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Steve Brockmann and George Andrade

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Steve Brockmann and George Andrade Airs - A Rock Opera album cover
3.50 | 15 ratings | 6 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fateful Days (7:37)
2. Grounded (5:25)
3. Kites (3:17)
4. Flight (6:37)
5. Current Events (5:23)
6. History (1:22)
7. Heritage (4:38)
8. Experiments (3:11)
9. Floating (1:32)
10. Annabelle (5:02)
11. The Center (4:40)
12. Fateful Days II (1:17)
13. Hannah (4:00)
14. The Great Salt Pond (5:52)
15. Grounded II (5:11)
16. Kites II (2:14)
17. Flight II (5:00)
18. Owen (1:39)

Total Time 73:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Brockmann / guitars, bass, keyboards
- Jochen Ohl / drums
- Dave Meros / bass
- Alan Morse / guitar effects & solos
- Christoph "Luppi" Brockmann / bass
- Phil Robertson / drums
- Paul Adrian Villarreal / vocals
- Gordon Tittsworth / vocals
- Tilman Eckelt / vocals
- Cornelius Kappabani / vocals
- Jan Hoving / vocals
- Floor Kraaijvanger / vocals
- Antila Thomsen / vocals
- Seann Jackson / dialogue
- Tony Kost / dialogue

Releases information

Fencesound Music

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STEVE BROCKMANN AND GEORGE ANDRADE Airs - A Rock Opera ratings distribution

(15 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(60%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andy Webb
3 stars Collaboration is a wonderful thing. People who lives hundreds or even thousands of miles apart can work together, even more so via the internet, to make truly wonderful things. Whether collaborations take place in the musical world, the writing world, the business world, or any other field, the convening of minds exposed to different cultures, peoples, and ideas is bound to produce a truly unique and exciting work. Thus, the collaboration between American writer George Andrade and German multi-instrumentalist Steve Brockmann, both known for exemplary creative works in the musical bailiwick, was bound to produce something special.

Steve Brockmann has been active in the German rock and metal scene since the early 1980s, playing with various bands and projects throughout his career. Andrade, however, is rather new to the whole professional music thing, only first arriving in the field with his band The Anabasis' debut album "Back from Being Gone" in mid-2011. The inter-Atlantic partnership yielded an exquisite output ? a 74-minute conceptual epic consisting of 6 lengthy pieces broken into 18 shorter sub-sections, most likely to make navigation of the voluminous beast of a composition easier.

The concept itself is grandiose in scheme, exploring the struggle of one Owen Doane with his past, where he, under the influence of alcohol and anti-depressants, passed out and rolled through a stop sign to force a young girl and her mother to veer off the road and strike a stone wall, which disabled the young girl, in his home on Block Island, Rhode Island, which booked him a fateful stay at the psych ward of the prison on the mainland. However, he is acquitted early after learning that his father is dying. He returns to find his father in a state of disregard, hastily placed in his old childhood room and left alone to die. Dismayed, Owen begins to attempt to piece together the family business which he destroyed with the lawsuit that followed the crash, and in the process finds a tome titled "The Book of Airs," which explores something along the lines of kites, creating flying devices, and working windmills, although the full content of the book never seem to be explained in the album. After discovering his father's passion, he takes the kites that his father was working on to an abandoned windmill after he is kicked out of his old house by his spiteful brother Craig. There he manages to reconnect with his childhood friend Anabelle, who had lost an arm to cancer, as well as the girl he disabled in the car crash, Hannah. He brings them to his windmill a number of times and manages to "activate," so to speak, the windmill's hidden purpose ? to expand into an air balloon-type device to allow the three to escape from gravity and, symbolically, their tortured pasts.

