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Fruupp - Modern Masquerades CD (album) cover

MODERN MASQUERADES

Fruupp

Symphonic Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars As keyboardist Houston had left, taking away his wind instrument (all too rarely used, anyway), they brought in John Mason. This was not the only change, as ex-Crimson man Ian McDonald produced the album and added some sax. So as you might guess, the atmosphere on this album is a bit different, but the spirit of Fruupp is clearly still present. As a newcomer, Mason will contribute two songs including the cornerstone Gormenghast and the closer Sheba.

The opening Misty Morning is giving a good start to the album and can be considered a highlight of theirs. As I spoke of Gormenghast, above this almost 11-min track is at times reminiscent of Hackett's contributions to Genesis. Opening the second side is Mystery Night, which is also a highlight with impressive instrumentation.

While I would not call this last album any better or worse than the previous three, it was clear, that Fruupp was coming to an end. They never managed to have their own typical sound, were not able to progress enough from a strong start and maybe, just maybe, did not have what it takes. Anyway, one track's title seems to be resuming their rather quiet career ending album/ Masquerading With Dawn (their label). I think, without disrespect, that name could fit for their full career.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#3125)
Posted Tuesday, March 02, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars FRUUPP were one of Ireland's greatest bands and produced a number of great albums in the 70's with "Modern Masquerades" being one of my personal picks of the litter. Musically these guys were highly talented offering some creative song writing and instrumentation. On this album the lush keyboard work of Stephen Houston stands out with some pretty huge mellotron and keyboard passages and atmospheres. Peter Farrelly's bass and vocals are at times simply stunning, delivering the perfect mix of vocals and harmonization. Martin Foye's drums and Vincent Mc Cusker's guitars blend all the music together and add some great musicianship. Their overall sound is not unlike "Trespass" circa GENESIS, but with a much heavier folk influence. An interesting note is that this album was also produced by KING CRIMSON's Ian McDonald.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#3126)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A little bit dated, but you recognize their typical atmospheres here! It's their attempt to take the old music excursions coming from the first pastoral albums in the vein of "Trespass", by the early GENESIS, moving to a new direction, that is a music "renewal" ... but the output is controversial!!

It's not their best album, even though you find some interesting elements within, in comparison to their glorious past.

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#3127)
Posted Thursday, April 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars After cutting The Prince Of Heaven's Eye, Fruupp was suddenly forced into a line-up change when keyboardist Steven Houston found religion and left to be replaced by John Mason. Despite a presumably more worldly addition to the band's sound, and a helping hand from King Crimson star Ian McDonald, Fruupp was unable to overcome its critical flaws for its fourth and final album.

Modern Masquerades must have been recorded in a real rush because it hit the stores just three months after its predecessor, and as one might guess, there isn't really too much of a progression in the group's sound. Peter Farelly's vocals are occassionally hopeless (particularly on the opener Misty Morning Way), there are a fair number of pleasant passages that usually get lost in the murky big picture ... the midsection of Masquerading With Dawn has a nice ominious build up first on guitar and then on keyboard, the 10 minute Gormenghast has moments of Camel-esque splendour and the closer Sheba's Song has a swinging jazzy jam and some nice shifts in dynamics ... but all too often this is lost amid large chunks of unapetisizing filler. The album is rounded off by a touching piano/strings ballad Why and the upbeat ditty Janet Planet, which are, somewhat shockingly, both the least progressive and the most memorable tracks here.

While this record is marginally superior to The Prince Of Heaven's Eye, it is nowhere near as strong as Fruupp's finest effort, the debut Future Legends, which merely emphasizes the fact that Fruupp never fulfilled its potential. There are scores of prog bands one should turn to before coming to this lot. ... 46% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#71066)
Posted Saturday, March 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The least one can say about "Fruupp" is that the band was very prolific. No less than four albums in two year's time. Quite a challenge ! This album combines their beautiful symphonic music with soft jazz like during "Gormenghast" and "Mystery Might" which opens really fine : sweet piano and so pleasant vocals. Mighty keys as well. And all of a sudden, the band starts an almost jazzy- jam. Weird.

The band went already this direction with their second opus "Seven Secrets" (which I very moderately appreciated) but this time, the jazzy flavours are more bearable (at least to my ears which don't praise that genre so much).

The poppish "Masquerading With Dawn" is quite naive. Very much "Beatles-esque" in terms of vocal harmonies. It gets brilliant during its bombastic finale which features an orgy of keys which is simply grandiose. And the delicate piano part just before the finale is splendid as well. So, half of a great song.

