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PHYLTER

Symphonic Prog • Belgium


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Phylter biography
PHYLTER is an almost unknown Belgium band born in the late 70's in the borderline that divides Classical Symphonic from Neo Prog, a school that we'll be adding soon with the name of Neo Symphonic for those bands previous to the birth of Neo but already having some elements of this 80's sub-genre.

The band was formed by Patrick Philips (Organ, Fender Rhodes Piano, Acoustic Piano, Eko Piano, Strings, Synthesizer, Vocals), Marc Van Bortel (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Paul Van Bortel (Bass Guitar, Vocals) and Christian Zaman in the Drums

For their first and only self titled release in1978 and upgraded to CD the year 1993 by the French Spalax label they counted with Jean-Marie Aerts playing rhythm Guitar ad guest.

Despite the almost absolute lack of information, "Phylter" is easy to find in almost any good online music store and it's a pleasant surprise, their main influence is the 4 men era GENESIS blended with special skills with CAMEL and PINK FLOYD atmospheres plus a bit of fusion.

The album is mainly instrumental and the vocals in very good English are simply delightful but their highest point is Patrick Phillippe, an incredible keyboardist from who there's also rare info.

The album has all the ingredients that would make it desirable for any Prog collection, strong and dramatic changes and beautiful melodies, specially in the closer, the excellent 15 minutes epic "Down and Mood for Change".

Honestly can't understand why they vanished so soon when their material is absolutely strong, if there's a chance get their album, it's worth.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

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3.26 | 40 ratings
Phylter
1978

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PHYLTER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Phylter by PHYLTER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.26 | 40 ratings

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Phylter
Phylter Symphonic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars One of the rarest of 1970s prog bands, little is known of the band PHYLTER except that this band formed in the beautiful city of Brugge, Belgium, recorded and released this sole self-titled album in 1978 and then pretty much vanished into the ethers. This band featured the members of Patrick Philips (organ, fender rhodes piano, acoustic piano, Eko-piano, strings, synthesizer, vocals) , Marc Van Bortel (lead guitar, vocals) , Paul Van Bortel (bass, vocals) and Christian Zaman (drums) with guest musicians Jean-Marie Aerts (rhythm guitar) and Rens Van der Zalm (violin).

The band's only release was a concept album that told the story about sailors who escaped a major storm by hiding out in a cave on an uninhabited island, the view of which is highlighted by the nice fantasy album cover art. The new world where they temporarily take refuge is the subject matter for the album's six tracks which ran the standard album's length of just over 43 minutes. The album featured somewhat standard track lengths with the closing "Down And Mood For Change" sprawling past the 15-minute mark.

Considered to exist in the symphonic prog camp, PHYLTER was just as comfortable floating in space rock terrain. The musical compositions were highly melodic and references to the timeline when symphonic prog was morphing into the pop hook infused neo-prog seems fitting due to the fact that PHYLTER delivered extremely well crafted melodies that forged instant hooks. The music was light and breezy and never really rocked out in excess but heavier passages are heard for much needed contrast. The gist of PHYLTER was multi-layered keyboard parts that featured an organ, Fender Rhodes piano, acoustic piano and a synthesizer.

The Van Bortel brother provided catchy bass and guitar hooks that prognosticated the likes of modern neo-prog bands like Arena, IQ and Pendragon with clear references to Pink Floyd but existing in a vacuous sector of space time all its own. The occasional violin adds a folk flavor as well. References to Camel or 70s Genesis are well-founded as PHYLTER existed in the same symphonic prog paradigm but like many of these rare bands sort of found its own way from the very beginning and doesn't really sound like any other band i've personally experienced.

The tracks are well varied with an emphasis on instantly lovable melodies but occasional attacks of virtuosity also find their way into the mix with my favorite coming in the middle of "Consideration." The grande finale is the 15-minute "Down And Mood For Change" which provides the greatest diversity of sounds and styles on the album. Starting out with a slow building organ lead, the track ushers in that now famous neo-prog guitar sweep before jumping into some Yes inspired vocal harmonies before jumping into some heavier rock guitar riffs. Once again the keyboards provide a brilliant contrapuntal effect to the guitar, bass and drums. The lead vocalist may not be a Jon Anderson but is pleasant enough. Nice key soloing follows. The musical motif changes keep things interesting with a recurring rock guitar heft.

Overall this is a much better album than i was expecting from the low ratings. True it may be a bit on the cheesy side due to the incessantly slick melodic hooks but if you fancy crossover symphonic prog, neo-prog and funk fueled guitar hooks then you will love this. This album has been amongst the rarest of the rare with the original vinyl on Parsifal records still highly sought after but luckily this album has found a remastered CD reissue on t he French Spalax label with unfortunately no bonus tracks. This is mostly a sleepy contemplative album which when taken in the context of a bunch of exhausted sailors who managed to find shelter during an enervating storm survival protocol, it sounds even better. Personally i find this to be quite an interesting rarity that holds up beyond the initial wow factor.

 Phylter by PHYLTER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.26 | 40 ratings

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Phylter
Phylter Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Phylter is another of those bands that came a little too late on the scene when the music world had changed completely from a few years before (1978). If the situation was already bad for established bands, what to say about newcomers? Sometimes you can find interesting and even excellent stuff (Anyone´s Daughter comes in mind). But, with punk and disco rising high at that time, they all had little chance to get notice. And this is the case with this band from Belgium.

