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Earth And Fire - To The World Of The Future CD (album) cover


Earth And Fire

Symphonic Prog

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3 stars The law of diminishing return seems to apply for EARTH & FIRE. Again, another two year wait between LPs, but at least they tied people over the previous year (1974) with a single entitled "Love of Life"/"Tuffy the Cat". At this point, original bassist Hans Ziech left (but still continued writing material at this point), with new bassist Theo Hurts replacing him. This album is a bit of a departure from their previous offerings. The Mellotron isn't as present (it's still used, but this time, it's the white 400 model, and string synths are now used), but the band increased the synthesizers quite a bit. Also, some disco tendencies are starting to show.

The album opens up with the title track, which starts off with a sequence of spacy synthesizer sounds, before the music kicks in. The music itself has more of a disco sound that would obviously throw off old time EARTH & FIRE fans. It's not bad, and there's still that progressive element. The next song is the ever sappy and (in my book) unbearable "How Time Flies". Just overdramatic and overly sentimental. Luckily the album rebounds nicely with the instrumental "The Last Seagull". It starts off with the sound of seagulls, and the spacy string synths come in, before the band jams with electric piano and guitar. It's nice to hear the band using electric piano and string synths, sure gives the band more dimension, that's a plus. "Only Time Will Tell" was another song released as a single, is more in the vein of their previous album, "Atlantis". "Voice From Yonder" is another favorite of mine, it starts off with an electric piano. The lyrics deal with a seance, and in fact, the band was apparently conducting a seance, and you even hear a voice used from that seance. What a cool song that is. Then there's "Love of Life", which was already released as a single the previous year. This song previewed listeners the direction EARTH & FIRE was heading (that meant a more synth-heavy direction). Then the album closes with "Circus", which is a great song that goes through several changes.

"To the World of the Future" was the very first EARTH & FIRE album I was ever exposed to, thanks to my dad buying a copy when I was still a kid (I'm sure my dad probably didn't know what he was buying when he bought that album, but I'm glad he did, and I'm glad many years later I found out they had many more albums). Anyway, not as strong as their previous albums, but still worth having. (3 1/2 stars)

Report this review (#31583)
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I disagree with the labeling of this band as "Dutch answer to Genesis" as it was mentioned in the sleeve notes of one of their early albums. This album is by no exception. Yes, most of the tracks are keyboard and mellotron based but the composition is different structurally. The choice of melody is different. So, I think it's too simplistic assuming this band in the vein of GENESIS. I fail to classify under which box this band, especially this album, we should put in. It has female vocal. So what? Should it be classified under RENAISSANCE or BABE RUTH or ATLANTIS / FRUMPY? It is so silly classifying a band based on sexual genre of lead vocals.

I think the title track "To the world of the future" represents the heart of this album. It has great composition as the music flows dynamically starting with an upbeat tempo, a bit like disco music (not really, actually), moves slightly to a slower tempo. The bass line used is very dominant and set the right ambient of the track. Keyboard and mellotron are used significantly in this nice and dynamic track. Vocal part is done by JERNEY KAAGMAN and CHRIS KOOERTS in a dialogue style. It's a perfect combination of male and female vocal. The tag-line melody is really touchy and memorable. The inclusion of keyboard and mellotron sound at the background have made this track very rich in its musical nuances. This track is full of energy and can stimulate your positive emotional feeling and gear your motivation up. The guitar solo in the middle of the track is really stunning. I bet you'll love this track regardless you are a progger or not. It's a fantastic song! As I am writing this review, I have been playing this track four times with no sign of getting bored!

Having been rocked by the first track, the next "How time flies" is mellow track with acoustic guitar, female vocal and keyboard play. It's nice. No drumming in this track. It's a great break after an upbeat tempo track. . "The last seagull" is a great instrumental piece opened with keyboard sounds that create a situation at the beach. This track is heavily influenced by jazz with stunning organ / keyboard solo with mellotron sound at background. There is lead guitar solo as well. The music flows smoothly from start to the end without any surprise in melody or rhythm changes. It's very enjoyable track. "Circus" is a song with great melody and lead vocals. The organ solo in the middle of the song is really excellent. This is another track that I always repeat listening. Excellent composition. The band use many musical transitions in this track.