The music from this album is very much similar to Camel. Mostly instrumental, soft for most of it. There will be a major blunder ("Janet Planet"). Lots of horns, an outdated and boring melody coming straight from the sixties. Fortunately it is a short song. "Why" being a mellow ballad not too much convincing.

I am not hundred per cent convinced with the mix symphonic prog - jazz which available on this album. It is almost systematic. The closing number for instance offers such beautiful and pure symphonic moments. Luckily, the mix works pretty well in that one. My preferred track and the highlight of this good but not essential album.

Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#146460)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Modern production techniques.. At last!

For their final album, Fruupp encountered their first significant line up change, with Stephen Houston departing, to be replaced by John Mason. Additionally, rather than produce the album themselves, this time King Crimson's Ian McDonald was brought in to perform that role.

While the overall sound is familiar, being particularly reminiscent of the previous Prince of heaven's eyes (POHE), McDonald does bring with him some early Crimson-esque influences. The closing section of Misty morning way for example has the dominant mellotron sound which will forever be associated with ITCOTCK.

Here, the upbeat style, which made POHE so much more enjoyable than its predecessor, is mixed with the intricate prog sensibilities of the first album to create something rather enjoyable.

McDonald's production give the album a vitality which was noticeably lacking on previous releases, the instrumentation here being far better segregated, and much cleaner. On tracks such as Mystery might, the atmosphere is decidedly rich and invigorating. If only McDonald had been employed from the start, the whole story could have been different.

Sheba's song is the only track here which sounds as if it has been extended beyond what is warranted, the rather dull jazz interlude being superfluous.

In all, an album which shows that Fruupp could have been much more than ultimately they ever were. I think the overall reason why the band never established themselves as a major prog act is that they failed to come up with a signature piece. It is very difficult to name one track by them from any of their four albums which stands out as the band's masterpiece. They made enjoyable prog which has rightly received a certain amount of recognition in recent years, thanks in no small part to sites such as ProgArchives. I think though, on balance the limited recognition they have now achieved is about right.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#161477)
Posted Sunday, February 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Honestly, I have never heard about this irish quartet before spotting some reviews here in PA. And upon hearing this album is easy to understand why. Fruupp is the typical case where the band members are very skilled and well intentioned, the production is right and the singer is ok (although it is also their weakest point). The major problem is at the songwriting department: they are not capable of writing some interesting things and the record simply fails to catch your atention for very long. You can find some nice moments here and there, but little else.

This is their fourth (and last) release and, according to some people, their best. If it is, then I can understand why they were never a big name in business. The obvious great musicanship can't hide the fact those guys simply can't deliver something that really sticks on your ear. There are some Beatles and Moody Blues influences, but still they were unable to write captivating melodies like those bands. Not that the tracklist is bad: some tunes are good, but the songs fail to bring anything really exciting or convincing in the end. So, after repeated listenings, I'm still not moved by anything here save some parts of tracks like Germenghast, Sheba's Song and the beatlesque Masquerading With Dawn. Not even Ian Mcdonald (ex King Crimson, who is the producer and also plays some sax) could save this record from being quite boring. 2 stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#192183)
Posted Sunday, December 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album works well for me and is right up there with Seven Secrets as my favourite Fruupp album. I might be in a minority here but Farrelly's vocals with his melancholic laid-back delivery suites the music perfectly. A really good mixture of melodic pop with progressive elements with a touch of jazz and even funk (in the case mystery might).

The whole album (even the more upbeat parts) tends to have a melancholic feel with being laid back the majority of the time. But don't get me wrong, when it has to, they can rock. A bonus for me is the electric piano (ala Waterloo Lily Caravan or Steely Dan) even though others consider it to be a weakness. The melancholic mood of the album leads me to believe (whether true or not) that the band may have perhaps thought this would be their swan song. Just listen to Germenghast and Why and I cannot see how it could possibly anything other than that. My favorite song has to be Mystery Might as it's definitely the most progressive song in the bunch mixing symphonic, pop, jazz and even funk (ala Eela Craig). Maybe their best song. Sadly, the It's all up - Anthology does not include this song. Germenghast being my 2nd favorite song (and my top 5 favorite Fruupp songs). There are some weak moments though (ie, Janet Planet and parts of Sheba's song) but the album tends to flow along nice.

