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Poor Genetic Material

Crossover Prog

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Poor Genetic Material Island Noises album cover
3.35 | 25 ratings | 4 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (46:15)
1. Roarers (5:39)
2. A Dance So Strange (4:44)
3. Brave New World - Part 1 (3:56)
4. Brave New World - Part 2 (5:52)
5. Caliban's Dream (6:09)
6. Island Noises (19:55)

CD 2 (51:27)
7. Banquet of Illusion (5:49)
8. Assassins and Sleepers (5:47)
9. In a State of Grace (6:22)
10. Fountain of Innocence (8:38)
11. Sycorax (4:32)
12. Ariel (2:42)
13. Drowning the Book (9:04)
14. Dreamstuff (8:33)

Total Time 97:42

Line-up / Musicians

- Philip Griffiths / vocals
- Stefan Glomb / guitars
- Philipp Jaehne / keyboards
- Dennis Sturm / bass
- Dominik Steinbacher / drums

- Jutta Brandl / vocals
- Martin Griffiths / recitation
- Pia Darmstaedter / flute
- Martin Lengsfeld / piano (3,10,14)

Releases information

Concept album based on The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Artwork: Gaby Floerchinger

2CD ProgRock Records ‎- PRR 305 (2011, Germany)

Thanks to mosesfusion for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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POOR GENETIC MATERIAL Island Noises ratings distribution

(25 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

POOR GENETIC MATERIAL Island Noises reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars German band POOR GENETIC MATERIAL initially started out as a duo with an aim to create music suitable to be used as soundtrack music, but a chance encounter with the German art rock band Alias Eye has led to developments towards rather different musical territories. Eventually settling down as a five man strong band, PGM has made a name for themselves in their native Germany as a band excelling in melodic progressive rock. "Island Noises" is their seventh production, and was issued in the spring of 2011 by the US label Progrock Records.

While not exactly adhering to that approach, Poor Genetic Material's latest production "Island Noises" is one that will have the strongest appeal amongst fans of neo progressive rock. The emphasis on harmonic melodies and the symphonic use of keyboard textures are features that will delight many who are fond of this stylistic expression. And while a few parts might be too smooth for some and the odd flirt with AOR style melodic rock may not suit everybody, the overall conclusion for me is that this crowd will be the key audience of this production. With melodic rock fans able to appreciate sophisticated features a second audience I believe this band should seek out.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Island Noises' - Poor Genetic Material (6/10)

Poor Genetic Material is a German melodic prog band, one of many to grace my ears in recent weeks. In today's overly recycled and inconsistent prog scene, making a double album can sometimes be seen as a last-ditch attempt to distinguish oneself from the merciless hordes of Genesis copycats and the like. Poor Genetic Material do manage to release an hour and a half of generally enjoyable music here, but all the same, I do not think that this is quite enough to make them leap up from their peers. 'Island Noises' is a very warm and enjoyable, yet tame release.

A project that initially set out to make soundtrack music, Poor Genetic Material have since sought to go for a more melodic route in their music, although the ambient direction typically associated with soundtrack or film music is still here in the longer pieces of the album. As well, Poor Genetic Material write music in tribute to some literary material, which could be considered a soundtrack in itself. What I am referring to is their two-part rendition of 'Brave New World', one of my favourite novels. The band manages to take the core material and express it through a somewhat brooding, yet ultimately upbeat pair of tracks that make up the highlight of this album.

The performance of the musicians is quite well done, although the work with guitars and drums is nothing too impressive so as to shock the listener or anything. One aspect of the band that did really impress me were the vocals of Phil Griffiths, who has a strong voice on him. The music here is something that one would expect from melodic rock; nothing too adventurous, but pleasant and warm. One thing that does happen to work against the overall effect of this album is the length, which is also arguably its greatest selling point. At over an hour and a half long, this is a monster of music, that one would imagine needs many listens to properly digest. Sadly, there aren't enough nuances or depth enough to warrant such a long journey. Something half as long would have benefited the listener just as much, if not more. 'Island Noises' has some good melodic prog that I have enjoyed, despite not being a fan of the particular style itself.

