vocals may not be to everyone's taste, and they are used in a song oriented fashion, which might ruffle prog bird feathers. I prefer to look upon it as an admission of a different instrument into the chamber, and I actually very much enjoy the suitably romantic and nostalgic lyrics, particularly on my favourite cut, "One in a Thousand". It has a timeless aspect to it, and a truly wondrous melody, with lots of flute and string like synthesizers to accentuate the dreamlike quality. It sounds like a Christmas classic not yet written.

Rousseau is instrumentally perhaps a bit more focused as well on this album, as evidenced by short and sweet tracks like "Cafe Creme" and the rollicking "China" in which the tuneful flute and lead guitars trade off like a tag team going to work on my heart. "Yago" is one of the longer pieces but chooses the route of progression rather than rapid changes to paint its portrait in guitars, sumptuous organ, and yet more flute, before the jazz tinged guitars at the end. Rousseau is often compared to Camel, and the comparison is not invalid, although it must be said that they are a softer Camel, never really rocking out, but they come close on "Windsong". The leads really soar but never get raunchy or harsh. Only the opener and closer on the album don't do much for me, so this is a real winner from Rousseau, an excellent example of mid 1980s chamber rock!

Report this review (#126778)
Posted Monday, June 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Three long years have passed between their debut album and their second opus. While "Flower In Asphalt" was a full intrumental album, this one will feature some vocal tracks. Don't worry too much though. Of course Ruppik is not the greatest singer on earth (there won't be a lot of great German singer) but I've heard lots of poorest ones.

Between you and me, I prefer their instrumental style. But since not too many vocals will be featured, they won't drag this album to the bottom part of the scheme, far from it.

"One Of A Thousand", "Incomplete" feature some lyrics. The interpretation is on the soft side, like if the singer wouln't want to disturb the nice musical arrangements. The latter is almost folkish.

This album is also not so much a "suite-type" album like "Flower". It is more a collection of songs with a different personality. "L'Age D'Or" is a brilliant, dynamic and passionate opener (even featuring a Santana-like guitar solo !)while "Café Crême" is a fully acoustic guitar oriented reflecting a very soft appraoch.

The next trio of songs are probably the most beautiful ones on this record "China", "Yago" (the longest piece) and "Windsong" (particularly this one). Of course, they sound 100 % as Camel ones, but this aspect of their work was already to be noticed on their debut album. So, there is little surprise that Rousseau keeps surfing on the same and pleasant wave. It is also impossible not to mention this fact while reviewing this album.

Some might feel that this effort sounds too much like "Flower" but I just believe that it is the charm of this band. Just listen to the catchy and emotional "Breakfast at Tiffany's ". Another highlight, for sure.

The closing number is the only poor one. As bad as Camel was sounding in the late seventies. It's funny that Rousseau picked up this side of their music (they could have avoided it, IMO).

Rousseau found their style and wanted to stick to it (even if it is deeply influence by another band). When it is good, there is absolutely no harm. I will use the same rating as for their previous effort : four stars for this very melodic and peaceful record. Very optimistic tone, I have to say.

Report this review (#132636)
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rousseau is a band from Germany who plays pastoral progressive combined with chamber music and symphonic elements, this is the description of Rousseau music. While the first album was a full instrumental album their second has some voice on fiew tracks like:Incomplete and one of a thousand. Rupik voice is not a stunning one but fits very well to this kind of music. The music on this album is very smooth but very complex and very well arranged. Retreat has stunning organ, great flute interplays and tinged guitars. So a great and timless album in my opinion, that desearve attention because is among the best from the '80's and among the best Rousseau albums. 4 stars for Retreat, recommended.
Report this review (#176252)
Posted Monday, July 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Rousseau´s second album was my first entry into this band. It´s very mellow, pastoral, an interesting combination of prog rock, classical music and light jazz. There is some good flute interplay with acoustic and electric guitars and very nice keyboards. Their first CD was totally instrumental, but on this one a singer, Herbert G. Ruppik , is included and he does a fine job on a few tracks to make it a varied and interesting work.

It is very hard to believe Retreat was released in 1983, as it is too retro and unfashinable for its time. I can´think of anything less marketable for that year, so I´m quite admired for their boldness (and the recording company´s for the matter). Although I liked all the tracks, there is othing here that I can say it is a real highlight. There are no lows, nor highs. it´s all very smooth and lovely, although I do miss something more challeging or heavier at times. Production is quite good.

All in all I liked this CD. It is not enough to warrant a four star rating, at least in my collection. But still is quite good and I do have a soft spot for it since Rousseau sometimes remind me of much of the symphonic works brazilian bands were doing at the time. Final rating: 3,5 stars. Recommeded.

Report this review (#291400)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another warm-hearted melodic prog.

I became a fan of this band just by 20 seconds as the flute and guitars were so beautiful as CAMEL as everybody says. Even vocals sound like Andy Latimer to me. If they were CAMEL wanna-be, they succeeded.

They say it was recorded in 1982, but the record sound was rather good. This is also an advantage of German rock bands. The main instruments' sound are very clear and it suites if you are digital player listener.

You may need more solid, or harder parts in prog rock, but this kind of soft melodic will heal you at night, and this is the reason why I love these prog music.

4 ratings with no hesitation.

Report this review (#293750)
Posted Sunday, August 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars There was still some room for Progressive Rock music in Germany during the 80's as history prooved with the case of Rousseau, who's album ''Flower in Asphalt'' received decent radio airplay and press feedback, leading the band to several live shows.However Jörg Schwarz decided to leave the band in 1981 and he was replaced by Christoph Masbaum.In 1983 Rousseau entered the Spygel Studios in Kirchheim and recorded their sophomore album ''Retreat'', which was released on the obscure Sri Lanca label.They were joined also by Herbert Ruppik, who contributed vocals in a few songs.

Musically Rousseau insisted on playing melodic Progressive Rock with blinks in the Symphonic Rock movement of the 70's, which was the band's biggest inspiration.The biggest difference to ''Flower in Asphalt'' was certainly the addition of some vocal tracks among the familiar instrumental ones, which were more easy-listening, still maintaining the symphonic leanings and generally the artistic value of their music.The biggest influence of the group remains the mid-70's period CAMEL.The ten short tracks of the album alternate between melodic guitar hooks, twisting flutes and dreamy keyboard textures along the lines of Andy Latimer and Peter Bardens.The musicianship is very strong, I think it lacks some of killer instrumental ideas and the highly impressive interplays of the debut, but there are still some nice arrangements to be found here with deep melodic content, while Huster and Masbaum offer a fair dose of light interplays with their flute and guitars.Huster is also responsible for some of the ethereal acoustic parts delivered in the album.

Another strong work by this German group.Not exactly in the same level as their debut, but still there are little chances to find a much better Prog effort from 1983.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#922066)
Posted Sunday, March 3, 2013 | Review Permalink

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