Again, Farrelly's vocals tend to be laid back and reserved to the point where it's effective. Many may consider that a weak spot but I thought it to be a strength (a matter of personal taste) much in the same way that Kerry Minnear (of Gentle Giant) tended to have relaxing vocals whereas Derek Shulman would come in with a vengance on some of the songs. In many cases, I preferred the Minnear vocals due to it's relaxing delivery. In the case of Farrelly, it's exactly the same way.

To my ears, a much much better album than their previous one. A nice way for them to end. I seem to remember reading that they had plans for another album after this but it never came to fruition.

If you liked the sound of Caravan's Waterloo Lily and you enjoy synphonic mixed with a little bit of jazz/funk and the electric piano along with pleasant laid back and reserved vocals, you could do worse than to check out this album.

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Send comments to progbaby (BETA) | Report this review (#196455)
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars This is a thoroughly winning candidate for "unknown prog jewel from the Golden Era (the very early 70's)" category and it should take its rightful place among the glitterati seated at the fabled Pantheon of Prog fame. There are some amazing "second tier" bands that were not that famous yet left behind some shinny moments (Solution, Trace, Ange, Atoll, PFM, Nova, Eloy, Triumvirat, Greenslade, Druid, Gryphon etc...). Fruupp from bleak, civil war-torn Northern Ireland were a fine set of musicians that had a quaint positive elegance that contrasts strongly with the doom-laden social atmosphere at the time. Proof again that prog does have honorable and curative powers and is not shy to display them in a perhaps misunderstood cocky way. Pretentiousness is valid only if there is no talent! Here, the sheer quality of the breezy musicianship is intoxicatingly attractive, from the solid foundation of drummer Martin Foye and his hyper-active bassist partner Peter Farrelly , whose voice is crushingly poignant as well , while keyboardist John Mason decorates with shining precision, never too flashy but clearly always elegant (especially his electric piano work that is really stunning). Guitarist Vince McCusker provides a raw, bluesier axe ride, closer perhaps to Martin Barre that fails not to please. The first 2 tracks are a concise indication that this will be a most astonishing event! Both "Misty Morning Way" and "Masquerading with Dawn" are jaw droppers while enticing the listener with unexpected reflections of passionate prog. The highlight composition is certainly the 10 minute "Gormenghast", a wholly appetizing slice of progressive rock with some Focus-like tempos, delicately weaving within the soundscapes provided by some stellar piano and sax, McCusker's fretboard glowing brightly, with incredible restraint. "Mystery Night" is creepily strange, hence sounding a tad outdated with all that muffled sound so prevalent at the time, dense cottony organ runs, until an angelic voice of irrepressible beauty enters the fray, the piano dancing in apparent glee , all waltzing to a melody that shapes the soul. It gets heavier midway through, massive waves of drum-propelled mellotron blasts, while the equestrian bass gallops off into the sunset, laying down some bopping furrows that are shockingly good! The raspy organ solo then shines some bluesy boogie into the picture; the guitar chugging along "funky" style; I mean this is 'fabulastic stuff'! "Why" is a short interlude, a simply unselfish ballad, undyingly fragile with its sorrowful attestation of honest love (oh! the naďveté!) with a heavenly voice from Farrelly, piano again providing the musical backbone. A lovely piece of music! The very brief and very infantile "Janet Planet is typical of the region, almost like pub sing-along music that is cute but really nothing prog! "Sheba's Song" is an 8 minute closer that has some superior moments cruising though some scintillating drumming ŕ la Michael Giles, a sweet guitar loop that breeds well with the resonant e-piano droplets, a successful little jazz/romp mid-section where Mason really proves my e-point resolutely. This is a severe omission if it's not in any serious collection, this being an altogether valiant and pleasant journey back into a time when things were not like they are today (don't get me going!!!). These Irish lads made vibrant music when apathy and hate ruled this part of the globe, they are to be lauded and applauded, especially if its sounds dated. 4.5 Eyes Wide Shut!

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#237242)
Posted Saturday, September 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars The final Fruupp album went the same way were their masters Genesis went: Down the road to nodding popland.

The album starts promising. But I soon get the vibes I got from the Genesis albums post Duke. Those are not good vibes. Fruupp has to all extent left the prog rock world behind here and gone for stardom as a middle of the road pop band. There was a lot of Irish pop bands at that time with the same sound and the same kind of pop music. There are some hints of previous great prog rock, but they are far between. Most of the music here is simple sophisticated pop with a driving piano and some guitars. This is the stuff you find in the cabaret clubs. That's probably where this band ended up too. The vocals are pretty painful. The songs is anonymous. It is sad to see this band sink this low. The last half of this album is really painfully to witness. Pomp pop and cabaret music.

