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NAUTILUS

Symphonic Prog • Switzerland


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Nautilus biography
Nautilus was a Swiss Band (not the German one), that combined the talents of Urs Lerch on bass, Dieter Ruf on guitars, Peter Fibich on drums, Ralph Stucki on keyboards, and Christian Bauer on guitars. Ruf, Stucki, and Bauer all contributed to the vocals. They only released two albums (1978's "20,000 Miles Under the Sea" and 1980's "Space Storm"), and not much is actually known about them. It's an obscure band, to say the least.


This band is a bit of an oddity, given the time period. At a time when prog was on its way out, they decided to record psychedelic, proto-metal inspired, symphonic rock (sound weird? It should). There is a strong early Uriah Heep component, with touches of John Lord, a smidgen of Genesis, a dash of Black Sabbath, and even some ELO style harmonies. But that's not all. Don't forget the Psychedelic component. The best analogy I can make, is imagine if Iron Butterfly went symphonic.

So, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The lyrics, and vocals can come off as cheesy at times, but the music stands up. There is solid composition here, and it's much different than other symphonic bands of the '70s. Hats off to these guys for attempting it in the age of punk and new wave.

H.T. Riekels (bhikkhu)

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Along the Winding RoadAlong the Winding Road
BSM 2004
Audio CD$12.13
$21.33 (used)
In Search of CastawaysIn Search of Castaways
BSM 2000
Audio CD$10.27
$8.12 (used)
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NAUTILUS discography


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NAUTILUS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.32 | 18 ratings
20,000 Miles Under The Sea
1978
3.29 | 7 ratings
Space Storm
1980

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NAUTILUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 20,000 Miles Under The Sea by NAUTILUS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.32 | 18 ratings

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20,000 Miles Under The Sea
Nautilus Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A great cover and a name that fits progressive rock like a glove. How can there ever be any problems with that? They may have crashed into the party in 1978 but according to their sound they rode in on a horse fed on heavy prog from 1970-73, circa. Nothing wrong with that but I suppose that may have been the reason for not making it big. Well, that and the fact that the album is not great throughout.

It all starts out really good with the first track, which also is the title of the album. Heavy hammond organ opens and leads into a really good and dramatic song whcich makes me think of Wind. The album shifts between more mellow pieces (Like a bird), epic symphonic with a bluesy touch (Deep inside me) and back again. Musically the album is cohesive enough and provides the listener of a varied slice of heavym symphonic prog. The Rick Wakeman-ish keyboards are nice and thrills me.

I hear a lot of influences in the music and though it is not an all that original offering, and certainly not in 1978, it is pleasant enough and rocks and progs it's way, all 39 minutes of them. Nautilus fails to enthrall me all the way but then again it is pleasant and well written songs. The hammond organ and other keyboards are really the piéce de resistance here. Marvellous stuff. Semi-classical and sometimes distorted it gives me the shivers. Wonderful. As an album, though, I have to rate it with three solid and well deserved stars.

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 20,000 Miles Under The Sea by NAUTILUS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.32 | 18 ratings

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20,000 Miles Under The Sea
Nautilus Symphonic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

4 stars It's actually so underground and obscure that it' will be an excelent addition to any prog rock music collection. Nautilus took me by the cover and literary concept. I had enjoyed listening to (almost) the whole album. I don't know why but I couldn't get this at my first time listening to it. At the first track, "20,000 Miles Under The Sea" (album title), the main guitar riff sounds a deep purple-like hard rock. But you will easily notice that it's extremely prog. The keyboards are the best album point for me. "Sleeping In The Wind", "To The Sky" and "Opus For Ghosts, Crocodils and Four Living Persons" are my favorite tracks here. I felt a lack of slice in some tracks like the third, "Like A Bird". But it's a good album, you'll not regret it.

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 20,000 Miles Under The Sea by NAUTILUS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.32 | 18 ratings

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20,000 Miles Under The Sea
Nautilus Symphonic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

A Swiss quartet (the standard guit+kb) that obviously made a fixation on Jules Verne's novel, Nautilus released their first album (the present) in early78 on the small label Turicaphon and hasn't received a legit CD reissue yet. The group is lead by keyboardist and singer Ralph Stucki and seconded by guitarist (often acoustic) and lead singer Christian Bauer, while Lerch (bass) and Eichenberger (drums) are an apt supporting rhythm section. With an obvious submarine artwork that appears to have 40 000 miles deep and reached the realm of Hades and hell.