Of course a small paragraph such as that can't exactly capture the entire concept as complex and lengthy as this, and just a cursory read through the booklet can show the vast volume of lyrical narrative, sub-texts, and pseudo-stage directions. Steve Brockmann, on the musical aspect of the album, hasn't slacked in his department either. The album's 18 tracks explore a host of themes and elements, twisting and turning moods with the whim of the emotive lyrics, awakening the script from just words on a page to the heightened sense of emotion of which they deserve. Brockmann composes in a mainly Toto-esque AOR- flavored hard rock, utilizing progressive twists and turns a la Spock's Beard (which is no doubt accentuated by the guest players Dave Meros and Alan Morse, both of whom are of that popular prog rock band), as well as many a salute to the complex metal structures of Iron Maiden as well. While the album is not a de facto progressive rock album, Brockamnn and Andrade manage to work in many artsy and progressive flourishes, making it appealing to the prog listener in many respects as well. Brockmann's compositions also fill the criteria of an Ayreon-ian rock opera, utilizing a cast of vocalists to voice out different roles, often in singing in conversation. Granted, the multitude of singers who play Owen throughout the album can be rather disorienting, and a close following of the booklet is essentially the only way to figure out what's going on. The narrative style of the lyrics, too, give rise to very interesting song structures, as the songs often lack true "choruses" or "verses" but simply flow along with the story.

The music at times, however, seems to simply be there for the ride, not exactly developing to its full potential before changing pace with a new plot node. While every theme on the album cannot be fully drawn out if one wants to avoid making a 4-hour album, the evolution of many of themes leaves much to be desired. While the AOR as well seem to get on my nerves at times, entering, in layman's terms, "cheesy" regions with some of the reverby power chord-oriented riffing, but that rarely lasts for very long. With the free-flowing nature of the album, oftentimes any theme than I wasn't overly fond of would modulate into a different, more pleasing section rather quickly. The large album without a doubt contains something to please nearly every listener as well, as it explores a myriad of different styles ranging from progressive rock to hard rock to metal to soul and so much more, all feeding the overall atmosphere and truly bonding with the concept.

While listening to the album for the first time, it seemed far easier to pick out the flaws of the album rather than appreciate the strengths of the music. My first listens seemed to be dominated by "oh, that sounds a bit off" or "the singer doesn't quite fit the mood," but as the album played more and more, I began to really appreciate many of the nuances and descants of the album. I began saying "I really like that" and "that fits perfectly with the lyrics." Of course, a few of my old grievances remained the same, but over time I began to appreciate the album more and more and realize that the album is a true grower. The continuity of melodies, the truly "human" concept, the mature and accessible compositions, and the fantastic production quality make this album shine, showing the great creative prowess of the minds of George Andrade and Steve Brockmann. While not perfect, the album shows fantastic potential for a musical future of Brockmann ? Andrade, although there is, of course, room for improvement. A must for any AOR-prog fan. 3+ stars.

Review by lazland
4 stars Airs - A Rock Opera

"Opera. A dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble."

Rock opera. The above, but in a rock music setting. This is what is presented to us in Airs - A Rock Opera by the duo of Steve Brockmann & George Andrade. Thinking of some of the more famous exponents of such an art form, namely The Who, Queen, The Kinks, Jeff Wayne, and David Bowie, amongst others, they have a pretty hard job of living up to what is probably the hardest type of concept and recording to pull off successfully.

Have they done so? The answer is an emphatic yes. This is an exceptional album, both in terms of its music and, as importantly, the story behind it.

The heart of the story lies in tragedy, as with most of the finest operas. Owen Doane, whose family have lived and held important positions on their small island since 1664, rolled through a stop sign and drove a car carrying a mother and her nine year old daughter into a stone wall. The girl, Hannah, ends up paralysed from the waist down and, thus, confined to a wheelchair. The family business, pulling stone from fields before harvest and building walls after milling grain, collapses under the strain of supporting Hannah's needs.

The opera follows Owen as he returns home from prison and embarks on a journey of initial confrontation with his family, and thence to a journey of personal redemption utilising the inspiration of the beautiful wheelchair bound girl, his former girlfriend, and the wind and the air by flying his father's "magic" kites. At the close, he is free, at one with the air.

It really is very moving, and reminds me strongly of some of the finest American fiction exemplified by John Irving (albeit without the sexual variations!).

The music, performed by Steve Brockmann, who is a longstanding and highly respected German multi-instrumentalist, with guests, is every bit as good as the story which lies behind it, with the words provided by George Andrade, the lyricist behind the excellent Anabasis debut album in 2011.