I think you will enjoy this album very much whether you like prog music or not. It's not a pop music, definitely. But is not as complex as any prog rock music. Music lovers would like this album, I think. For me, it's an excellent addition to my prog collection. RECOMMENDED. Buy the CD! The title track itself is worth for having this CD in your collection. Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Report this review (#31584)
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I never listened to their debut but I own their 2nd and 3rd album as a 2in1-CD, which I find really excellent. This follow-up here cannot keep the standard that much, but it's still a quite enjoyable one. The first song resembles after a rather spacey intro a bit synthesizer dance music but actually in its second half it starts to become really very good with great guitar play.The end is similar to the beginning with synthesizer and a reprise of the previous disco theme. Second one is a nice acoustical piece with beautiful vocals. The last seagull starts with sounds of surfing sea which lead to a rather jazzy/funky theme followed by a more symphonic middle part and a short reprise of the beginning part. Very nice instrumental one. Only time will tell is a very melodic and rather catchy song, but quite nice and not so bad. Voice of yonder starts with soft keys developing into a quite interesting and versatile track, good but not really awesome. Well The remaining two songs, I could really not say, that they are bad, but as well not really special.

As a conclusion this is a quite good album with no real failures but as well without any highlights and not on par anymore with the two preceding ones. A bit better than average but I'm hesitating to call it an essential one. 3.5 stars would be adequate I think!

Report this review (#31585)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars For me, this the best Dutch album ever recorded. Earth and Fire were at the peek of their career when they released this. I remember buying this album and being taking by it, on every track. Offcourse the single "Love of Life" was allready released and the rest is of equal (or better) quality. All songs are carefully arranged with the synthesizers in the front mix, but yet the guitars make there way if needed. And there's is a leading role for Jerney Kaagman. I rate this album much higher than the previous two, because here all tracks are outstanding and there's no filler at all)

This album was unavailable for a long time, except for a Japanese release (which I acquired for the ridicilous price of about 40 Euro) but was released in 1998 on the "3 Originals" with Atlantis and the follow up "Gate To Infinity", which also has some very good parts. If you don't have the "3 originals" grab it tomorrow....

Again, to me, the best Dutch album ever released!

Report this review (#59349)
Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the strongest and most symphonic albums in the genre. Earth & Fire was a good band. I think too many people didn't realised that. On the title track, female singer Jerney Kaagman (with her amazing voice) sings about people living in such great numbers, that they need to be moved over the streets with use of traffic-lights, representing the groups and colours of the numbers of people. Probably the band could look into the future that time.. ;-)? The track is very long, but so powerful and exciting!

How Time Flies is a very sad song, probably about getting older and changes.. Bit of an acoustic song, as this band could write more of those wonderful melodies..

3rd track, The Last Seagull, is probably one of the best tracks the band ever wrote. It's instrumental and includes some jazzy-influences. As always, the synthesizer, rhodes and guitar-work are majestic. The guitarist of this band (Chris Koerts) always has been very overlooked. He's very, very good. I think the title of the track speaks for itself.

Only Time Will Tell was a single at the time, and is a typical Earth & Fire song. A very melodic waltz.

Voice From Yonder is a favorite of mine. You can hear some voices of "dead people" here, which is very intriguing. The main part of the track is very dramatic.

Another single at the time was Love Of Life. This one really swings. The groove is strong, the melody is beautiful and Kaagman really lets her voice shine.

The closer is the superb Circus. 100% symphonic, and an amazing Hammond-organ solo in the middle part, accompanied by haunting mellotron-chords.

To The World Of The Future is not only the best album Earth & Fire ever made, it's also one of the best records of the symphonic genre. Unfortunately, the album never had any commercial success, so many people don't know it. It isn't available on a stand-alone CD either. You can only obtain it in the CD-box 3- originals, where 2 other very good albums of E&F are included too: Atlantis and Gate To Infinity, what turned out to be the last in 'old-style' E&F.

This is a very, very high recommedation. Go discover this excellent piece of music!