Review by kev rowland
3 stars Poor Genetic Material was founded by Stefan Glomb (guitar) and Philipp Jaehne (keyboards) as an experimental project mainly working on soundtrack material. Singer Philip Griffiths (son of the legendary Beggars Opera singer Martin Griffiths) joined the original duo to work and record together and line-up changes brought in bass player Dennis Sturm and drummer Dominik Steinbacher along with flautist Pia Darmstaedter. The different personnel also saw a movement in musical direction and they became more prog and songs oriented. 'Island Noises' is their seventh release, and is a double concept album that is based on Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'. I can just imagine the gnashing of teeth in certain quarters who felt that musical elitism was blown away by the 'fresh air' of punk music.

It is not a retelling of the play itself, but rather a story based on elements and themes that can be found within it (so Caliban gets a whole song to himself). Of course, a decent epic prog concept album like this needs a narrator so Philip convinced his dad to step up to the mike once more (somewhat like Rick Wakeman narrating 'Jabberwocky' for Oliver). Not surprisingly that gained a lot of attention by some, but to be honest it is exactly what it is ? a linking performance to assist in bringing the whole thing together. Although this does have songs, in reality it is much more about being a single piece of music with movements. In places it is dreamy and at others quite Hackett-ish, all the time with a certain ethereal other worldly quality which is definitely in keeping with the subject matter. It is music that those into early Seventies prog will get a lot from, as opposed to those who prefer their prog to be more neo and rocky. Philip has a great voice, much like a young Michael Sadler at times, but although there are many layers of keyboards this is much more trad prog than Saga.

Overall a very enjoyable album, but be warned that at 1 hour 37 minutes it is a lot to listen to in one sitting, but rewards those who have the time to do so. It is not something that is easy to dip in and out of.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars After their season cycle, POOR GENETIC MATERIAL sought another source of inspiration for their abstract soundscapes. They marked time with a transitional album before appearing to settle on master literary works, the first of these being Shakespeare's "The Tempest". It took 4 years for this mammoth undertaking to reach fruition, in which time I would have wished for a compatible visual production which would have enhanced the experience.

I confess that this play by the bard was not on our required list for any English classes, so I am not familiar with the story, and I could imagine that a knowledge of the plot and characters, more so the themes might help an appreciation of this double CD. Still, it offers many pleasures, again walking a fine line between modern neo prog, old style symphonic prog, accessible rock, and ambient music; patient fans of all of these will find plenty to inspire them. I say patient because "Island Noises" is generally lower key than most prog and reveals itself in strata particular to each listener's sensibilities and vulnerabilities.

To dispense with the inevitable weaknesses of such an ambitious project, I have to say I am not a fan of any of the narrated parts that last more than 10 seconds or so, as they further decelerate the subtle momentum, and they cannot be programmed out. At almost 100 minutes, this could possibly have been pared to a long single disk with an executive decision here or there. And, finally, as alluded to, and perhaps related to the band's' legacy as soundtrack oriented writers, while the album is highly visual, at times I need a little help with the images, particularly on the more elongated atmospheric passages. Not that there is anything wrong with occasionally drifting off, but I keep feeling like I am missing a scene!

Of its many strengths, which I have to say do offer more than sufficient repudiation, the voice of PHIL GRIFFITHS continues to mature and sets the band so far above their contemporaries - it is heartfelt, always spot on, and fits the music to which it is set. The musicianship is confident and tight, and the arrangements and compositions appealing. Nowhere is this better illustrated than on the 20 minute title cut, a potpourri of all the styles represented by PGM in proportion and juxtaposition, with even some jazzy interludes. It all opens out to a jaunty vocal section about Caliban. Pia's flutes offset the pretensions as needed. Other superb tracks that may not seem so at first, which one can say about everything here, would be the almost classic symphonic "Roarers", the sweet ballad "Brave New World", the playful swing of "Assassins and Sleepers", "In a State of Grace", "Fountain of Innocence", "Drowning the Book", and the forward from the past looking "Dreamstuff", in which the impact of the story and author are examined.

Comparisons are challenging with PGM - I hear bits and pieces of classic and contemporary, but they have managed to retain their individuality through their eclectic nature, consummate vocalist, ambitious themes, and warm arrangements. At the risk of triggering a tempest in a teapot, I'd say these noises drown out most of their better known brethren.

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