Opening on the enthralling title track, the group's proto-symphonic prog hits the right buttons, with Stucki's excellent Hammond, driving the band into dramatic territory with his very correct Bauer vocals and fine guitars, they sound like Uriah Heep doing a sister track to July Morning. The following Sleeping In The Wind starts on guitar arpeggios and synth string layers, before the rhythm section comes in, then the moog overtakes the lead instruments and makes a showcase, but this sounds too much like one and (IMHO) sounds forced and clumsy. Stucki's vocals are not quite as good in this one, to be honest, Like A Bird shares the same flaws, even if the two tracks are differently built. Deep Inside Of Me only confirms the clumsy and second-league Swiss school (far behind Circus or Island, but on par with Flame Dream), but without being embarrassing with the Yes inspiration.

Much of the album's flipside is brewed in the same barrels and the general feeling is of a lesser BJH, despite the odd moment of excellence (Bauer's electric guitar sound and Bauer's Hammond interventions) but often annihilated by all-too obvious influences and other (mainly vocal-related) imperfections. Stucki doesn't really fare better vocal-wise in To The Sky, but it is a refreshingly different voice, even if not that far from Bauer's own timbre. Despite a good opening title track, this album is certainly not my cup of tea, and should you make a reasonable offer, I might want to part with my superb bootleg CD copy ? I got rid of my Flame Dream albums that way

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 20,000 Miles Under The Sea by NAUTILUS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.32 | 18 ratings

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20,000 Miles Under The Sea
Nautilus Symphonic Prog

Review by oddlay

3 stars As they were a bit late to the party (1978), Nautilus is a name that you don't really hear at all. It's too bad really, as they could create some great tunes. As much as I would like to give this album a 4-star rating, I cannot. The music presented in this album is a 4-star effort, full of energy and with nice, lengthy solos. The singing is done pretty well too. The lead singer (Ruf?) sings well, and there are even some nice vocal harmonies throughout the album. The problem I have with this album is the lyrics. I can usually tolerate below- average lyrics if the music stands up, but these lyrics are particularly dreadful. They spoil a few otherwise great songs ("Deep Inside Of Me" "Lost In Time") and only hurt the few below average songs (especially Lady).

The album starts off pretty well with with "20,000 Miles Under The Sea." With heavy keyboards and a slow, ponderous pace, it's easily one of the stronger tracks on the album. The next song, "Sleeping With The Wind," is much less cohesive, especially for the first half of the song. It jumps around between different instruments and ends up becoming kind of a mess. However, they mixed in a couple of enjoyable keyboard solos, especially the last one before the lyrics jump in. "Like A Bird" is neat, but soon gets very repetitive and loses steam very quickly. It has nice atmospheric keyboard playing though, especially the solo that lasts for about a minute. "Deep Inside of Me" is split into two songs almost. There's the slow lyrical part of the song, which is one of the best moments on the album, if you don't mind the awful lyrics. And then there's the faster pace "la-la-la-la-laa" part of the song, which is just terrible and ruins the song. Next is "Lady," easily the worst song on the album. Absolutely horrendous lyrics, ugly harpsichord, and one of the single worst choruses I can think of. A skip-worthy song if I've ever heard one. They rebound nicely with "Lost In Time," featuring lengthy instrumental passages that are very enjoyable, and distract from the once again awful lyrics. Great atmospherics at the beginning and end of the song too. "To The Sky" is short and quickly paced. Very energetic, and has I think what is the longest guitar solo on the album. Lyrics suffer once again. "Opus for Ghosts...etc." is simply a 2 minute instrumental to close out the album. Pretty catchy, but nothing more.

Like I said, I wish I could give it 4-stars. It's a shame that the lyrics have to constantly undercut what is otherwise a very enjoyable album. 3-stars it is.

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 20,000 Miles Under The Sea by NAUTILUS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.32 | 18 ratings

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20,000 Miles Under The Sea
Nautilus Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Very good, but obscure, band from Switzerland that released only two albums by the end of the 70´s (not to be confused by the eletronic german band of the same name). Their lack of success is understandable if you think that their debut was released in 1978, a time when prog was not the coolest thing in the world, to say the least! And they sound too much from the early 70´s for their own good. But the music inside this CD is great! What they sound like? Try to imagine Wishbone Ash with heavy keyboards. The musicanship is very good all through the CD and I was impressed by their vocal harmonies (again quite Wishbone Ash-like, but also they sound too 60´s on some parts).

The production is quite good for the time. Everything works on this CD, except its timing. Had they release it a few years before they would probably made it big! I liked the well balanced tracks with bluesy guitar licks, lots of tasteful keyboards (Hammond and synths, mostly) and a strong rhythm section. Although some tracks are better than others, none is bad. The opener 20,000 Miles Under the Sea and the epic Lost In Time are my favorites with hints of Eloy, Jethro Tull and (who else?) Wishbone Ash (including some of their twin lead guitars trademark). Unlike mostly bands that start almost as an imitation of their idols, Nautilus already showed they had their own sound, even if their influences were easy to tell.

Conclusion: a fine band that should not be forgotten. 20.000 Miles Under The SEa is a lost gem from the 70´s and it is a must have for anyone who enjoy a heavy prog band with lots of passion, technique and conviction. Oh, those were the times! . It is only unfair some few people heard about them. 4 stars.

