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kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Thomas Thielen is back with his second album for GEP, his eighth overall, and on this one he only wrote, arranged, performed, recorded, mixed, and mastered the music which is why he only gets a co-credit for the artwork, I guess. I have followed his career with interest since I was sent his second album, 'Voices', some 16 years ago and have reviewed every one since. Some of them have received top marks, one only average, and the rest in between, so what would this album be like? Here we see Thomas moving more into art rock territory, and while some will point to bands like modern Marillion as influences, the one which stands out most to me is Bowie. He was one of a host of artists I referenced on his last album, 2019's 'Solipsystemology', but here is it is much more obvious, especially as there is much more focus on vocals this time around.

It is an album which does take repeated listening, at least for me, as the style being used is not one to which I listen to a great deal, but the more this is played the more it is recognised that here is a work of some import as there is just so much in it, even though the arrangements often seem sparse. It could be the faint in the background guitar rise, or sound effects, or the way a keyboard dramatically comes out of nowhere, or the way the vocals can totally change their position within the layering. There is a lot to listen to here, and that is the key phrase, as this is an album which really does need listening to. This is music from the old days, when I used to sit on my bed with the album cover and lyrics (if you were lucky) in my hands, falling deep into the artist's world, and that is the same here except now I am sat in a chair with a glass of Otago Pinot Noir close to hand, playing it on headphones and reading the lyrics in the booklet. While it can be played in the background, it is only by paying close attention that one can get inside the music and realise just how much effort has been put into every note, with constant decision-making taking place regarding which instrument should perform which part and then where that should be in the arrangement.

This may sound like a lot to take in, but what makes this album work so well is that it is just so easy to listen to, so enjoyable, and not once will people think this is the work of just one man as this is a full band, with real instruments as opposed to synthesising everything. There is a huge amount of space within the music which allows everything to breathe, and the result is something which is very special indeed. Easy to listen to while never easy listening, this is probably the finest release from Thomas yet, and well worthy of investigation by all lovers of prog and art rock.

Report this review (#2715021)
Posted Saturday, April 2, 2022 | Review Permalink
5 stars T alias Thomas THIELEN releases his 8th album! After SCYTHE he embarked on long concept albums playing all the instruments! Melancholy hovering ambient prog, similarities with PORCUPINE TREE for the long developments, GAZPACHO for the flights, SAVIOR MACHINE for the linked sung titles. Voice ŕ la Hogarth, ŕ Bowie and a unique and captivating experience; to listen to before trying to own it to avoid forgetting the substantial musical marrow. T releases his albums to listen to them, appreciate them, immerse himself in them with delight and progression, to get lost in them and fall into pareidolia, an imaginative spatial space without concession.

'The Same Old Everything' direct attack after soft intro on the voice of Thomas aerial, crystalline, eyeing that of Hogarth; sensitivity, charm, poise; the voice is present in every corner of this long piece, 6 of the 8 titles over the 10 minutes for contemplative convolutions; remembering what the SAVIOR MACHINE did in a more violent style with an omnipresent voice which also starts with the warm voice of the late David BOWIE; the guitar solo is well in the neo prog movement at ROTHERY, the finale on a musical opera worthy of 'The Wall', in short superb lamentative and airy title, oxymoron if there is one. 'The Light at the End of the Light' continues on a dark and meditative tune, mineral spleen combined with a cascading harmony, the 6-string guitar solo in the middle takes the title further as its name suggests; a title lacking in contrast until the instrumental Marillionesque finale that is worth its weight and a sound filled with cotton to fall asleep in reverie! 'How Not to Speak' for the echoing ethereal piano interlude; simple, organic, back-phrased voice effective to launch 'The Idiot's Prayer' radio title short edit, declination where the Hogarthan voice blends ideally with the instruments, much better than in a Marillion the height; finale in distressing echo leading to spiritual musical elevation.

'The Scars of the Sky' attacks the first of 4 long tracks and bis repetita for a dark, oppressive declination, an underlay, a musical ersatz with the framework centered on Thomas and his voice; the heavy guitar break seduces then it starts again like a wave crashing on the pebbles inexorably; it's beautiful and repetitive, it's energetic and discordant with this aggressive bass and this drums which never cease to put you in a trance until the voice leaves in a frenzied way, like a wave of 'Carmina' appears, then 'Behind This Pale Face' always chained, to see in concert just for that; a long dreamlike crescendo that harkens back to the Hogarth era, nervous title favoring even more the trance because yes you understood it Thomas uses his voice like an instrument, like a gladiator's sword in the firmament of the attack of the beasts in the 'arena. 'A Relevant Lovesong' just for this Rotheryian solo which is currently missing in the last opuses of the said Marillion; a nervous space ŕ la Banks, a cozy atmosphere, an electro time during the intimate break and always this sound between spleen and staggering emotion; the title that ends up melting the last recalcitrant in view of the plaintive final crescendo superior to a 'Brave'. 'Tell the Neighbors We're Fine' ends pompously, grandiloquently and spleenically; a dreamlike crescendical rise with voice-over, echoing choirs, the vibrating, fleshy, velvety six-string; a point his voice reminiscent of Bowie sends me on the progressive drifts of the Secret Machines precisely; sung prog where the voice blends into the notes, what more could you ask for? T has passed his entrance exam; it remains in its melodic framework while adding vibrations, a universe, a unique musical concept; he transcends the sound of his instruments and his voice to make new-neo-prog engendering emotion at its height, art rock quite simply, almost unthinkable coming from a single man. So yes it may seem repetitive but it is above all evolutionary. T it is tormidable and rare in this year.

Report this review (#2736646)
Posted Saturday, April 9, 2022 | Review Permalink
2 stars I don't get it. What is so great about this album? I think it's commendable to create this as a solo endeavour. But this album pales in comparison with the prog greats. I don't see how I could give this the same rating as an album like 2112, let alone CTTE.

For starters, I don't like the singing from Thomas Tielen. A nasal, poor version of David Bowie. But the compositions are flat too. They are well crafted, sure. But there's more to a great record than craftmanship.

There's nothing new here, nothing amazing, nothing shocking. I'm torn between a one-star or two-star rating. I don't want to call it poor though. So I rate it 2 stars.

Report this review (#2738280)
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2022 | Review Permalink

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