There are five movements in the work, and I would say that it is essential that the work be listened to as a whole, rather than in pieces. Only by having the whole story do you even begin to appreciate the beauty behind it.

Musically, there is a great deal going on. The opening suite, Fateful Days (the longest on the work at 7:37 minutes), is a pastoral masterpiece, with a gorgeous piano accompanying the incredible Paul Adrian Villarreal describing Owen's journey home by sea, full of reflection and regret. I was, in truth, hooked as soon as I heard this. It is one of the strongest openings to an album I have heard in a long time.

There is, though, plenty more going on. The music, as a good opera should, reflects the mood of the story. So, on Kites we have a mournfully poignant acoustic guitar and piano informing us of Owen's aching regret and fear of meeting his Maker. Flight, a true highlight, is grandiose, with a tremendous riff and great drums backing Cornelius Kappabani as Owen. When Owen battles with the kite, the synths take over, soaring into the air with the kite itself.

There is pure opera on Current Events, with Owen and his bitter brother (bitter at the loss of the family business and fortune which had stood for so many centuries because of Owen) verbally sparring. The riffs and rhythm section are dark and heavy as Owen leaves home.

Annabelle, the track dedicated to Owen's former love, who loves him still and suffered the loss of an arm through cancer, is a very complex track, and, in parts, is about as near to the pomp, majesty, and commercial sensibilities of neo-prog as the album gets.

Singer Floor Kraavijanger excels as Annabelle with Gordon Tittsworth as Owen on The Center. It is clear that she still loves him, and the gentle opening sequence reflects that, before the piece becomes heavy to reflect the intimate and heated discourse between the lovers.

For me, though, the biggest delight in the whole album is the introduction of Hannah, the girl wheelchair bound owing to the accident, on the track which bears her name. If, like me, you are an absolute sucker for a gorgeous female rock vocalist, then check out Antila Thomsen's performance, which has at its heart a lovely, delicate, and fragile beauty. Here, Owen helps Hannah achieve flight with the kite herself, and the dramatic backdrop to this sets the scene perfectly.

On Airs, there is, to me, a passage of music that appealed to the late 1960's/early 1970's fan inside me, with music evocative of the Deep Purple, Kinks, and Who music of that period.

She Flys is gloriously happy as the wish of flight is fulfilled.

On Grounded II, we have some prog metal in all of its fiery glory, with passages that bring to mind the best of Iron Maiden, without ever being stereotypical.

For fans of the symphonic, check out the lovely Kites II, which starts with a lovely piano piece, before a soaring guitar solo takes centre stage.

Speaking of which, Spock's Beard fans will absolutely enjoy Flight II, in which Alan Morse delivers just about the perfect guitar movement. Morse does not, however, have the entire track to himself. Kappabani excels as Owen, singing and describing perfectly a loud, proud man who will find his freedom in the air.

When we get to Owen, the closer, we have a denouement as gorgeous as the opening track, one which tells us of the freedom attained by Owen, at one with the air, with the accepted past now well and truly behind him.

So, a massive mixture of music here, ranging from the pastoral, to the symphonic, to the operatic, to the downright loud and proud metal, each reflecting the story they tell.

All of the vocalists put in great performances, and I should provide a special mention for Jochen Ohl who is excellent on drums throughout. I must say, though, that this album will ensure that I seek out more of Steve Brockmann's work, because he proves himself to be an incredible multi-instrumentalist. His keyboards, especially, would grace the presence of any major prog band on the planet today, they are that good.

There will be people reading this review who will, no doubt, be tempted to pick up a free download on a pirate site or a cheap one on one of those Russian sites. Please don't, and not just because of the argument (extremely valid as it is) of artists deserving to be paid properly for their work. There is, actually, a more fundamental reason, and that is that this album is as much a work of literature as it is music. The story of Owen is one that has deeply moved me, and will, I feel, appeal to those of you who enjoy the best of modern American literature. If you get it legally, you get the sumptuous booklet with the full story and lyrics.

To summarise, this is an excellent piece of work, and I for one sincerely hope that it does not prove to be a one-off collaboration by these two, because they clearly excel in each other's company.

