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Symphonic Prog • Sweden

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The Foundation biography
The style of this mid-80's Swedish foursome is very much in the vein of early CAMEL: keyboard oriented, melodious symphonic prog with sparse, laid back vocals. What sets them apart is their use of Chapman stick and the cello that gives their sound a rich, warm glow. Curiously for a band of the 80's, they never used any sequencers or computers. As for influences, they claim to have been inspired by Klaus Schulze, Mike OLDFIELD, VANGELIS, Igor Stravinsky, GENESIS and ELP among others. Each musician had a very different approach to making an album: the drummer wanted lively hit songs, the synth player thought any track under 10 minutes was crap, the bass player wanted to play Rhythm'n Blues and the guitar/vocalist only listened to Steve MORSE. They compromised and stuck together for the space of one album, released in 1985; they did a few gigs in Sweden and Germany and then split up.

Their album "Departure" is basically a mixture of CAMEL and Anthony PHILLIPS, i.e. smooth, melodious prog, devoid of complex time signatures or radical mood swings. This is easy listening but it does have quite a dynamic flavour, thanks to some excellent drum play. The cd is made up of five fairly lengthy pieces and two bonus tracks (those two alone totalling 21 minutes).

Fans of CAMEL, ODYSSICE, TRIBUTE, Anthony PHILLIPS and GENESIS circa "Wind & Wuthering" will certainly enjoy.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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3.55 | 29 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Departure by FOUNDATION, THE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.55 | 29 ratings

The Foundation Symphonic Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars Swedish foundation for your skin

People who know me also know that I don't write about too many 3 star albums. What you should take away from this fact is two things: 1) I am very long winded and I want to use whatever time I've got on this planet to talk about the stuff that gives me goosebumps and curdles my blood in the most beautiful way imaginable - and I've got at least 3 or 400 albums waiting for a review by now. 2) 3 stars equate a good album - never forget that. -And if I do decide to write about one of these efforts, it is because they genuinely mean something special to me.

Surprisingly enough I've chosen to review a Swedish album. Departure is the name of the game, and though sounding rather striking and fetching - it brings back memories to this listener of the very essence of the decade it was spawned, so to me personally it might as well have been named Arrival. The Foundation's sole record takes us back to the kitschy 80s, and you don't need too much time alone with this album before that fact becomes evident. The production has that wafer thin plastic coating which only seldomly manages to sound successful. The synths here also suffer from those far too common middle of the road sounds which were popular back then. They come across like a mix of early Marillion, Pallas and maybe a dash of synth pop thrown in for good measure. There are however times during this album, where they aspire for greatness and muster up the courage to break free from their ever imprisoning frame - sounding slightly Camelesque in nature rising above the pitfalls of their own existence. These moments are often generated by a group effort - the drums pick up momentum and clash into the wailing melodic guitar, that by then is singing songs of woe and hurt - hitting you right in the winter cold of your stomach. The bass, that usually stands well in the back as a supporting entity, now also peeps through the thicket and mimics some kind of symphonic take on Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris - injecting things with a proper rhythmic propulsion blrwwrwdrdridbedipebeb. Woooheee - come on boy!

For all you symph heads out there, this album could very well be the bee's knees, and I sure find immense pleasure in listening to this record from time to time - even if I think it a bit too pretty and goody two shoes for its own sake, but then again a little honey never hurt anybody, except for the tiny bees we stole it from. HAHA - take that! Departure's biggest let downs are their poor stagnant vocals and those plastic sounding synths. Overall the instrumentation is damn near faultless though, and as I pointed out before, when things really start picking up and develop into these great big symphonic sculptures of sound and everything just feels right - and even the poor 80s qualities diminish in favour of pure instrumental bliss - you kind of forget all the bad things you were thinking a few minutes earlier. D-Day Dawn sure has its moments -especially the powerful arp-synthesizer solo that pulverises through the airwaves at the end of the track. Sounds brilliant anyway you slice it!

One of my favourite moments on Departure is on the title track, when the synths form into this airy clean Japanese swirl. They still sound 80s, but there's just something about this track that sends me flying on a collision course straight into the ancient world of samurais and karate pledges. It's not about the fighting though, but those atmosphere inducing pictures I've got from movies of tiny waterfalls in a garden of stone - or the serene presence of Bonsai trees standing proudly on the edge of a mountainside caught in a mild breeze. Quite simply stunning.