Report this review (#84182)
Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'To the world of future' is somewhat of a surprise. The songs sound more modern than on the predessors while the theme of the album, as the title states, offered the band to wander beyond the paths they had already gone. That is already shown in the title track where the keyboards create a very peculiar sound, taking the listener into some kind of sf- world. The more or less spoken text, followed by a beautiful and strong melodic outburst by both Jerney Kaagman and her fellow band members, are another gem of the title track. And more beautiful is to come. 'Voice from yonder' is another example of a song that takes you into unknown worlds. It contains a sample of a real seance (but what is real here?) at the start and during an intermission halfway the song, making it all quite weird but also very exciting to listen to. Add the formidable voice of Jerney and you'll have a great song. 'The last seagull' is simple but very effective. On the sound of a rushing tide and screaming gulls a nice instrumental piece is heard, very moody and very melancholic. In fact all the long songs on the album are very good. They are melodic, spacy, haunting and beautiful. Inbetween are the short tracks. They more of less disturb the album in one way because they wake you up out of a spacey mood. That counts the least for 'How time flies' that fits quite well but especially 'Only time will tell' and 'Love of life' don't fit in at all. While they are very nice songs themselves they simply don't work on the album. Earth & Fire should have recorded one of two of those long, spacy songs and they would have made a masterpiece. Now it is very enjoyable, together with 'Song of the marching children' and 'Atlantis' easily their best album but it could have been more.
Report this review (#95330)
Posted Saturday, October 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars An epic, a hit-single and some good to great songs to fill the album. Well, I started my review of "Atlantis" almost in the same way. Earth & Fire definitely uses the same artifices throughout their releases (this is the third one in a row; out of four).

The title track won't be as much influenced by the classical genre. It actually starts as an electronic-soul piece of music. Rather unexpected I would say.The song is very melodious and again the duo mellotron / Jerney works perfectly. At almost half time, a Floydian mood ("Echoes") is raising this good song to another level. Fantastic guitar solo, while the whole band plays in unisson. It is a fabulous moment of symphonic rock. There won't be many more of these performed by this good Dutch bandin the future, so let's enjoy it as much as we can...A very good opener.

As usual, we'll get some transitional tracks (only one on this album) : "How Many Flies". A bit flat, I should say.

When you listen to the keyboard sound during "The Last Seagul" intro (just before the start of the jazzy part, it is amazing to hear how close they are to the ones of Tubeway Army a little later - well four years or so). I'm not very attracted by this track but jazz is not really my cup of tea. The same jazzy touch will also be featured in "Voice From Yonder", but it will also feature some sci-fi parts (you know lke during the intro of "Diamond Dogs" from who you know) as well as true symph ones; so globally this one is substantially better.

It is remarkable how easily Earth & Fire will be able to release great hit-singles. Incredible melody, gorgeous keyboards and those vocals... Let's be honest. These songs might be pop ones, but they are fantastic. I wish all pop songs would be of that caliber. "Love Of Life" is pretty much similar. For the first time, Earth & Fire will record two pop songs on one album. I really do not mind since they do this with great skills.

With the closing number, the band releases another very pleasant song. "Circus" is as emotional as "Only Time will Tell" but its lenght allows to be far much more elaborate. This is my fave of the album. This might as well be the last album featuring so many symph moments, but we'll see...

This album is well balanced. No blunder, several very good songs. Of course this is not a masterpiece but three solid stars seem to be a decent rating (I wish I could rate this seven out of ten).

Report this review (#132586)
Posted Friday, August 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Evolution or sell-out? I still say evolution in the case of Earth and Fire on their third straight strong release. Mid 1970s elements are starting to creep in, especially in the synthesizer bleeps and blurps, but the compositions, vocals and band remain top notch.

The title epic opens the album and is dynamic and well developed even if a bit dated in the arrangements. "How Time Flies" is a gentle pop song with fine acoustic guitar and string and harp embellishments. this contrasts with a much more bombastic pop prog song with a memorable chorus "Only Time will Tell". On this album, Earth and Fire silences any doubts about their ability to produce quality prop and prog simultaneously. "Love of Life" incorporates disco elements and even sounds at times like it might have inspired Abba, which I know is not a ringing endorsement on this list, but "Circus" packs a powerful punch of multilayered Gerard and Chris Koerts keys and fine percussion.