Their sound is actually closer to light space/krautrock than "real" symphonic groups like Yes or Genesis. The songs are OK, I guess, but really not that good. With time it is possible they would eventually evolve into something bigger and more exciting. Judging from their debut´s LP perspective, it is no surprise that they did not have the opportunity to release a follow up. They had a lot to learn in terms of arrangements and songwriting. Vocals are only average too. Production does not help much either, being far from satisfactory.

Don´t get me wrong: their sound is pleasant enough. I liked the 3 last songs, they are far better than the previous 3. Patrick Philips is surely the best musician here and his keyboards are the highlight of the album. Even so, I can´t say it is any better than several other bands that were struggling to get somewhere at the period. They were at least four years late in terms of style and playing.

Conclusion: more interesting than really good. Not essential at all. But if you like searching for obscure bands of the late 70´s, then Phylter might be worth checking out. The CD has a few good moments that fans of the space rock movement might like.

Rating: 2,5 stars.

 Phylter by PHYLTER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.26 | 40 ratings

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Phylter
Phylter Symphonic Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Obscure, coming quite late, with sound that you probably heard before, but still lovely. I'm not that familiar with Belgium's scene, as for example Hugues (Sean Trane), but you can probably say that I tend to give bands higher ratings in general than three previous reviewers here. So my final rating will be slightly higher. But It really think it's a good album, it's enjoyable and there's no single thing I hate about it. Yes, originality fails here a lot, even I have to admit it, but it's not the only important thing. Feeling I get from this album is quite great, it's a nice piece of music in homogeneous way of no-influence (no Genesis-influences band, no Camel- influenced), but in result, it sounds well enough to earn

4(-) (ahem, barely)

 Phylter by PHYLTER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.26 | 40 ratings

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Phylter
Phylter Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars Phylter's only album is a fairly good account of what they were up to during their time together.

Their brand of symphonic prog is deeply rooted in the early space rock scene. Add some naive, accented vocals too and you get an album somewhere between ELP and Wylde Flowers. The star here is the keyboardist Patrick Philips who alone drags this album up from merely decent to a good album. The best song here is Dreams Of Yesterdays. A truly great song, actually. The rest of the album is pretty basic symphonic space prog and pretty decent. I am not overjoyed by this album, I am afraid. But Patrick Philips is the saving grace here.

3 stars (barely)

 Phylter by PHYLTER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.26 | 40 ratings

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Phylter
Phylter Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Phylter is an obscure symphonic prog band from Belgium who release a single album so far in 1978 selftitled. The music they've play is rather eclectic to my ears with of course symphonic arrangements , but don't expect to be something a la Genesis , Yes or other symph giants of the '70, is more towars in sound like their country fellows Machiavel . A little dull and usual symph prog in places but filled with a lots of synthesizers and organs that gives a special feel to it, not far from typical late '70's band like Machiavel and even in places some Nessie traces are obvious. All pieces stand as good to me, not a weak moment as a whole, but not something special either, a worthy album to be listened from time to time. I like very much the choruses from the first 3 pieces - Overture, Dreams of yesterday and Phylter, in fact the best from here, better even than last track a near 15 min of good symp prog but not excellent. Patrick Philips did a great job on this album both on vocals not to mention on keys, the rest of the musicians are good no doubt , but they don't shine as on other albums from late '70's, they've done what they know best - prog music. So , beside the fact that the previous reviewer said almost all about them, to me remains only to tell you that this album worth some spind if you enjoy '70's prog obscure symph bands. 3 stars easely, not among the top of Begium's great prog music, but not a bad album either.
 Phylter by PHYLTER album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.26 | 40 ratings

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Phylter
Phylter Symphonic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Phylter's only album came at a time it had no chance to even make the slightest wave and to be truthful, it's just as well, because it has everything to remain discrete as a transparent carp. The late 70's was a cornucopia for second-rate Belgian symphonic rock groups: Nessie, Dragon, Flyte, Isopoda, Prelude, and their bigger brother Machiavel and the surprising Pollen (not to be confused with the Quebecois group). Indeed, most of these groups came half a decade too late, as most of the music industry had moved on. The standard prog quartet, emanating from the western city of Bruges, they developed a symphonic prog that rode smoothly on the Camelian back of Genesis and Floyd.

Based on a concept (at least I'm pretty sure) where the icy artwork gracing its cover plays a role, the album remains an honest (at best) if uninspired trip through aerial symphonic prog. The album is marred by poor lyrics and sometimes almost laughable multiple singing harmonies and even awful recording hissing in the fourth track, Promenade. Their symphonic rock is mostly based on the Camel smoothness (except in the energetic eponymous instrumental title track) and borders often the cheesy side of the style. The first side is made of four average length tracks, which do not really make the listener raise an eyebrow (except for the third noisier one). Their sound is not that easily described because it is rather unique, with Phillips (keys and vocals) is clearly their leader and Van Der Zalm's guest violin brings another touch of originality.

The second side is definitely better if not fundamentally different! After a lengthy synth intro, the Consideration track develops in an up-tempo pleasant track where the vocals can even approach the good sing-along feel. Had the group managed to get a loyal following, it is easy to see this track as a set-closer getting the fans to yell out loud the simple yet effective lyrics in order to get a triumphant return for an encore. The closing "epic" Mood For Change is obviously the main course, but fails to score all that well even if there are very good moments.

Reissued by Spalax in the early-90's, not really bad, but not that good either, Phylter's sole album does not represent that much what was typically symphonically-done in Belgium in the closing years of the 70's, but we are a far cry from the ultra adventurous dark and mind-blowing music that their countrymen Univers Zero were doing at the same era. Not really worth your investment, but not completely devoid of merit either. This flawed album is not really achieving classic status (far from it), but it does rock a bit harder than you'd guess it.

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

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