Another thing about this album that really speaks to me is the more mellow sections, where things are quieted down to a mere whisper and the guitars turn acoustic and wander periodically around - up and down the fretboard in some kind of forest folky manner that takes you out into the nature and away from all the plastic qualities of the production. I love these small breaks, and again there is that unequivocal moment of afterthought in me that ponders just how this album would've sounded, if it was recorded without these rather unnatural and unflattering filters.

If you love the symphonic genre, and don't necessarily care too much about a good slice of honey inside your music - as long as it corresponds with the tunes and comes off tasting like summery nectar - then you could do worse than picking this little piece of Swedish nostalgia up. It is very dear to me - even if my tastes have shifted for the more wild and eclectic of sorts.

 Departure by FOUNDATION, THE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.55 | 29 ratings

The Foundation Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Foundation is a swedish progressive rock band who beggines their career in early '80's inspired by bands like Genesis (Duke era), Camel and even The Police or Vangelis, as they said in the liner notes of the CD. They release a single album in 1985 named Departure, re release by Musea records some years ago. The music is very polished , very catchy, at least the first two tracks Walking Down the Avenue and Crossing Lines are simply killers, keeping in mind that this is a progressive rock album released in 1985, a decade when prog was clearly in the shadows, The Foundation succeded to come with a great album. As I said the music is very catchy , very competent musicians, they really know to compose a piece to be an truly pleasent listning from start to finish. What strikes me at this album is the keybords, very polished passages who interlude like gloves with the guitar and the rest of the instruments. Great musicianship and inventive arrangements. Another thing that worth mentioning is that they move from slow to more up tempo moments in a very distinctiv way, almost they had a nordic atmosphere in their sound, some bass line of the highest finess for sure. So, a very good album, quite unnoticed , to tell you, and for sure needs a better view. For those who enjoy Camel, Genesis, even in places the atmosphere turns is some more pastoral moments not far from Rousseau (Retreat era), same beautiful and elegant arrangements with keyboards keeping the main role, but not very in front, just to keep with the mood of the piece. Excellent. I will give easy 4 stars for this album, recommended, one of the most strong albums from progressive rock in the '80's. My CD vesrsion from Musea has a detailed history of their career and , intrsting band pictures. Very good album.
 Departure by FOUNDATION, THE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.55 | 29 ratings

The Foundation Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Ok,that one is really original...An overlloked,lost and rare gem of progressive rock...Have you ever imagined how a band would sound if mix equal doses of neo prog like IQ, symphonic prog like CAMEL and progressive electronic like VANGELIS?...The result is THE FOUNDATION and their album ''Departure'' ,the most original thing I've heard for a long time...

The main structure of the music comes straight out of CAMEL's works,that means accesible melodic symphonic prog including some smooth violin and flute work...But this whole thing is dressed up with lots of digital keyboard sounds and effects, which sometimes take on and the the music reaches the progressive electronic area of VANGELIS and MIKE OLDFIELD...Georgeous experience,this album is something you need to listen to...The only negative thing here is that the extra instruments (violin,flute etc.) are played of the keyboard and that is slightly annoying...My rating lies between 4 and 4.5 stars due to the stunning musicianship and originality of this band...Go and find this treasure!...

 Departure by FOUNDATION, THE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.55 | 29 ratings

The Foundation Symphonic Prog

Review by Prognut
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Do you like CAMEL? if the answer is NO, then this album is not for you!, just plain and simple; so, do not even bother in track this one. Always MUSEA has been good on finding sound-bands hidden like this one, from the mid- 80'; that instead of doing Neo-Prog, they decided to go on with a more Symphonic approach.

Mid-period CAMEL output come to mind, but also ASIA MINOR ("Between Flesh and Devine, which by the way is a real pleaser!..). I would not call them a CLONE all the way, but is really hard not to consider this band a CAMEL clone, since most of the lush keys and the guitar mellow parts sound like them (ala Latimer..), other influences a do hear in them is Alan Parson's here and there, what probably set them apart is the occasional use of Cello, and the extended spacey-moods, specially on the title track, and just for that I am willing to give them 1/2 star more, but that is it!