A small star for the few remnants of the great band Fruupp was on their second album. This album is not in the same league though and a real flop in my view. Sad.

2 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#256892)
Posted Saturday, December 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars If I were to say what the Irish groups that I like more classic names should be listed: Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore (also with Skid Row), Taste/ Rory Gallagher and Fruupp. Now fruupp is a great band if Gabriel's Genesis and Renaissance please you because Fruupp is the perfect mix between these two bands. Clear, because it is clear, without the magic of Genesis or Renaissance but with a great Fruupp magic. The music is complex and not easy, also if the listen is easy. The sound is a great poem. The production is light and not oppressive.

Said these affermations I think that "Modern Masquerade" is a good album. In the vein of Renaissance are securely the the plots between melody and soli, also rhythmics. In the vain of Genesis are securly the various rhythm changes, also with particular rhythmic figures, not conventional. In some moments the voice is in the vein of Steve Winwood but with more in Folk field that in Soul field. So the final result is a complex in rhythm and easy in sound electric Symphonic Prog... 24 charat Symphonic Prog. That is perfect still today!

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Send comments to 1967/ 1976 (BETA) | Report this review (#365292)
Posted Monday, December 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars John Mason replaced Stephen Houston for this Fruupp album, which I consider to be a mild return to form after the disappointing two previous albums. Steering towards the mainstream crossover end of the symphonic spectrum, the band manage to incorporate other genres into their music rather better this time around (with a jazz jam breaking out in Mystery Might), perhaps thanks to the guiding hand of Ian McDonald (who produced the album and provides saxophone interjections).

The second half of the album is probably weaker - Mystery Might is padded out a bit much, Why is a limp torch song, Janet Planet is cabaret nonsense and Sheba's Song goes nowhere. The first three tracks, however, are a crossover-pastoral tour de force, the first two tracks integrating Fruupp's cabaret flirtations much more smoothly than usual and Gormenghast being a full prog rock epic, with a hint of Canterbury about the edges and a direction not unlike that Camel would take in the later years of the decade. Here John Mason's more subtle keyboard style works to the album's advantage, allowing the other instrumentalists in the band a chance to take the spotlight to an extent they hadn't before.

On balance, I have to give this one two stars because I just can't stand the second side, but there's a solid four-star side 1 here married to a weak one-to-two star second half. It's a shame Fruupp never recaptured the high standards of their debut, and I'm inclined to blame their crazy work schedule - recording four albums in the space of one and a half years, during which they not only had to find a replacement lead singer and keyboardist but also undertook tours with hard-working megastars like Genesis and Queen. I don't think any band could be seriously expected to write high-quality new material under such a gruelling schedule, and it's no surprise to me that the band burned out. Had they taken things a bit more slowly, who knows where they could have gone?

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#537016)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I've always had a thing for Fruupp. The odd name attracted me at first, leading me to discover "Prince of Heaven's eyes" which is a jolly little affair well worth checking out. Though Irish i would say that not that much leads me to think of the Green Island. Surely there are folky influences in their music but not to the extent that Horslips, for instance, do. Rather Fruupp progressed from a harsh sounding prog outfit to a smoother, more symphonic one. Though I award "Modern masquerades" only three stars, it still holds a special place in my heart due to a few songs in particular. These are songs that beautifully demonstrate the gentleness and symphonic touch of these ought to be giants in progressive rock.

The first two tracks are astonishing and such outstanding examples of all that's great about prog in general but in the british (by that I mean the british isles) in particular. The jewel in the crown, however, is the track Gormenghast. Based, obviously, on Titus Groan, the novel by Mervyn Peake that inspired so many a band in the 70's, is like a warm embrace with it's lush and beautiful arrangements. The gentle voice of the vocalist soars on top of it all like a gentle breeze. Balancing on the brink of 11 minutes it is no short of a masterpiece. Really. (And now I used the very word I elaborated on earlier this morning, thus claiming this song to have that je ne sais quai that is so hard to put down in words.)

All in all, the remaining tracks, though not bad but not very special either, draws down the rating a bit. Still, the track Gormenghast is worth every penny for the CD or vinyl. Listen and be ready to float oway on the wings of heavenly bliss that is Fruupp at it's best. No, at prog's best, that should read.

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Send comments to GruvanDahlman (BETA) | Report this review (#1283832)
Posted Thursday, September 25, 2014 | Review Permalink

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