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 20,000 Miles Under The Sea by NAUTILUS album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.32 | 18 ratings

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20,000 Miles Under The Sea
Nautilus Symphonic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

4 stars When a fellow member of the Symphonic Team shared with me his doubts about NAUTILUS from Switzerland (Not to be confused with the German homonymous band) being Symphonic, I got some samples from the excellent album "20,000 Miles Under the Sea" and shared his opinion immediately but no matter in what sub-genre they belong, I felt that they are unfairly underrated and ignored, so immediately got the album and what a surprise, they are excellent for any person interested in early forms of Progressive Rock like Psyche and Proto Prog.

Despite the year of release (1978) the first impression you get is that it's a blend of late British Psychedelia with Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and some leanings towards German Symphonic a la Triumvirat.

The album starts with the title track and it's a wonderful slap in the face, they hit the listener with all the band has, strong bass riffs close to Gary Thain during the "Uriah Heep" golden era, vocals very close to Deep Purple and an excellent organ by Ralph Stucki sounding as a blend of Farfisa (that send you back to a point in the late 60's as a melting of The Doors and Grand Funk Railroad) but other times sounds as Hammond in the vein of Ken Hensley meets Jürgen Fritz, great aggressive and strong opener.

"Sleeping in the Wind" has a more acoustic approach, the guitar Christian Bauer stars soft ad mo0ody blending with the spacey keyboards in the vein of early/mid Pink Floyd, but then Bauer takes a harder edge and Ralf Stucki follows the style of Triumvirat during the Illusions on a Double Dimple - Spartacus era, less cohesive than the previous but not for that reason less impressive, again good quality material but less aggression.

"Like a Bird" Starts semi acoustic again with a very pleasant mood a bit dreamy and very atmospheric, the vocals are recorded in a second plane with the backings taking the lead in some moments, the keyboards are clearly like in most British Psychedelia, strangely in this track the bass is less impressive than in the first two but again another very beautiful song and great melody.

"Deep Inside Me" tell us that the Uriah Heep influence is back, the classical Hensley sound and mystery is recreated from the start and the effect is boosted when an elaborate guitar mixing metal oriented flashes with Mick Box's typical distortion, the lead voice of Dieter Ruf is not very close to David Byron, but the choral work by Stucki and Bauer reminds me of Look at Yourself or Demons and Wizards but then the piano changes the mood to some German Symphonic style combined with a touch of Hard Rock, along the opening track, the strongest up to this point.

"Lady" is another song inspired in Heep the keyboards are less dark but much faster getting closer to Deep Purple, very melodic and coherent, the only problem is the choral work that is the weakest at this point, sounding even out of key by instants and the keyboards seem to loose the road sounding again like Jürgen Fritz in Pompeii but this time with an out of place guitar work a bit flat, the weakest track of the album but still not bad.

"Lost in Time" is a longer track that starts like a marc with a clear psychedelic sound and strong drumming by Peter Fibich, the guitar played in the style of The Doors meet Santana are quite pleasant, the vocal work is very elaborate with radical tempo variations still takes us to Carnaby Street back in 1968 or 1969 even when less druggy and moiré vibrant, now Ralph Stucki plays in some sections as Rick Wakeman in "Criminal Record" proving how versatile the guy is, if you're a psyche era nut as me, I'm sure you will enjoy this excellent song.

"To the Sky" is a short but full of energy song, the opening keyboards a la Hensley in Look at Yourself are breathtaking, the vocals strangely remind me of Peruvian Proto Prog in the style of LAGHONIA perfectly back upped by a a great guitar that reminds of Santana work and a strong rhythm section, a song that has everything, if it was only longer would be perfect, but as some people say it's better to leave the audience asking for more.

The album is closed with "Opus For Ghosts, Crocodiles and Four Living Persons", the name is longer than the exhilarating track (1:48), NAUTILUS again hits us with all their repertoire, Baroque keyboards, flashy guitar, strong bass and Peter Fibich who is a human metronome, great way to close an excellent album.

A few years ago after two decades of listening Prog', I thought nothing could surprise me, but while getting older my capacity of surprise is not lost, this guys really impressed me, they had the advantage of releasing a pure Prog album in 1978 after listening by all the early icons (They looked at the world on the shoulders of giants) but didn't felt in the easy path of cloning them, NAUTILUS took this inspiration and worked it in a very intelligent way

After listening "20,000 Miles Under the Sea", I'm that they are lost in the Symphonic sub-genre, the richness of influences makes them a book case of Art Rock and I can't wait until I get the second album of this excellent Swiss band.

Four stars for an excellent addition to any Prog collection but if you're interested in late Psychedelia and love blending of sounds It's invaluable.

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Ivan_Melgar_M for the last updates

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