Of course, the longer tracks are the best, and probably the more structured; but in general the whole album lacks of the.."Punch" you may say of CAMEL; Yes! I know some progheads do not see CAMEL like that, but come on I am making a point here, and is that after listen to this band, instead of repeating any track, I felt more compelled to pull from my shelves a CAMEL CD!! Do you know what I mean? I hope, because even though is a GOOD album, maybe for late afternoon winding down from work or rainy Saturdays afternoons, your collection will not suffer from its absence, and I personally have 100 cds, better for this occasions. By the way the two bonus tracks in the CD, are quite good too!

3 to 3 1/2 stars.

 Departure by FOUNDATION, THE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.55 | 29 ratings

The Foundation Symphonic Prog

Review by mystic fred
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Having "found" this rare Swedish Symphonic Prog band on PA listings i was prompted by the MP3 sample "Crossings" to investigate the group further, and i can honestly say i am far from disappointed with the album as a whole - sparkling sound quality, it is a very interesting listen - some very beautifu,l luscious, sophisticated music which would be ideal, i would say, for late-night listening. At first Eloy came to mind with hints of Mike Oldfield here and there, but i don't mean they sound that much alike as this group have their own unique sound, but i would say if you are into the aforementioned artists i'm sure you would enjoy The Foundation.

There are some lovely soundscapes here using synthesisers and some beautiful 12 and 6 string acoustic guitar, fretless bass, though i found the drumming somewhat unintrusive overall it is allowed to really show out in places, especially on the aforementioned "Crossings", the liveliest piece on the album. The album is mostly instrumental, though the songwriting is good but not that strong, my favourite tracks (including "Crossings") are the "D Day" suite, the 12 minute "Final Thoughts, Departure", and the two bonus tracks are really wonderful, "Red Roses (and my very best wishes)" and the 15 minute "Don't Wake Me Up".

For me this album has been something of a "departure" from what i usually listen to, "mainstream" rock/metal, early Prog and Prog Metal, so on this occasion i've been well rewarded for trying something different - you never know! This is one album i'm keeping, an excellent addition to my growing, expanding Prog collection!

 Departure by FOUNDATION, THE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.55 | 29 ratings

The Foundation Symphonic Prog

Review by Hibou
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Departure" is a mostly instrumental album, a slow cooker laden with smooth, melodious passages, wonderful cello, a few calm vocals reminiscent of Andy Latimer's and some dynamic drum play.

It opens with the unfortunate "Walking Down the Avenue", a bland little ditty, but the wonderful 12-minute "Crossing Lines" soon makes up for it. This track I would describe as a mix of CAMEL's "Skylines" and Anthony Phillips' "Greenhouse"; it features an lengthy drum section that sets into a groove over a constantly changing keyboard background, creating a truly hypnotic effect. The much too short "Migration Time" is a most moving cello interlude. "D-Day Dawn", my personal favourite, is a 3-piece suite: the 12-string and oboe intro eventually makes way to a spooky marching-drum section, then the track breaks into nightmarish keyboards reminiscent of Ant Phillips' own "Nightmare" (from the album "Sides") with hints of ELP; the whole thing then explodes into banksian fireworks for a grand finale. The 12-minute "Final Thoughts" is perhaps the track that best typifies the band's style. Again, it starts acoustically and develops ever so slowly, until you find yourself surrounded by a magnificent wall of sound where the feverish cello reigns supreme (a track that never fails to raise the hairs on the back of my neck).

"Red Roses", the first of the two bonus tracks, is most dispensable, imo: some silly little tune with an almost country-hoedown feel. The 16-minute long "Don't Wake Me Up", however, is yet another fine epic, similar in format to the others but with a flavour of its own. It has many interesting themes but the languid cello doing its thing over the synth and guitar interplay is simply sublime.

For a band with such diverse musical inclinations, I think they've managed to put quite a 'together' album, which I keep on playing with renewed pleasure every time. Not an essential album but five farily good tracks out of seven surely deserves 3 stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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