Many quality aspects of the bands' sound remain intact, but this is definitely a step down from the band that began the 1970s, chiefly in the dated arrangements and the lack of direction in some of the tracks, like "Last Seagull". Knowing what the world of the future held, it is not surprising that Earth and Fire chose this route. 3.5 stars rounded down.

Report this review (#169849)
Posted Sunday, May 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Last great album of this dutch band

Better than previous one Atlantis in my opinion more symphonic more catchy tunes. The album starts with the title track To the world of the future a composition over 10 minutes with upbeat tempo, even in places some funky elements but very symphonic in the end. The last seagull is an instrumental piece and i think , at least for me the best piece from here with symphonic touches but with some jazzy interplay, and Love of life is again a hit of the band from that year, more a pop tune with a comercial touch. These three are the best pieces from this album, the rest is ok. So, a great album, maybe the last great album of Earth & Fire from the symphonic era of the band. 3.5 rounded to 4 for me a well balanced album with no fillers.

Report this review (#176339)
Posted Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
2 stars It's really hard to believe this is the same band who made "Song Of The Marching Children" although I could say that about their other albums too.

They get off to a really bad start with "To The World Of The Future" which to my ears sounds awful especially the synths.The best part is the guitar after 6 1/2 minutes that goes on until after 8 minutes, but then it's back to that previous sound unfortunately. "How Time Flies" isn't too bad but i'm not convinced here either. "The Last Seagull" opens with the sounds of waves and seagulls before synths and a beat take over. Bass, guitar and keys follow. Kind of funky.

"Only Time Will Tell" features prominant guitar early then it settles with almost spoken words. "Vote From Yonder" is pastoral with piano. It kicks in before a minute as male then female vocals take over. Themes are repeated. "Love Of Life" is another poor track as synths and a beat lead early. Guitar then vocals follow. "Circus" contrasts the mellow and fuller passages. Lots of mellotron. I like the keyboards 2 1/2 minutes in.

2 stars is all I can muster here.

Report this review (#282270)
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
5 stars Song for song, this is probably Earth and Fire's most consistent album. While still keeping one foot in the progressive rock style, here the band starts to branch out into funk, which could have been an awkward fit for a band like this, if the songwriting wasn't so unfailingly strong. Gone is the Mellotron for the most part, replaced by some really tasteful electric piano and some string synths.

On the pop side, this album sports two very strong singles, "Only Time Will Tell", which reminds me a little of Kayak, and "Love of Life", one of their earliest disco-ish tracks, but with a soaringly triumphant chorus that will win over all but the most cynical listener. The wah-wah guitar playing by Chris Koerts is oodles of fun, and Jerney Kaagman (vocals) belts out the chorus with gusto. As McCartney once said, "Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs... what's wrong with that?"

Three lengthy tracks explore the band's prog inclinations. The 10-minute title track uses group vocals and a funky rhythm to establish the paranoid main theme, merging into a slow middle section with an emotional guitar solo, before returning to the main theme. The excellent instrumental "The Last Seagull" is unlike anything they'd tried to this point, and reminds me of something off of Stevie Wonder's "Secret Life of Plants" album (though this was released before Wonder's album) - atmospheric electric piano-fueled jazz fusion, really really cool. And lastly, "Voice From Yonder" is a frantic piece that begins with a really hot electric piano cadenza, a fast vocal section with Koerts and Jerney Kaagman trading lead vocals. Again, there's a slow, dramatic middle section, followed by a reprise of the opening section.

Seven tracks, and really not a dud in the bunch. I think this album best represents their range - straddled halfway between the prog-styled past and the pop-styled future, with some elements we wouldn't see again (e.g. the electric piano). Excellent!