At the start of this review, I mentioned some classic artists. This album might not be iconic in the fashion of Tommy, War of the Worlds, Preservation, or A Night at the Opera. I'll tell you what, though?It most definitely is worthy of being mentioned in the same breath, and takes the dear old Rock Opera to fresh heights in a modern rock setting.

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
3 stars AIRS is a project based on the collaboration of US writer/lyricist and progressive rock fan George Andrade as well as multi-instrumentalist Steve Brockmann hailing from Germany, being responsible for arrangements, music and production. George is already well known to me for his essential contribution to the epic 'Back From Being Gone', recorded by THE ANABASIS, which came out last year. I really liked it - consequently I was keen on examing his new outfit too. Now they both have made up a new Rock Opera consisting of 18 segments - while being supported by a bunch of contributors, as for some additional instruments ... and the various vocal parts so much the more.

The outworking may not be attractive to everybody, as they do not implement their ideas like a consolidated band as such, which means entering the studio as a unity quasi. However, distances don't make a difference anymore today, modern recording circumstances offer the possibility to bring artists together from all over the world. This definitely can open new horizons ... why not? Finally the result counts, if it is appealing ... there we go! While immersing myself into this I can smell a cinematic vibe definitely, hence, on this occasion, when listening, in the meanwhile it's relatively easy for me to implement my personal movie scenes before my mind's eye corresponding to this affair. The reason is that George Andrade has elaborated an engaging script, something for the heart and mind.

The story is essentially based upon the demise of the Manisses Indian tribe on Block Island in the Atlantic - thus by far not a fictive place and background. The protagonist is Owen, returning back to his home by ferry. He had been locked-in for causing a car accident with the result of a seriously injured 9 year old girl named Hannah. Now he has been released from prison early with time served due to the news that his father is dying ... a tragical affair for sure. At least something very emotional - spiked with references to what had happened to the tribe in the past ... and as for the real essence covering the two sides of personality, self-perception and who you really are.

Several vocalists are mirroring the different figures which are playing a role in the story behind. 'Father, it's me' ... this is where Paul Adrian Villarreal represents Owen on the opening and closing ballad. Both songs are nicely embracing the whole production with corresponding melodies and emphatic piano chords. Alternatively on Grounded Steve Brockman's guitar stands for a heavier outfit otherwise. Comprising rock, pop and metal elements each song differs in style and execution. 'I'm still haunted by the day you left in chains' ... The Center excellently expresses Annabelle's and Owen's complicated relationship. To point out some other favourites I would call up Annabelle and especially The Great Salt Pond due to a nice groove and Floor Kraaijvanger's impressive voice which perfectly fits.

Attractive in the wake of expanded boundaries AIRS will appeal to prog fans as well as AOR and standard rock music lovers. It's not just that Dave Meros and Alan Morse (Spock's Beard) are enriching the sound. Additionally the production is flawless by all means. There is a gripping story to tell also touching stones, mills, kites, well, of course the Book of Airs first and foremost. And, important to remember, it's an Opera, hence the vocals certainly play an important role. Although not every track can thrill me music-wise, I'm really impressed by some catchy earworms which are embedded. Finally I take my hat off to such a musical and emotional kinship between Steve and George, surprisingly grown out of conversations at a music message board on the internet. So overall this makes me curious for more - 3.5 stars so far.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Here we are, just over two months into 2012, and here is an album that I doubt will get pushed off of my top ten list for the year. In what appears to be a promising year for prog releases, this is an excellent start.

Multi-instrumentalist Steve Brockmann and lyricist George Andrade have come together to create something different in the modern age of progressive rock, a coherent and compelling rock opera.

Lyrically, George Andrade's story is in essence a tale of guilt, remorse and redemption. Looking at it that way, it's hardly unusual. But in the telling, Andrade had come up with a completely fresh and original concept. In a nutshell, the protagonist, Owen, has been imprisoned for causing an accident which cripples a child, while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Upon his release, he finds that his actions have destroyed his family and their business, as well as the obvious pain he has inflicted. The remainder of the story deals with how Owen redeems himself and help the injured girl. I'd rather not give anything else away. Just get it and listen.

Musically, Brockmann begins with music that echoes the depression and sadness that encompasses Owen. The style is primarily progressive metal, with quite a few ballads mixed in. There is not a bit of filler, however. Each track is a gem. The music brightens as Owen's outlook does the same, with a crescendo beginning on the track Heritage.

Other exceptional tracks are the ballads Annabelle and The Great Salt Pond. And I must also note that Dave Meros and Alan Morse, both from Spock's Beard make appearances on the album (with Ryo Okumoto on Andrade's Anabasis album, he's getting quite a connetion to the Beardies).

So. Fans of rock opera, prog metal, or great music - get this one.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Airs - A Rock Opera' - Steve Brockmann And George Andrade (8/10)

Although 'progressive rock' nowadays tends to clutch onto many sounds and styles of the past, the concept of the 'rock opera' has generally fallen out of favour. Although conceptually- bound records are still a norm for prog, the ensemble of vocalists and sense of theatrical stage performance have largely dwindled, possibly with only Ayreon now carrying the torch into the limelight. Built as a collaboration over the internet, the partnership between musician Steve Brockmann and writer George Andrade seeks to forge a rock opera for the new prog generation. With a tightly written narrative, variety of songwriting and loads of theatrical flair, 'Airs' is an excellently constructed piece of work. While the shortfalls of most rock operas still apply here, Brockmann and Andrade lead a grand operation here.

Musically, Steve Brockmann's composition tends to recall anthemic 80's rock, pop and metal, although the potential cheese is offset by the variety in the composition. Like all great rock operas, the music of 'Airs' shifts to whatever emotional state the narrative engages. Andrade's storytelling- a melancholy tale of a man making mistakes and redeeming himself- may not have a startling sense of originality, but it tends to cover the board in terms of the emotions it sees the characters and listener through. Contrary to many concept albums- which like to dabble in fantasy, action, or philosophy- 'Airs' is a story entirely about people, their feelings, and their relations with one another. It is a fairly complex drama taking place in a closed setting called 'Manisses Island', and in truth, the plot can be fairly difficult to follow, especially considering that characters- particularly the protagonist Owen- are suspect to changing vocalists. In other words, 'Airs' is an album meant to be followed by reading the booklet, which is helpfully fleshed out with added text and background that helps to give some context to the feelings in these characters.

Although this is largely an online collaboration, 'Airs' sounds far from amateurish, and instead has been given a very talented, professional treatment. As is typical for rock operas, much of the passion comes through in the vocals, and they have been chosen very well for their roles. Moreover, there is a great variety to the sound of vocalists. There is singing here that fits the heavy metal side of 'Airs', lighter melodic delivery for the softer parts, and even a Floor Kraaijvanger giving a standout performance on 'The Great Salt Pond' that would not sound of place in a gospel soundtrack. Nearly fleshing out the entire eighty minute capacity of a CD, there is plenty of material, musical ideas, and emotions to digest on 'Airs', though as complex as it is, there is an accessible layer of melody to it. Brockmann has delivered a fine balance between compositional eloquence and simpler elements, although the overall style of 'Airs' does not feel up to date with 'prog' in 2012, the 'rock opera' format included. 'Airs' is instead a work which takes elements not only from the 70s, but from every decade since the 60's, and fuses it into an emotionally stirring adventure. In short, 'Airs' is an excellent revival of the rock opera, and while it does not revolutionize or change what has already been done, there is a great deal of enjoyment and depth to be found within.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Airs: A Rock Opera" is a collaborative effort planned and composed by German composer and instrumentalist Steve BROCKMANN and US lyricist George ANDRADE. Utilizing their networks they enlisted the aid of musical friends worldwide to record the album, a true to life internet enabled collaboration. The final result was self-released at the start of 2012.

"Airs: A Rock Opera" is an old fashioned rock opera exploring a story involving real people in a real environment, where much care has been used to find different voices for each character in the play. Mostly emphasizing a theatrical, melodramatic delivery focusing on emotion over harmonies, and set to a musical backdrop that to some extent is comparable with the old US metal act Savatage as far as general approach is concerned. I would estimate that followers of that band to be something of a key audience for this ambitious production.

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