Report this review (#756274)
Posted Monday, May 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars It seems to me that around the time this album was made, Earth And Fire finally realized they would never be a īproperī symphonic prog band like their english peers and decided to do their own thing. Maybe thatīs why this CD is still very progressive and yet quite different. Overall To The World Of The Future sounds less forced than their previous effords and the flow is much more even. The opener is the title track, a 10+ minute epic with several mood and tempo swings, great male and female vocal interplay, fine and varied instrumental parts. So varied indeed, itīs almost a schizofrenic song, but somehow it works. It is like the groupīs statement over the album: if it sounds good to us, anything goes!

The rest of the CD is in the same vain: light acoustic stuff (How Time Flies), an interesting mix of jazz rock and Camel (the instrumental The Last Seagul), the prog meets pop of Only Time Will Tell, the impossible to label Vote From Yonder (again several different parts in one song, all linked by the catchy chorus), the prog funk Love Of Life (great female vocal performance by singer Jerney Kaagman) and the Queen-like Circus (so corny arrangements at some parts you have to believe they are being ironic). Once more you canīt deny the brilliant musical prowness of all band members, the origianl and esquisite arrangements and the powerhouse vocal delivery of Kaagman, unfortunalty a very underated vocalist. Sound quality overall is excellent.

Conclusion: either loving it ou hating it, this album proves the band finally found its particular kind of music. Still very progressive and interesting, even if the ītraditionalī elements of symphonic rock were left aside a bit. Itīs accessible, but itīs also bold and quite original. Thatīs progressive in the true sense of the word.

Rating: 4 stars.

Report this review (#760110)
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars R.I.P. : Gerard Koerts (who died early 2019)

In 1974 Dutch prog pride Earth & Fire was thinking about its musical direction: to continue with the Song Of The Marching Children formula, or to broaden the musical horizon with new progressive ideas? Because some members got in touch with the swinging jazz and jazzrock from Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and especially the awesome Mahavishnu Orchestra. One year later the band released their new studio-album To The World Of The Future, how about the musical direction, and the progressive ideas?

1. To The World Of The Future (10:47) : The new album starts with a catchy beat and cheerful ARP synthesizer flights, is the new musical direction disco prog? No, because this composition also contains 24-carat symphonic rock, embellished with majestic Mellotron drops and sensitive guitar leads, along classical orchestrations. Also a wonderful part with a strongly build- up, very moving guitar solo, topped with lush Hammond. And we can enjoy famous Dutch conga player Neppie (or Nippy) Noya, known from his work with Jan Akkerman, Billy Cobham, Chaka Khan and Eric Burdon, a pleasant exotic flavour.

2. How Time Flies (3:10) : A wonderful ballad with warm vocals, soaring harp play and intense Mellotron violins.

3. The Last Seagull (6:55) : This an instrumental track that begins with a swinging rhythm and sparkling electric piano, then trademark Earth & Fire symphonic rock, and finally the propulsive conga beat from Neppie Noya.

4. Only Time Will Tell (3:46) : A captivating blend of jazzrock and symphonic rock, Jerney Kaagman shines with a very strong vocal contribution, topped with Mellotron violins from the late Gerard Koerts, this was an Earth & Fire trademark keyboard sound.

5. Voice From Yonder (7:00) : First an intro featuring the distinctive Fender Rhodes electric piano, followed by a swinging rhythm with nice vocal ideas. Then the trademark Earth & Fire, a surprising conga and Mellotron choir duet, and finally that swinging Fender piano, a strong and varied mid-long composition.

6. Love Of Life (3:21) : This Earth & Fire disco prog formula turned into a huge commercial success: swinging, vintage keyboards (Mellotron) and Jerney her bit sultry voice, the sexy appearance in legendary Dutch Toppop contributed to that succes.

7. Circus (6:12) : The final composition sounds wonderful with its dreamy atmosphere, Jerney shines again with high pitched and emotional vocals. This is topped by a long and swirling solo on the Hammond organ.

The bonustracks are several A and B sides from hit singles, like Thanks For The Love and the awfully commercial What Difference Does It Make.

Apart from the irritating disco prog factor on this album, Earth & Fire delivers a lot of interesting prog moments, obviously inspired by the legendary jazz and jazzrock, as mentioned in the intro of this review.

My rating: 3,5 star.

Report this review (#2205137)
Posted Friday, May 24, 2019 | Review Permalink

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